San Rafael Swell Hiking Trip: Day 1

Today begins my annual desert vacation with Larry and Vince. After reviewing numerous maps and guidebooks, we decided to visit the southern San Rafael Swell area for a five-day camping and hiking trip. 

Fremont Barrier Art

Fremont Barrier Art

At 7:00 AM, Larry and I headed out on the road to the Utah desert. Meeting Vince in Green River, we made out plans as to where we would begin our San Rafael journey. We decided to go in from the north to find a suitable camping spot, preferably setting-up a single base camp to explore the area from. But first, I wanted to check out some pictograms located just north of the highway. The journey to these ancient drawings involves a circuitous series of 4WD drive roads, including going through a tight tunnel underneath the interstate. I was rewarded for my efforts with my first view of the ancient Fremont drawings. We viewed two panels of drawings before heading back down our original path and into the San Rafael Swell.

The choice of camping spots was limited as we needed some kind of forested area so we’d be able to have a campfire every night; this is November, and temperatures were expected to be quite chilly. We found a suitable spot in a grove of pinion pine trees at the base of the spectacular Family Butte.

Sunrise on the Family Butte

Sunrise on the Family Butte


About Mike

I have a passion for adventure travel that began in 1989 with my first overseas trip: climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Having never been to a foreign country, Africa felt like being on another planet; I knew then and there I was hooked on travel. Since that time, I have visited all seven continents and dozens of countries. I’m using the experience I’ve gained in planning my own trips to help my clients plan their own adventures through my adventure travel company ( After working as a firefighter for the US Forest Service in California and Wyoming for three years, I moved to Durango, Colorado where I graduated from Fort Lewis College with a degree in accounting. After graduation I moved to the Denver area where I worked in a Big Eight accounting firm to obtain my CPA license; soon afterward I began a career as an auditor with the Colorado Department of Education. My background in accounting helped me develop detailed-oriented skills that have been extremely useful in researching and planning my own travel over the years. I think this provides a unique asset to my clients in putting together their adventure travel plans. I currently live in Golden, Colorado with my wife Valerie, who shares my love of adventure travel. I’m an active member of the Colorado Mountain Club where I lead trips for club members and have taught ski lessons in their Telemark Ski School. I enjoy skiing, mountain hiking, trail running, photography, and astronomy. I take any opportunity I can get to explore new places, whether it’s on the other side of the world or just down the road.
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