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San Rafael Swell - North

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Assembly Hall Peak 
Bottleneck Peak 
Calf Mesa 
Coal Wash 
Cottonwood Wash 
Dead Mans Spires 
Dog Pond/Road area 
Eagle Canyon 
Frolic Wall 
Gun Show, The 
Head of Sinbad North 
Lower Buckhorn Wash 
Mexican Mountain Road Area 
Moore Cutoff Road 
Pine Canyon 
Private Pizza Wall 
San Rafael Canyon - AKA Little Grand Canyon 
Scenic Byway Wall 
Smith Cabin. Nothern Reef area 
Tiki Tower 
Torres de Polvo 
Upper Buckhorn 
Vertical Smile Wall 
Weasel Formation, The 
Window Blind Peak Area 

San Rafael Swell - North  

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Location: 39.07827, -110.66498 View Map  Incorrect?
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The San Rafael Swell is a large anticline that is split in two by I-70. Much of the documented climbing north of the interstate is concentrated within a few miles of the BLM campground at the junction of Cottonwood Wash Road and the Mexican Mountain Road. This campground has tables and a toilet and charges $3/person/night. There are many free camping opportunities along both of these roads and within a quick drive/bikeride of the toilet. There is no fresh water, and firewood is nonexistent. The largest concentration of routes is on the Dylan Wall two miles east of the campground on the north side of the river. The Mexican Mountain Road (to the Dylan Wall) is easily passable by two-wheel drive vehicles unless the road has been washed out. Eric Bjornstad's Desert Rock (Wall Street to the San Rafael Swell) offers a selection of climbs and an impressive history and geology lesson that should not be missed. While this area does not offer an extensive amount of established routes in comparison to places like Indian Creek, it has a sense of gradeur and seclusion that makes it every bit as enjoyable.

Getting There 

30 miles west of the interstate exit for Green River, take exit 131. Make two rights and follow I-70 back east for a few miles then north for 20 miles to the San Rafael River and the campgrounds. This road was in excellent shape for two-wheel drive traffic (10/02). The road continues north up Buckhorn wash, or once across the bridge the Mexican Mountain Road (signed) goes east along the river.

Climbing Season

Weather station 20.5 miles from here

117 Total Routes

['4 Stars',16],['3 Stars',41],['2 Stars',41],['1 Star',15],['Bomb',3]

The Classics

Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for San Rafael Swell - North:
Private Pizza   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 70'   Private Pizza Wall
KRGA   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 80'   Pine Canyon
Unknown Handcrack   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 60'   Private Pizza Wall
Devastator Tower   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a     Trad, 80'   The Weasel Formation
Scenic Byway   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, 4 pitches, 400'   Scenic Byway Wall
Blowin' in the Wind   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 150'   Mexican Mountain Road Area : Dylan Wall
Old Bushmills   5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 70'   Pine Canyon
Cheek Full of Redman   5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 70'   Private Pizza Wall
Bob Can't Climb   5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 160'   Mexican Mountain Road Area : Dylan Wall
James Tower AKA The Lightblub   5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b A1     Trad, Aid, 3 pitches, 200'   Lower Buckhorn Wash
Anchors From Hell   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 80'   Pine Canyon
One More Cup of Coffee   5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 165'   Mexican Mountain Road Area : Dylan Wall
Short Stack   5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 80'   Lower Buckhorn Wash
Lite Not Solid   5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 160'   Pine Canyon
Planet Waves   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Trad, 1 pitch, 100'   Mexican Mountain Road Area : Dylan Wall
Zoomerang   5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c     Trad, 4 pitches   Bottleneck Peak
Rabid Muslim   5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c     Trad, 1 pitch, 120'   Pine Canyon
Idiot Wind   5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a     Trad, 1 pitch, 80'   Mexican Mountain Road Area : Dylan Wall
Tippin The Botttle   5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a     Trad, 3 pitches, 450'   Bottleneck Peak
Blood on the Tracks   5.12 7b+ 27 VIII+ 26 E6 6b     Trad, 1 pitch, 60'   Mexican Mountain Road Area : Dylan Wall
Browse More Classics in San Rafael Swell - North

Featured Route For San Rafael Swell - North
Resurrection Spire, San Rafael Swell. F.A. 16th Oct 2003.

Resurrection Spire 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a C1  UT : San Rafael Swell : ... : Dead Mans Spires
Resurrection Spire. 300' III 5.9. C1. This spire is on the left end (west) of the large spires above the campsite. The central spire also has a route on its north side. It looks a very good line, probably done in the 80s by as yet unknown climbers. There are several approaches, the easiest is by a stone chute below and right of the three smaller spire formations. Then walk below these smaller spires to the far end and north side of the big spires to Resurrection(one will pass the 80s route up t...[more]   Browse More Classics in UT

Photos of San Rafael Swell - North Slideshow Add Photo
Kody Watts navigating the crux of Idiot Wind, 5.11c, Dylan Wall
Kody Watts navigating the crux of Idiot Wind, 5.11...
Swell resident ..quite rare
Swell resident ..quite rare
Buckhorn Wash Pictograph <br />Photo by: Frosty Weller
Buckhorn Wash Pictograph
Photo by: Frosty Weller
Fall colors in the Swell 10/25/2009
Fall colors in the Swell 10/25/2009
A fine day in the Swell <br />photo: Andy Anderson
A fine day in the Swell
photo: Andy Anderson
The San Rafael Bridges and the tasteful graffiti underneath the bridge.
The San Rafael Bridges and the tasteful graffiti u...
Morning in the Swell
Morning in the Swell
Beautiful fall day in the Swell taken 10/25/2009
Beautiful fall day in the Swell taken 10/25/2009
View over the central section of the Northern San Rafael Swell
View over the central section of the Northern San ...
Unknown climber in the Swell
Unknown climber in the Swell
Horus Tower
Horus Tower
Some recent rockfall visible from Napes Needle.  Looks like it happened fairly recently because there are no plants growing in it yet.
Some recent rockfall visible from Napes Needle. L...
Resurrection Spire
Resurrection Spire
Climbing Million Dollar Bash on the Dylan Wall, The Swell. Good times!
Climbing Million Dollar Bash on the Dylan Wall, Th...
Tovia Tower
Tovia Tower

Comments on San Rafael Swell - North Add Comment
Show which comments
By Hill
Jan 16, 2003
Buckhorn Wash has one of the most impressive rock art panels found anywhere in the desert, perhaps second only to those found in Horseshoe Canyon of Canyon Lands. With incredibly easy access, stop by and be puzzled by this bizarre creation.
From: Cumbria.UK
Oct 12, 2004
Note the description to The Weasel, Breezeway, and Pinnacle in the Desert Rock II is incorrect. The road into this area is 6.1 miles south from the San Rafael River bridge (NOT 2.2) on the right (west) with a cattle guard.
By James Garrett
Feb 28, 2006
I agree with Scott. Just because one does not happen to read the name of an obvious previously visited tower in the SR Swell in a guidebook, does not mean one should stick to the name thought up by someone who bolt ladders their way to the top with cheap fare. A case in point is that I once submitted tower and route names to EB for unclimbed towers in the Southern Swell. Turkey Tower had been named by hikers and a hiking guidebook author previous to my climbs. The same was the case for Broken Cross (I had named it Head of Sinbad in the register I left at the time. Though I preferred other names for these proud formations, it is only correct to defer to previously held names. Scott's history needs to be told, written, submitted to EB, and remembered. Tibia Tower should be the name in red at the top of the page, rather than whatever, for what my opinion is worth. But I am confused.... for Tibia Tower is the other name for The Breezeway...which definitely had not been climbed before Jim Howe topped out on it with his wife a day after he joined me on the final pitches for the first ascent (of the hard side) of the Pinnacle. Also, any chance the route descriptions could be run through spell checker before they are set in stone?
By Malcolm Daly
From: Boulder, CO
Apr 9, 2006
The exit number is 131, not 129. Don't know where the #129 came from (Bjornstat's book?) but it's wrong.
From: Cumbria.UK
Jun 30, 2006
Over the last year the Exits and Mile Markers numbers have changed on parts of I.70
From: Cumbria.UK
Oct 11, 2006
Tibia Tower is located next to Resurrection Spire, See that description. There is a fine looking route up its North face. One of the FA party broke his tibia hence the name of the route.
By Ben Folsom
Nov 19, 2007
Is Tibia Tower in the main group of bigger spires at the Deadmans Spires formation? We climbed the tallest of the three shorter towers to the Northeast. There had been a previous attempt where a big block with a bolt in it was laying at the base of the route. The block obviously came off from below a roof about 30 feet up the route. There was another bolt just below where this block fell off. These two bolts were totally unnecessary. The tower had not been climbed on above that point. I had to clean big loose blocks to make it feasible. I climbed the route without placing any bolts except for the summit anchor. I'm just wondering if they are calling Hermits Hovel, Tibia Tower. Because if they are, it had not been climbed until Nov. 17th 2007 by me and Maura Hahnenberger. There were no anchors on the summit, and no way that anybody had climbed above where the block and bolt pulled out of the wall on the previous attempt.