Best time of year for San Rafael Swell/Cedar Mesa ?

Jun 7, 2015
I really, REALLY need to get out for a 10 day -2 week road trip , with daily, day hikes and possibly an easy overnighter. I've had a route planned for the past three years, that I still haven't been able to complete. I'd rather do it in late April to catch the desert bloom and more importantly, take advantage of the longer daylight, but my other option is Sept..

Primary purpose is to visit as many Native American Art sites / Cliff Dwellings as possible, and also hit a slot canyon or two.

The loop I would like to take is from home (Ft.Collins,CO) through Dinosaur Monument/McConkie Ranch, then 9 Mile Canyon for a couple of days, to "The Swell" for several days, a day in Horseshoe Canyon, then to Comb Ridge/Cedar Mesa for several more days and back, probably through Mesa Verde.

What do you consider the "prime time" for a roadtrip to the area ?
Late March/early April for Spring and Blooms, Early October for Changing leaves on Cottonwoods.
Hey man, good to see you here.

You will soon have some really good insights, this is the place for Utah.

First weekend of April 2007

Utah Indian Creek April Bloom.jpg
Eardley Canyon is quite beautiful in the Swell. It is an in and then out back to the car, as you will be stopped by the technical section (unless you are taking ropes). The upper and lower black box is also an option, a lot of swimming, but a summer day would be best. These are only three options among many.
Cedar Mesa is a huge place, with many options also. You can't go wrong wherever you go. Perhaps a little more info on what you like would be helpful. Gran Gulch will be crowded I think, but obviously is a must see. Slickhorn, Johns, Point Lookout canyons, and any number of side canyons are all great. Lower Grand gulch with it's side cayons is an option,
(especially Pine canyon), Road, Mule (north and south), are beautiful, Mule will be a little cooler I think. Depending on your skills, a North to south mule loop is fun. Texas Canyon off of Arch Canyon is spectacular. I have no experience in Coomb Ridge so someone could help here. Have fun!
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