Easter Weekend Day 3: The Upper San Rafael

Scott Chandler

Wildness is a necessity- John Muir
Jan 4, 2014
After two days of technical and non technical canyoneering I wanted something a little different. After a lot of thought I decided to visit an area I haven't been to since I was wee: The Upper San Rafael.

Driving into the gorge from Buckhorn Draw was pretty sweet. I like how the BLM labelled the rock layers as the road descends through the strata. I had one little research on what I would find, I just had the plan to make in to the river and hike to some pictographs marked in a Kelsey guidebook.

My first stop was at the Morrison-Knudson Tunnels. While I enjoy the subterranean feel of canyons, I could not extend that feeling and work in a mine. That would be rough.
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I stopped at a couple other turnoffs but all they did was make me irritated at the lack of respect people have. The areas were trashed with vandalism. It amazes me how in an age when anyone can know most anything about you at any time, we have to wreck the only links to a differing past. Names etched over petroglyphs, rock walls shot (who thinks shooting a wall of rock is fun???), and other scars to the natural state. Its a shame the area isn't better protected as it was just awesome.
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Luckily I was able replace some of those bad feelings with awe at the Buckhorn Panel. I find the Barrier Canyon rock art beyond belief. This panel was also sweet for the variety of subjects present.
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After the Panel I found myself at the river. Time to find those pictographs that were supposed to be below The Wedge.
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It was quite the pretty walk but I did not have much of an idea on where I had to go. I did not know which hill was the "Petroglyph Butte" so I was just hiking really. It was right as I was about to turn around that I spotted them. Can you see them below?
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Now to hike up to them... They were certainly neat to find though. Very different from any I had seen before. There were some old bighorn petroglyphs present too. Worth the walk.
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After making it back to the car I headed to The Wedge Overlook. It was mighty cloudy, and windy so while the view was certainly grand it could have been more awesome.
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I wrestled with the thought of camping or heading home. By now the wind was crazy. Luckily I decided to stick around. As I was sitting in my car enjoying a book the sun magically made an appearance. It was also prime time for that sunlight to light the Wedge view pretty nice. I raced to the rim, and was not disappointed.
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Some weekends are so nice!

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