The Little Grand Canyon, San Rafael Swell, Utah

We’ve had some really incredible campsites on this trip, but this one definitely takes the cake! I’m camped about 10 feet from the rim at the Little Grand Canyon at the Wedge Overlook in the San Rafael Swell. For those of you not on the imperial system I’ll put it another way, I can see the river at the bottom of the canyon while I wash the dishes!

This canyon has some epic rim-side camping spots. Most of them, like mine, are outside the official primitive campground down a bumpy dirt road on BLM land. I spotted the perfect spot right at the beginning of that road, hooray!

Spotting it was the easy part as it turns out. Maneuvering a 25ft hunk of metal, in reverse, on a downward slant, towards the cliff edge was the real test of how badly I wanted a scenic spot. Check out the reverse cam picture! I was very careful and moved slower than a lethargic slug, but eventually got the RV into the PERFECT spot. There was even a gap between juniper trees to extend the slide-out into!

I love watching Atlas’ reaction when he gets out of the RV after we pull into a new spot. This one was the funniest yet. He flew out the door, as normal, but them stopped dead in his tracks as he tried to absorb what he was looking at. Ha!

The sunrises were epic!

I was especially excited to be here because my good friend, Tarja, was coming down from Salt Lake to spend the weekend with us! Yay! We had a super fun time catching up over a few glasses of wine (who am I kidding, her dog’s name is Bordeaux, her measure of wine is in bottles not glasses) and some hikes.

I had a belated birthday surprise for her too! I’d got 2 servings of the Cowboy Meatloaf and some kind of amazing chocolate dessert from Hell’s Backbone Kitchen when I passed through Boulder a couple days earlier. Hells Backbone is one of the best restaurants in Utah and I knew to be one of Tarja’s favorites, so I couldn’t help but plan a delicious meal for her! We watched the sunset over a glass of wine, edit, bottle of wine, then sat down and enjoyed the meal. Good friends are so wonderful! I’m really going to miss our hikes and dinners, Tarja!

Tarja and I were paired in a professional mentoring program years earlier, me as mentee and her as mentor. The algorithm for the pairing was spot on, she was exactly who I needed to learn from professionally but so much more than that, we hit it off from the very first second and have grown to be the best of friends. She was even with me at the hospital for Millie’s birth. Awww.

Luckily the world is a small place and I know we’ll have many more bottles of wine! In the meantime there’s always video calling on our Peleton bikes! She rides to #pelo4wine so they promise to be fun rides.

The funniest thing we got up to was carving a pumpkin and putting Millie in it for some Halloween fun. Millie was not a fan!!!

Aside from Tarja’s visit, Atlas, Millie and I went for walks along the rim and hung out and looked at the view. Millie is now obsessed with small details and so she spent all her spare time playing with and munching on labels.

I reminisced aloud to Millie about all the very fun and super scenic backpacking adventures Atlas and I had done at the bottom of the canyon. This canyon has been one of my go-to spots for a quick weekend trip for years, because it is much closer to Salt Lake than other desert backpacking spots; although I’m not sure i’d call this a backpacking spot, in all of our trips I’d seen very few other backpackers on the trail. It’s very popular with rafters floating the river and pulling over to camp for a night, but not for foot propelled adventurers. As a result the trail gets very overgrown in parts, especially upstream of Kane Wash, and an adventure up any of the side canyons had always become a bit of an epic experience and on the slightly crazy end of the route finding spectrum. I don’t think I ever posted about any of our trips down there. Here’s a few pics from the bottom of the canyon.

I was a little sad driving out of the Swell, when will I be back in the desert? I hadn’t taken Chuck Pyle off my playlist when I left Colorado so I enjoyed listening to Keep ‘em Steady Cowgirl as I drove the long dirt road out of there, singing along “wide open spaces…”.

I have loved living so close to the incredible landscapes of Southern Utah and am so happy that I found time to do so many fun backpacking adventures over the years. I will be back someday, and because of the wonderful system of land management and protection here in the US, I know the canyons, buttes and other landscapes will look exactly as I have left them, minus some erosion from Mother Nature.

Next stop…. a LONG way from here.

Thanks for reading. -Elevated

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