Emery County is home to some of the most awe-inspiring rock formations in the world, and Green River is the gateway to them all.
HOW, WHY, WHERE?
If you’ve been to Moab, you can get to Green River. Exit I-15 at US-6 and head toward Price/Manti. Keep on US-6 for about 120 miles and then exit to I-70, which will lead you straight there.
Why Go Now
Early fall’s cooler weather makes it the perfect time to visit the dry desert, where temps push triple digits in the summer. It’s also a good chance to take advantage of local celebrations like the peach and watermelon harvests.
Where to Stay
On the banks of the Green River sits River Terrace Inn. Take your pick of a room with a view of the river, one with a private balcony or one with easy access to the pool. (1740 E. Main St., Green River, river-terrace.com) Feeling extra outdoorsy? Camp out in a yurt in the middle of Goblin Valley State Park. Call 800-322-3770 for reservations.
YOUR THREE-DAY TRIP
Day One: For the Melons
Mingle with the locals and slurp a slice of famous Green River watermelon at Melon Days, Sept. 14 and 15, (melon-days.com). The event kicks off with a parade and includes activities like fishing contests, mud races and rodeos. It’s not uncommon for this event to draw a crowd that triples the city’s population, so make your reservations in advance. If you’re hoping to see the rocks from a raft, start on day one and plan on spending your entire three-day getaway floating down the 68-mile stretch of river from Green River to Mineral Bottom by way of Labyrinth Canyon.
Day Two: Tap the Canyons
Just 15 miles west of Green River lies the San Rafael Swell, cut in half by I-70. The northern half is scattered with canyons like Buckhorn Wash, Saddle Horse and Black Dragon, which can all be accessed by car, and the southern half is dotted with peaks and canyons that are equally as impressive (sanrafaelswell.org). Travel a little farther to Capitol Reef for a short hike to Hickman Bridgeor a 90-minute drive around the rocks. Here you can also see petroglyphs and a historic home stead (nps.gov/care).
Day Three: Take a Hike
Pack up your hiking gear and head south. In roughly two hours by car, you’ll be in Moab, the home of Canyonlands and Arches National Parks. These spectacular rocky areas are best seen on foot. See the famous Delicate Arch, star of the Utah license plate, and other breathtaking formations, just past an hour outside Green River. The Island in the Sky section of Canyonlands offers a variety of different options for hiking. discovermoab.com
STAY ANOTHER DAY
Fit in an early morning round of 18 at the Green River State Park Golf Course, which flanks the Green River and overlooks majestic surrounding rock peaks. Then, take a half-day rafting trip on the Green River Daily, and see an 8-mile stretch of the Green River. Family outings are an option for day trips like these, and children as young as five are allowed to participate.
The 1999 movie Galaxy Quest starring Tim Allen was filmed at Goblin Valley State Park because of the landscape's out-of-this-world rock formations.