San Rafael Swell.

March 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

“Two thousand square miles of narrow, circuitous canyons, scenic cliffs and towering buttes….”


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“This large geologic anticline is located between Castle Dale, Green River, Price and Hanksville. It began its formation 50 million years ago. Over time the sandstone has slowly been lifted and through erosion many cliffs and canyons have been carved. Enormous pressures from a deep basement fault have pushed Wingate and Navajo sandstone on the Eastern edge, the “San Rafael Reef,” near vertical.”


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“San Rafael Swell, UT Located in South-Centeral Utah, the San Rafael Swell is a 75 by 40 mile giant dome made of sandstone, shale and limestone — one of the most spectacular displays of geology in the country. The Swell is surrounded by canyons, gorges, mesas and buttes and is home to eight rare plant species, desert big horns, coyotes, bobcats, cottontail rabbits, badgers, gray and kit fox, and the golden eagle.”


“North Caineville “Reef” is a classic “hogsback”, where flat sedimentary rock formations have been tilted strongly, and the top part of a fold has been eroded away.”


“A part of the Colorado Plateau, the San Rafael Swell is high desert country, vastly different from the Sonoran desert of the Southwest. In some sections, it is a sweeping country with towering mesas, buttes, and pinnacles rising from flat desert floors. In other areas, it boasts rolling pasturelands populated with antelope and wild horses. And just around the bend it can become an incredibly wild, broken land with streams cutting through slot canyons that open up to panoramic vistas.”


“San Rafael Reef WSA, 59,170 acres – Named for its most prominent feature, this WSA encompasses the San Rafael Reef, a long sawtooth-like, sandstone ridge that rises abruptly from the floor of the San Rafael Desert. About 77 percent of the area is covered by pinyon-juniper/desert shrub vegetation; the rest is grassland and bare rock. About half of the WSA is considered important desert bighorn sheep habitat. The San Rafael Reef portion, with its huge areas of slickrock and many canyons, is ideal for hiking and backpacking. Most of the WSA has been designated as the San Rafael Reef Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) to protect scenic values and unique vegetation. All of the WSA is closed to OHV use.”

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Little Wild Horse Canyon!i=7


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“The San Rafael “swell” is actually an anticline – a huge dome formed by pressure from underneath the earth’s surface. It is 80 miles long and 35 miles wide. Much like the way an accordion would be pressed together, this anticline manifests itself on the surface with striking ridge-like rock formations. More than 70 million years old, the San Rafael Swell shows how wind, water and changes from beneath the earth can shape a landscape.”


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