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Advice for San Rafael Swell


Original Post
AmandaM · · Jackson, WY · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 10

We're considering a trip to the San Rafael Swell next week and are looking for some advice. We have a two-year old who will most likely be coming with us on climbing days.  We'll also be a group of three adults who climb at different levels, so it would be nice to find areas with a wide range of grades (5.6 up to 5.12), or areas where we can hit a couple different crags in the same day to satisfy everyone.  Any advice on kid-friendly cragging areas we should check out?  Also, any advice for fun hikes or good, dispersed camping?  Thanks!

greggrylls · · Salt Lake City · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 28

The Swell is awesome you'll love it!

I have only been 4 times but that has been in the last year and all climbing trips so I know a little.

Buckhorn wash is where most people go.  I've only been in this area. Private pizza wall is the go too wall where most beginner to intermediate climbers (such as myself go)  I lead 5.9 ish on gear while i've got stronger friends.  Lot's of aid climbs there if that's your thing.  Bring lots of water,  I don't know of any spigots.  Bring a map or printed directions.  Stuff isn't hard to find but no cell service plus dark and lots of random dirt roads =easy to get lost if you're driving in at night.

I've heard the dylan wall is awesome.  I mostly want to climb there because Bob is my favorite artist.  Camping is abundant, weather is great there.  The sandstone alps have long easy multipitch routes however from friends who have done them they say they are pretty runout but fun.  There is a lot of climbing in a small area in buckhorn but definitely some driving and approaches so no beforehand how to find stuff or get a good map.  Don't rely on MP for your only source of directions to crags.  That's about all I can think of.  Oh there is a dinosaur quarry.  My girlfriend and I really like palentology.  I found it disappointing as most if not all bones have been removed.  Though it was a source of a huge concentration of allosaurus skeletons.  Anyway i'm rambling haha.  Have fun!

ADDED :Private pizza is definitely kids friendly and there is are a few camping sites 5 minutes walk from the wall.  

Andy Novak · · Golden, Co · Joined Aug 2007 · Points: 355

Agreed, Private Pizza and Buckhorn is what you are looking for. About 7 routes, minimal approach, 5.8-5.11 on that wall. Other walls in the area are also great (Dylan is like Indian Creek on steroids, if your people want perfect 40 meter 5.12 finger cracks, tell them to check that out, but approach not good for kids). Great camping/kids zone just below the P.P,. but that spot is often taken (lots of other places around, try to get there on a weekday) Getting the Trails Illustrated topo is worth it. Obvi check out the amazing rock art panels, but don't forget to drive up canyon and go to the viewpoint (called the Little Grand Canyon overlook or "wedge" overlook) Lots of ATV's around so be prepared for that, but its an amazing area, like a little Zion I like to say, and if you listen closely you can hear the owls and coyotes talking to each other. Its wild. 

AmandaM · · Jackson, WY · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 10

Thank you so much!  This all sounds awesome!  Maybe we can snag a kid-free day for the Dylan Wall. :)

Thanks again!

Roy Suggett · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 6,480

Call IME (801) 484-8073.  They put up the majority of the lines out there and have a lot of history.

oldfattradguuy kk · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2006 · Points: 170
Roy Suggett wrote:

Call IME (801) 484-8073.  They put up the majority of the lines out there and have a lot of history.

Not the northern part, a guy Mike Friedrichs did most of the loins share in the buckhorn, and Mexican mtn road area.  If you are solid on 5.10 and up the Dylan wall is worth it.  If you want runout slab call Andy a time, his father put up a lot on the reef.

In buckhorn start scoping all obvious lines with binoculars and you will be rewarded.

U can pm me for some beta.

Todd

AmandaM · · Jackson, WY · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 10
oldfattradguuy kk wrote:

Not the northern part, a guy Mike Friedrichs did most of the loins share in the buckhorn, and Mexican mtn road area.  If you are solid on 5.10 and up the Dylan wall is worth it.  If you want runout slab call Andy a time, his father put up a lot on the reef.

In buckhorn start scoping all obvious lines with binoculars and you will be rewarded.

U can pm me for some beta.

Todd

Thanks Todd. Dylan Wall is definitely on the list. Is the staging area beneath the climbs also not kid friendly, or is it mainly the fixed line approach? We've brought our kid some crazy places so I'm not counting it out yet.

Andrew Gram · · Salt Lake City, UT · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 3,580

As said, the Buckhorn is your best bet for a first trip.  My favorite camping around there is in Red Canyon off of Mexican Mountain Road.  Lots of good climbing back there too - Spaghetti Western Wall is as good as anything in the Buckhorn with a couple of great 5.9 cracks as well as harder stuff, but no one ever goes there.  Longish approach, but no fixed lines to deal with.

Tiki Tower is a fun little tower in the area.

For hikes, hiking up either fork of Red Canyon is great, and the trail along the San Rafael River heading west into the Little Grand Canyon is stunning.

Haley D · · Salt Lake City · Joined Mar 2010 · Points: 175
AmandaM wrote:

Thanks Todd. Dylan Wall is definitely on the list. Is the staging area beneath the climbs also not kid friendly, or is it mainly the fixed line approach? We've brought our kid some crazy places so I'm not counting it out yet.

The approach is definitely the main deterrent for me not taking my kids up there. The staging area isn't super kid friendly either, a bit more hazardous in some places than I'd like for my kids, and I've taken them to some pretty crazy places as well. 

Pine Canyon and Private Pizza would be perfect though. 

Tim Lutz · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 5

anything approachable with an ATV?  asking for a friend...

Andrew Gram · · Salt Lake City, UT · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 3,580

ATVs are useful for approaching everything in Coal Wash, particularly the Twin Priests along the Devils Racetrack.  The San Rafael Knob area also has a few towers with difficult road approaches, and are easier free climbs than the stuff in Coal Wash.  Head of Sinbad South and Swaseyland also have some adventurous driving once you descend into Egle Canyon past Swasey's Cabin.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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