Buckhorn Draw – Petroglyphs, Caves, and Canyons in the San Rafael Swell

Buckhorn Draw – Petroglyphs, Caves, and Canyons in the San Rafael Swell

Buckhorn Draw Road cuts through the northern part of the San Rafael Swell. Driving through it, you can connect between I-70 west of Green River, up to Cleveland and Price on Highyway 6.  It is a far more interesting way to pass through that part of Utah, instead of just following 60 miles of 2 lane highway from Price to Green River. 

We did the drive yesterday, dodging between thunderstorms on the way. I’ll describe the route coming from the north, but either direction is just as interesting. As you approach Buckhorn Draw Road, you start to see a small canyon, which quickly grows to surround the road, rising a couple hundred feet above you. About 1 miles in is your first spot to see petroglyphs. It is not very well marked — just a wide spot in the road with a sign that says “Rock Art”. Park here, and follow the trail north. You’ll scramble up a small rock pile behind which is a flat section of cliff. Head about 30 feet east of the trail, and you’ll see some petroglyphs on the wall. It is a small collection, and you’ll be more impressed with the other art in a few miles…

Continue driving another couple 3.5ish miles, then start watching to your left (East). You’ll see a small parking area and a cave behind it. We wanted to explore the cave, so we got out and walked up. It is not a large cave — maybe 20 feet across, and low enough that you’ll hit your head on top unless you crouch down a bit. People have built fires in the cave, and it really would be a decent spot to camp out, with a sandy, flat floor. 

Once you are done exploring the cave, continue down Buckhorn Draw Road for another half mile or so, and you’ll see a well-marked parking area and sign marking the main petroglyph area. There is a large walls of petroglyphs here,  with explanatory signs giving more information about them. This is also the location you’ll see on maps marked as “Buckhorn Draw Petroglyph Panel”. 

Onec you’ve had your fill of the petroglyphs, contiue south on Buckhorn Draw road, and watch for an area where the canyon widens a bit, with a parking area on the right. Pull out in that area, and walk back about 50 feet along the road, and look east — if there is still running water in the area, depending on the time of year, you may see a couple small waterfalls coming down off the rocks. You will see one is easily from the road. The other is tucked under the brush — walk to where the water crosses under the road, and you’ll see it – just a small 4 foot waterfall 10 feet before the road. 

Continuing south down the road, you’ll come to the San Rafael bridge. This is the only suspension bridge in Utah. Park near it, and you can walk across the bridge. It goes over the San Rafael river, and when we were there we also found a number lizards on the bridge, to the delight of my children. 

After you head south of the bridge, the terrain remains interesting to look at for the remainder of the drive — but there aren’t as many specific places to stop. You will see a fenced-off sinkhole a few miles before I-70 which is mildly interesting… but for the most part, you now enjoy a drive down the road until you return to I-70, about 30 miles west of Green River.

Buckhorn Draw
Buckhorn Draw
Buckhorn Draw
Buckhorn Draw
Buckhorn Draw
Buckhorn Draw
Buckhorn Draw
Buckhorn Draw
Buckhorn Draw
Buckhorn Draw
Buckhorn Draw
Buckhorn Draw

 

How To Get To Buckhorn Draw Road

I’m going to cheat a bit and just tell you to use Google Maps to find Buckhorn Draw Road – its directions are good for this route, and it isn’t thrown off by minor dirt roads like some other places in Utah. (The reasons for which are another story, for another day…)

I’m also not giving a specific route because this road isn’t the only thing to see. There is a vast area of open space, a state parks, and the dinosaur quarry, and the Wedge overlook all in this area as well. I’d encourage you to make a full day of exploring this area. 

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