One of the rest areas along I-70 in the stretch that goes through the San Rafael Swell area.

Eagle Canyon View Area

For my post about this section of Interstate 70 and links to the other rest areas on it visit this page.

Standing at the bottom of the Ocean

Standing here you are standing on a limestone layer of the Carmel formation, which formed in an ancient inland sea. The is was sea that covered the giant sand dunes that eventually turned to massive deposits of Navajo Sandstone. The formation is prevalent across the Colorado Plateau. Here at the San Rafael Swell, erosion has cut the Navajo Sandstone into great white monoliths, knobs, and canyons bearing names such as Ghost Rock, Locomotive Point, Joe and his Dog, Eagle Canyon, and Temple Mountain. A good eye can see how the rock layers dip slightly to the west. Eventually the monoliths will become knobs, the knobs will become mounds, and the mounds will succumb to erosion and disappear. The great cliff you now stand atop will also be worn away a grain at a time and “the hills will be made low.”

Stay and Play

From here you may choose to take the Moore Road to SR-10 and the communities of Castle Valley, which are excellent staging areas for a visit to the San Rafael Swell. The Wedge Overlook, the Swinging Bridge, the Cleveland Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry, and Coal Wash are favorite attractions. With some time and planning, you can have a lot of fun hiking, biking, four-wheeling, and horseback riding in the Swell. But without a guide or a good map, it can be a deadly place. If you do go into the Swell on your own, you are advised to have an accurate map, plenty of water, gasoline, and some food. Tell someone exactly where you are going and stay on trails and roads.

Four Brothers

Only the most daring cowboys inhabited the San Rafael Swell and the most notorious of them all were the Swaseys. Landmarks throughout the Swell bearthe names of the four brothers, Charlie, Sid, Rod and Joe. From here you can see the Sid’s Mountain Wilderness Study Area. The Swaseys named this place Eagle Canyon. They said it was so deep that an eagle couldn’t fly out of it. Perhaps they were right. The bridges spanning the canyon are built 300 feet above the canyon floor. The Swasey boys first came to Castle Valley and the San Rafael Swell in 1875. The Swell was where they worked and played. They captured wild horses in traps made from twisted juniper trees and prospected and mined for gold, silver, and uranium. They never became rich, but they enriched the lore of the West.