The San Rafael Swell region of Utah lies just west of Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, yet relatively few mainstream tourists venture into this unique landscape. In fact, after driving west past Moab, this section of I-70 becomes more of a fly-by area and most travelers are content with just taking in the scenery while passing through. A quick glance at a map will show nothing but a huge desolate blank spot, but those who use the zoom function will see plenty of interesting things to do in the San Rafael Swell. The Buckhorn Wash is one of many points of interest in the swell and all it takes is a little research to see that several days can be spent in this unique place without boredom entering the picture. If you are into hiking, experiencing ancient sacred places and viewing prehistoric dinosaur tracks, then a Buckhorn Wash adventure should be chalked high on the to-do list!
A previous article describes the best travel route to Buckhorn Wash and the best place to start the venture, which is the official visitor center located near the Wedge Recreation Area. The focus in the article was placed upon Buckhorn Wash dispersed camping, since it will take a few days to explore all that this unique place has to offer. Touring the Buckhorn Wash at dawn certainly is an eye opening experience when the sunlight paints the canyon walls with a golden glow. The early morning light is also perfect for viewing the Buckhorn Wash Dinosaur Track, which is one of the most popular points of interest in this area.
About 180 million years ago, a large meat eating dinosaur walked over the dunes in this region, which later fossilized as sandstone and the footprints were preserved. Layers upon layers of sedimentary rock formations covered the tracks, then the San Rafael Swell upheaval event slowly occurred, which exposed many hidden geological relics of the past. Eons of erosive forces had a revealing effect too, which is evident in the Buckhorn Wash where a small section of sandstone was uncovered with a complete dinosaur track intact. The Buckhorn Wash Dinosaur Track is well marked and the sandstone shelf is located next to the roadside, so it is very easy to take a look. This solitary meat eating dinosaur track is best viewed in the dim morning light, which is all the inspiration needed for doing an overnighter in this majestic dry wash canyon!
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