Day 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
Day 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
Day 3 - Hidden Gems
Though world-famous Arches National Park and increasingly popular destinations like Goblin Valley State Park and Little Wild Horse Canyon are must-do adventures in the Green River area, plenty of lesser-known yet no less spectacular places await your discovery. These two hikes and scenic drive get you the most bang for your buck, combining beautiful scenery to enjoy from your vehicle and two easy hikes worth the trek. Pack your lunch!
Morning: Black Dragon Canyon and Scenic Drive through the Swell
The beautiful and easily accessible Black Dragon Canyon is a must. A short hike into the canyon reveals several rock art panels. See if you can spot the dragon-like creature to the left of the main panel. If you’re feeling really adventurous, scramble up the rockfall to the left of the rock art and search for the entrance to a hidden cave. From Skyfall, get on I-70 west. Prepare to pull of the interstate at mile marker 147. Go through the gate. Cross the wash and follow the dirt road for about a mile.
The strip of Interstate 70 that winds through the Swell is one of the most scenic stretches of interstate in the country and makes for a great drive all by itself, but we recommend you make a roadtrip of it. From Green River, head west and enjoy the views and scenic overlooks as you wind through the Swell all the way to exit 131.
From Green River: 18 minutes, 17 miles to the trailhead
Afternoon: Eye of Sinbad
For a short, easy hike (3 miles roundtrip) over slickrock, the Eye of Sinbad offers a unique and surprising destination—a hollowed slickrock chamber complete with natural oculus that frames the sky above. After turning on to Goblin Valley Road from Temple Mountain Road, look for a dirt road heading west after about 0.3 miles. Drive down this road 0.25 miles to a dirt parking area and follow the trail to the slickrock. You can see the cave to the west from the parking area.
From Green River: 44 minutes, 44 miles to the trailhead
From Black Dragon: 38 minutes, 32 miles to the trailhead
Evening: John Wesley Powell River History Museum
Stop by the John Wesley Powell River History Museum to learn the history of the Green and Colorado Rivers and the river runners who explored them. If you’re interested in more local history, head downstairs and check out the John Wesley Powell Research Center and Archives to hear about the towns first residents.
Just across the street from Skyfall Guestrooms
Day 4 - 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. On your second visit to the area, we recommend heading to Canyonlands and then have a little high adventure ziplining across the bluffs. You can pack lunch or drive into Moab for various dining options.
Morning: Canyonlands National Park
Canyonlands National Park provides a veritable wonderland of plateaus, water-carved canyons, mysterious formations, and quiet landscapes. The park is divided into three districts: The Island in the Sky (bounded by the Green River to the west and the Colorado to the east), The Needles (to the southeast) and the very remote Maze district (to the southwest). The Island in the Sky is the most accessible of the three as well as the closest to Green River. The park is far less crowded than neighboring Arches, and if you go for a hike you may only see one or two other individuals.
We recommend you plan to drive to the Grand View Point Overlook and take a hike to either Mesa Arch or the Upheaval Dome Overlook. This will fill a leisurely morning.
From Green River: 1 hr 12 minutes, 54.7 miles to the trailhead
Afternoon - Raven's Rim Zipline
Need more high adventure? Look to Raven's Rim Zip Line for a unique perspective on the desert landscape. These trips include 4WD off-road excursions, zip lining fun, and a suspension bridge walk.
If ziplining isn't your thing, we recommend you spend your afternoon returning to Arches and seeing what you missed on Day 2, such as the Windows, Skyline or Double Arch.
From Green River: 44 minutes, 49 miles to Raven's Rim offices
From Canyonlands: 32 minutes, 30 miles to Raven's Rim offices
Evening - Sunset at Arches
Finish your day with another spectaular sunset, this time with under the red glow of the arches. We recommend the short and easy hike to the Windows to see the brilliant colors of dusk merging with the remarkable colors of the sandstone.
From Green River: 43 minutes, 47 miles to the park entrance
From Raven's Rim: 7 minutes, 4 miles to the park entrance