Option 1 - Experience the Swell
The San Rafael Swell is a wonderland of slot canyons, crazy rock outcroppings, and plenty of adventure. Make sure the car has plenty of gas and stop by the Melon Vine Food Store on Broadway to grab snacks and lunch for your day out (there’s no food available where you’ll be going). Get on the interstate and head west. Admire the magnificent, otherworldly rock formations of the San Rafael Swell as you take Highway 24 south for some excellent canyon exploration.
Morning: Goblin Valley State Park
The otherworldly landscape of Goblin Valley State Park was created by years of wind and water erosion wearing away goblin-like “hoodoo” formations out of the sandstone. Visitors can freely wander among the ghoulish and goofy natural sculptures and seek out secret caves and nooks within the rock.
From Green River: 50 minutes, 50 miles to the park entrance
Afternoon: Little Wild Horse Canyon
For adventures for all ages and skill levels, head to Little Wild Horse Canyon, one of the most spectacular and easily accessible slot canyons in Utah. The committed can finish the whole Little Wild Horse-Bell Canyon loop (about 8 miles), but those content with less can hike as far as they like and then return the way they came.
From Green River: 1 hr 10 minutes, 54.7 miles to the trailhead
From Goblin Valley: 12 minutes, 6 miles to the trailhead
Evening: Swasey's Beach
Laze about on the sand or finish your day with a campfire and spectacular sunset at Swasey’s Beach. North of Green River, this white sand beach shaded by cottonwood trees spans a bend in the river along the edge of the Book Cliffs. Shallow water gives children plenty of opportunity to frolic, and bighorn sheep frequent the water’s edge. From Skyfall, head east on Main Street, then turn left on Hastings Road and follow it all the way to the beach parking area.
From Green River: 17 minutes, 10 miles to the beach
Option 2 - Explore Red Rock Country
The brilliant Red Rock Country between Green River and Moab exemplifies the power of water on this high desert landscape: whittled arches, carved canyons, high bluffs, and large expanses of slickrock reveal the work of water and erosion and provide some of the most breathtaking views and adventures in the entire world. World-famous Arches and Canyonlands National Parks wait to be explored, the Colorado River remains to be rafted, and many hills, gullies, and terraces await your mountain bike. There's so much to do, so plan your time wisely. We recommend packing your lunch and eating at one of the great viewpoints in Arches National Park.
Morning: Arches National Park
Arches boasts some of the most unique rock formations in the world. It is, of course, named after the more than 2,000 natural stone arches found throughout the park. The most famous are Delicate Arch (featured on Utah license plates) and Landscape Arch, the longest natural arch in the world. Arches is a relatively small National Park, but there is plenty to see and do.
We recommend getting to Arches as early as possible to beat the crowds and the heat. The Delicate Arch hike may be strenuous for some (3 miles round-trip, 480 feet of elevation gain), but is worth the trek to see Utah's most iconic landmark. If you prefer a view with less work, take the scenic drive to its end at Devil's Garden and hike the easy 1.6 round-trip distance to Landscape Arch, the longest-spanning natural arch in the world.
From Green River: 43 minutes, 47 miles to the park entrance
Afternoon: Sego Canyon Rock Art and Ghost Town
Sego Canyon contains robust and well-preserved rock art from three different Native American cultures, some of the best rock art in the Southwest, plus a ghost town about a mile and a half further into the canyon, where explorers can wander the ruins of the Sego town general store and see remnants of houses and mines.
From Green River: 30 minutes, 29 miles to the rock art panel
From Arches: 40 minutes, 37 miles to the rock art panel
Evening: Crystal Geyser
One of a handful of cold-water geysers in the entire world, the Crystal Geyser draws sightseers for its vigorous eruptions and for the brilliant orange travertine formations the mineral-rich water creates. This is a great sunset spot.
From Green River: 18 minutes, 8.3 miles to the geyser