February 25th, 2004

sanrafael

San Rafael Swell

Location: Portland, Oregon

My trip across Utah this weekend took me over a lot of new road. Of particular interest was the stretch of I-70 between Green River and Salina, Utah known as the San Rafael Swell. Geologic processes pushed the mantle of th Earth up into the crust, breaking the brittle sandstone and creating a huge rock dome in the middle of the desert. Over the millenia, wind and water has whittled the rock away one grain of quartz at a time, leaving behind stark monoliths and deep canyons.

Approaching from the east, the swell is a dramatic site, with huge slabs of rock turned on end, pointing at the sky. This area, known as the San Rafael Reef has been nicknamed "The Silent City" because of its city-scape-like view against the horizon. Trucks coming out of the pass are dwarfed by the massive layers of vertical rock.



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