Fifteen Jeeps Explore 4×4 Trails In Utah’s San Rafael Swell Region

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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

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

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?

This is the Black Dragon Canyon prehistoric site. On the canyon wall, above trail leader Bill Wehrli’s winch-clad black JK, are several reddish pictographs. Other pictographs are further to the right.
Here you can see the “Dragon” pictograph of Black Dragon Canyon.
There were incredible views as we drove west out of Black Dragon Canyon.
This is the first serious obstacle in Black Dragon Canyon.
The Milestar Patagonia tires under David and Sue Noffsinger’s Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon JL latched onto the rocks of one of the 3-rated obstacles on the Black Dragon Canyon trail.
Jess and Gigi Deagan’s well-equipped Jeep Gladiator pops up and over the second obstacle on the Black Dragon Canyon trail.
The trail became easier after Black Dragon Canyon as it weaved its way west across Jackass Benches.
We stopped to admire one of the icons of the San Rafael Swell, Eagle Arch.
Eagle Canyon runs directly under a pair of I-70 bridges. We continued north toward Secret Mesa.
The climb out of Eagle Canyon to Secret Mesa is rated as a moderately difficult trail with one section having a challenging option even for those 4x4s equipped with lockers.

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