Camping in San Rafael Swell, Utah | A Short Photo Journal Entry

We’re headed back to October for this blog series that I never wrote, so if you see fall colors and are wondering why it looks like that in May and June when I’m writing these blogs, well, that’s why! The hustle and bustle of my life never cease to end, and I often get to blogs long after they’ve happened. It’s kind of a problem, but I’m hoping to solve that by just writing weekly blogs instead of trying to cram in a bunch of blogs over a number of days and then going dormant for weeks. That seems like it’s more sustainable. And then, if I have a particularly slow week, maybe I can throw in some bonus blogs for you all.

Sound decent?

I think it does.

Camp for the next few nights! It was pretty sparse over here – not many people and plenty of sites!
The nearest people to me were probably 1000-2000 feet away. It was quiet at night!

I had a weekend to myself in mid-October 2022 so I decided to truck on down to southern Utah to San Rafael Swell. It was going to be colder at night and in the mornings (the high 30s to mid-40s), but daytime temperatures still rose to the mid-70s and possibly even low 80s while I was there! It made for some pretty extreme temperature differences. Despite that, it was such a lovely adventure to a place I’d never been before and I truly loved every second of every day!

There’s something so simple about getting away to a place you’ve never been on a solo trip. I was able to do everything I wanted to do and explore at my own pace, which was just awesome! I’m kinda slow sometimes since I take so many photos. And, during the sunrises and sunsets, I like to take it slow and shoot some photos I wouldn’t normally get to do while traveling in a group.

This spot was a short drive from my campsite down a pretty rough dirt road. It was awesome!
The views here are spectacular. I love seeing these layers of the earth – the Staircase.
A closer shot of the imposing walls. It’s so quiet out here.
This car can do it all! I love this machine!

I’ve learned to love a few different things about the desert.

One, the great expanse of it all. The desert is massive. However, it’s no bigger than a large forest or a mountainous region, or the seashore down in California. No, it’s no different than these in that regard. What does make it truly unique is how expansive it is – and how you can see it from so many different angles and places. Sure, when you’re hiking through a forest, you might come to a spectacular viewpoint where you see the incredible forest. But, for the most part, you’re covered in thick trees. These views don’t come around often! In the dest, you can see the expanse for miles and miles and miles. It’s just a different feeling.

The desert is curious – high canyon walls with a river below, and expansive plains on top.
The great expanse of the desert as seen from a different viewpoint. There’s just nothin’ around!

Second, the desert is quiet. It’s still. There aren’t many trees and bushes are small and stubby. There are cacti and smaller succulents, but such a harsh environment makes it tough for animals to live here. So, there aren’t many animals that habitat this climate, making it quieter. Wind doesn’t have trees to whistle through, there are no leafy trees for animals to climb on, and the desert is harsh even for the human visitor. I can walk for a mile or two, even for 10-15 minutes, and find total and complete silence, even though my car is close by. That’s silence for ya!

I did find a few pronghorns to photograph around sunset. Found them just on the side of the road!
I was one of the only people here for the sunset. It was quiet. I hope you can feel the silence.

Third, and last, the colors of the desert come alive in spectacular fashion. I think many people might see the desert as a monochrome color palette, but I see the most brilliant reds, yellows, oranges, blues, and greens while I’m out there. Sometimes it’s the rock colors; other times, it’s the sand and dirt colors. Trees really make the landscape green, and the sky always seems bluer in the desert. It’s probably because human activity is hundreds of miles away, negating pollution that would make skies gray with smog. Some of my most colorful photos have come from the desert, and some of my best days have been spent in the desert. It’s a beautiful place!

Color in the desert. Autumn leaves help a little bit too!
Green, yellow, orange, brown, and blue, all in this image. It’s just gorgeous!

I’ll never get tired of the desert. I’ll never stop coming back to explore more of the desert. Each year, I get down to Southern Utah at least once a year, usually twice. This beauty is located so close to Salt Lake that I could head down there a few weekends every year and knock off small sections with consistency! There are so many other areas I want to explore as well, and so many spots where my car won’t be able to take me. I’m so thrilled to be able to explore this beautiful landscape and share some of my best images with you all.

I’ll close it out with a few more images, and then we’ll get into the details of this trip, including the hikes, some more photo journal entries, and a few postcards. It should be a pretty exciting few weeks ahead of us! I can’t wait to share it all with you.

One of the most spectacular overlooks I’ve ever seen. More on this to come!
The road that took me in and out of this gorgeous place!
Hanging around in the bottom of the canyon. This hike was a fun one!

Ta-tah for now,


Parting shot:

Sunset at camp. Desert sunsets are some of the prettiest.

Next blog: Hiking the Goodwater Canyon Rim Trail.

P.S. I’m launching a new feature on my blog and there’s a little story behind it. I always want to share my best photos and oftentimes, I won’t share my very best photos with you all. The reason is quite simple – I think my very best photos required a lot of skill and editing, and sometimes they hold sentimental value for me. Well, for the first time ever, I’m going to be offering some photos available for a small donation charge! I’ll mention how many photos are in the package, and what the image is. I promise you won’t be disappointed. These are going to be some of my very best photos and photos that I’m willing to share!

Below, I have the donation box set up for you. If you feel so inclined and would like to support me financially, please do so! This website is NOT going to turn into a paid site. I think I’d do a poor job at handling something like that, seeing as how my posting is pretty inconsistent. I see the donation box as a better solution. Every once in a while, I’ll have some photos for purchase! We’ll continue with the regular blogs, in full, vivid detail, with spectacular photos. Everything you’ve gotten before is exactly how it’ll still be – with the option of seeing my very best photos.

You get the idea 🙂 See ya next time!


4 thoughts on “Camping in San Rafael Swell, Utah | A Short Photo Journal Entry

  1. Gosh, that sunset is sublime! The canyon peaks are over-saturated with that sun’s glow, and the bases heavily shadowed, signaling that the day’s end is near. You had a wonderful solo trip, it seems– I, too, enjoy a solo trip, not to forget not publishing my travel posts until months (even a year) later, haha! Here’s to the next adventure. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I knowww!! It was way too pretty up there, I absolutely loved watching the sunset. There are not many times when I’m alone and can just watch the sun set over the valley like this and constantly take photos completely uninterrupted. It was so peaceful!

      Liked by 1 person

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