Speak Up for the San Rafael Swell!

Jul 1st, 2024 Written by Laura Peterson

Soaring summer temperatures have arrived in Utah, and while it may be tempting to relax into a summer lull, it is a busy time for off-road vehicle travel planning! As the result of a 2017 settlement agreement between SUWA, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and others, the BLM is actively working on travel management plans for much of eastern and southern Utah’s remarkable public lands. Front and center: a travel plan for the San Rafael Swell that will determine where motorized vehicles are allowed to drive in the Swell for decades to come.

Take action today and Speak up for the Swell!

San Rafael Swell. © Steve Greenwood

The San Rafael Swell is a spectacular and beloved Utah landscape. It offers visitors a chance to experience colorful sunsets over towering rock spires and quiet nights underneath star-filled skies. Its winding canyons, redrock cliffs, and prominent buttes provide endless opportunities for hiking, camping, canyoneering, or simply spending time outside with family and friends. Even the names of its prominent landmarks—places like Little Grand Canyon, Temple Mountain, or Hidden Splendor—evoke the magic of this rugged landscape.

The BLM is currently accepting comments on a draft travel management plan and environmental assessment for the Swell, which analyzes the varying impacts of four different off-road vehicle travel networks. Only Alternative B complies with the BLM’s legal duties to minimize damage to natural and cultural resources and minimize conflicts between motorized and non-motorized visitors. Alternative B removes redundant routes; reduces routes that damage cultural sites, desert streams, or wildlife habitat; and minimizes the number of routes in wilderness-quality lands.

In the wake of its recent, positive Labyrinth Canyon decision, the BLM is under extraordinary pressure to expand damaging off-road vehicle routes across the Swell. Some proposals under consideration would significantly expand the number and mileage of ORV routes in the Swell, making it nearly impossible to escape the sight and sound of vehicles. As a redrock advocate, it’s critical that you get involved and make your voice heard.

The BLM is accepting public comments through July 22, 2024.

Personalized comments are often the most effective. If you have spent time in the Swell, please highlight your experience and how you were impacted by off-road vehicle use or off-road vehicle damage. If you would like assistance in writing more specific comments, email Utah Organizer Nicole Milavetz (