San Rafael Swell Mountain Biking

by Julie Trevelyan

Utah Mountain Biking

Utah Mountain Biking – San Rafael Swell

Utah mountain biking ranks among the finest in the world. The San Rafael Swell, or the Swell as Utahans call it is still fairly undiscovered. This sweet spot for ripping down trails or easy pedaling through some of the most scenic vistas around. On a Holiday San Rafael Swell mountain bike trip, you get the chance to enjoy seeing wildlife, ancient petroglyphs, and old cowboy camp and mining camp remains. The best part? We almost guarantee you’ll experience a ton of solitude in this very undervisited, very gorgeous area.


You’ll meet up with everyone in Green River, Utah, and get ready to head out from there. Most of the trails are dirt two-track roads that wind, dip, climb, and meander through the red canyons and hills of the Swell. Spring wildflowers can delight, and the changing leaves on cottonwood trees in the fall add even more color to your photos. Your mountain biking adventure ends at the Wedge Overlook, also known as the Little Grand Canyon. What a view! Join Holiday for a trip that offers a magnificent yet soothing sanctuary from your daily cares, and get a little rejuvenation while mountain biking through the Swell.

About the Swell

Excellent hiking opportunities

Eighty miles long and 30 miles wide, the Swell is a sprawling public lands section overseen by the Bureau of Land Management. Geographic, geologic, and human history all mark the area with fascinating stories. Anywhere from 40 to 60 million years ago enormous land movement created the Swell. Today, buttes, mesas, and canyons shape the land and give your mountain biking trails pizzazz and excitement. Hondoo Arch in particular is a unique, memorable arch found deep in the Swell, towering above the Muddy River.

Viewing preserved dinosaur tracks leads to speculation about what the area looked like when those extinct creatures still roamed.

Long-gone Native American groups left their mark in the form of petroglyphs and pictographs, some of which your guides will point out to you along the trail.


Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch Gang often rode through the Swell en route to their hiding places in the famous Robbers Roost area just to the east.

Old mining structures, ore cart rails, and boarded-up mine shafts allow your imagination to wonder what it would have been like to be a miner way back when.

Animals you’ll possibly sight along the way include bald eagles, golden eagles, all manner of hawks, bighorn sheep, and wild horses and burros. These feral equids are descendants of horses either escaped or deliberately set free by those traveling the old Spanish Trail, cowboys looking to strengthen bloodlines for their future mounts, and more modern people who simply supplanted four-footed travel with wheeled vehicles.




Julie TrevelyanWritten by Julie Trevelyan.

Julie is a freelance writer and wilderness guide in southern Utah. She especially enjoys books, coffee, yoga, wild country, horses, and dark chocolate.

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