Fifteen Jeeps Explore 4×4 Trails In Utah’s San Rafael Swell Region
More dirt roads. More off-road fun. More spectacular scenery. This time in south central Utah. The Moab Easter Jeep Safari crew is branching out and conducted a monthly trail ride in mid-May 2021 in the Green River, Utah, area. Club President, Mike Kelso said this area will become the site of an annual trail ride that’ll add to the variety of backcountry experiences the Red Rock 4-Wheelers offer its members and participants. Chosen for the trail ride were Black Dragon Canyon and Eagle Canyon in the San Rafael Swell region. This area is about 65 highway miles from Moab.
Fifteen Jeeps participated, two from Colorado, one from Arizona, and the rest were from Utah. The group convened on a beautiful Saturday morning in Green River, Utah, and the Black Dragon Canyon trail is 13 miles west on I-70 at milepost 147. It begins on a dirt road that provides unique uncontrolled access to I-70 in the San Rafael Swell. Off I-70 and on the dirt road everybody aired down, and the fun began.
Prehistoric Rock Art & Increasing Challenge
A mere 1.6 miles off the interstate is the famous Black Dragon Canyon prehistoric rock art. And the final two tenths of a mile of the route requires a high clearance vehicle. That short section would be rated a “2” on the Red Rock 4-Wheelers trail difficulty scale. After spending time exploring the canyon wall rock art the group proceeded west through the canyon. The road becomes a “3” rated trail with a couple of obstacles in the creek bed to negotiate. As the trail climbs out of the canyon you are directly under the I-70 Black Dragon Canyon viewpoint. The trail becomes easier as it weaves its way west across Jackass Benches, where wild burros are often seen. The trail connects with Cottonwood Draw and I-70 exit 131. The total distance for this leg of the trip was 19.7 miles.
Arches & Bridges
After lunch, it was on to historic Swasey’s Cabin on the south side of I-70 on an easy dirt road. The trail then drops into Eagle Canyon and requires low-range and First gear for the descent over moderate ledges. This trail is worthy of a “4” rating. Not for the descent, but for the climb out of the canyon. The first cool attraction from the floor of the canyon is massive Eagle Arch, which has become a photographic icon for the San Rafael Swell. It is a slow 2.3 miles from Swasey’s Cabin to Eagle Arch. The next attractions are the two I-70 bridges that span the canyon, another photographic highlight. Driving under the bridges and continuing north up the canyon, the trail makes a sharp right for the steep and attention-required climb out of Eagle Canyon to Secret Mesa. It is rated as a moderately difficult trail with one section having a challenging option even for those with lockers. The trail ends with a dirt road connection to I-70 and a 39-mile drive back to Green River.
Maybe a Two-Day Event?
The Red Rock 4-Wheelers will be evaluating additional trail possibilities for next year and may even look at a two-day event in the future. This is a great addition for those who have done the Moab trails many times. The consensus of the participants was that everyone had a great time and are looking forward to having a reunion in Green River, Utah in May 2022. For more info on the Red Rock 4-Wheelers visit rr4w.com.