Green River: Your Epicenter for Epic Adventures

Oct 2, 2020
By: Melinda Rhodes

Wave “buh-bye” to jet lag and flight shaming by taking a quick vacation to this ruggedly beautiful backyard destination.

Flight shaming? Yeah, it’s a thing. (Just ask Joaquin Phoenix. He seems to have a strong opinion on the subject.) Airlines are taking measures to become carbon neutral, but in the meantime, microcations are also a thing. Instead of taking an expensive, long-haul flight to a remote destination, look a little closer to home for your next vacay.

Utah has plenty of places as amazing and exciting as those a world away. And you don’t have to take two weeks off of work.

Where to Go and What to Do

Enter Green River. Located 182 miles southeast of Salt Lake City and 123 miles west of Richfield, it might seem like this city is merely a pitstop on I-70. The middle of nowhere. But that’s a glass-half-empty POV. It’s actually in the middle of EVERYWHERE, surrounded by the San Rafael Swell and some of Utah’s MVPs (most visited parks). Arches. Canyonlands. Capitol Reef. Dead Horse Point. Goblin Valley.

If it’s solitude you seek, there are countless quiet corners in the area where you can escape the everyday. Go kayaking in Green River State Park. Cast your line and see what’s biting — excellent fly fishing can be found practically anywhere along the banks of the park’s namesake tributary.

Water not your thing? Drive down a remote dirt road so bumpy it’ll knock the hiccups right out of you. Near Bowknot Bend you’ll find the Colonnade Arch trailhead. This is an easy 1.2-miler best hiked in the morning.

Pro tip: Look around to see unmapped arches in the area.

Black Dragon Canyon is another favorite site. Take a short timeout while wheelin’ around the area to stretch your legs. Walk on the old jeep trail and look at the ancient rock art. Nearby Buckhorn Wash has a pictograph panel and scenic sandstone formations as well. And it’s only a few minutes from the 160-foot-long San Rafael Swinging Bridge which many consider a modern work of art.

Other things to do in Green River, Utah, include navigating the narrow slot canyons in the old outlaw hideout known as Robbers Roost and looking at the exhibits found in the John Wesley Powell River History Museum. And don’t forget the melons. The climate here is perfect for growing the best watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, lambkin, and canary in the state. Produce stands are overflowing from mid-July to mid-September.

You can also find a roadside attraction flaunting the largest watermelon in Green River.

Places to Stay

The best adventures begin with a basecamp. Kathmandu? No can do. That requires a plane ride and the aforementioned flight shaming, hiring a sherpa, and following the fluttering prayer flags to a tent city where you have to don more layers than a Photoshop file to stay warm. Instead, let the freeway signs guide you to Green River and get a spacious hotel room with amenities aplenty at the River Terrace Inn. This place is plush.

Fall asleep listening to water rolling over rocks and wake up well-rested in your warm bed with your head on a feather pillow. Enjoy a complimentary hot breakfast — including omelets made to order! — before heading out for a day of exploring. When you return, soak in the outdoor spa.

If y’all don’t need the frills and would rather keep a few more dolla dolla bills, look for the retro neon sign along Main Street and check into the Sleepy Hollow Motel. Don’t worry: It isn’t managed by Ichabod Crane. Both the Sleepy Hollow Motel and the River Terrace Inn were originally built and run by Betsy and Vail Hatt. More than 60 years later, the two properties are still independently owned and operated by their grandson. And wouldn’t you rather support a local business than give more money to yet another chain?

We thought so. Book a room at one of these Green River hotels and sing your own unchained melody.

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