San Rafael Knob wouldn’t be on my radar had it not been for the Utah 2,000+ Prominence List where it comes in last at 84. The knob is a long way from anything but its easy access of I-70 made it a breeze to climb on the way home after climbing a peak in the Henry Mountains that morning. It made for a good climb when the clouds were covering all the higher peaks in the mountain ranges. Due to the approach, it does take awhile to climb but the elevation gain and trail/road makes it easy, more like a hike than a climb.
San Rafael Knob
Distance: 4 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,300 feet
Summit Elevation: 7,921 feet
Access rating: Level 2 or 4 depending on start
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From the obstacle, follow the road down to a wash and hairpin turn. The road crosses over the wash of Devils Canyon and continues south. Follow the road for a bit longer until you come across a second wash. Here, there is a road split although the left fork may just look like the wash. Go left up the drainage (chances are there are tracks but I missed them and had to backtrack). Going up this drainage for 5 minutes or so, you reach another road split/wash split. Again, the wash on the left is the road. Go left (the right fork cuts left as well in a short distance up and you should see it above you after you take the left). You’re now on the final road to the knob. It will stay in the drainage for awhile before climbing onto a broad flat ridge for most of the route. If you do drive this far, conditions could change drastically here. The hike along the ridge is long and boring but the going is easy. As you get closer to the knob several side roads break off. Always follow the road heading toward the knob. You do see the knob most of the route and it looks a long, long ways away. There is another road split just before the NW ridge (see map), go left. As you get below the north face of the knob, look up at the north face near the top. The trail/route traverses below the highest rock face very high on the knob. There is a trail up the NW ridgeline. The road will take you to the east side of the NW ridge where you’ll need to scramble up to the ridge and eventually find a trail as the ridge narrows. If you hit the hairpin turn on the north side of the mountain, you’ve gone too far. The climbers trail is easy and makes quick work of the climb. There is one crux. A slab of rock must be traversed with only minor ledges for foot holds. An error here would have no forgiveness. Only the first 3 or 4 steps are really tricky. I was wearing plastic boots and only felt comfortable once I took my boot shells off to the liner. I also pulled out a 50 foot rope and tied it to a tiny tree…just in case I slipped. Once across, the route/trail works around the east side of the mountain then up the final 100 feet on slabby rock.
Find your way to I-70 between Salina and Green River. Take exit 116, get on the south side of the freeway and head east. Within a mile or so you should see a large parking area on the left, probably full of empty ATV trailers attached to trucks. This is the start if you don’t have 4WD or you want to take the cross country route. For the road route option, continue on to a fork where a sign points right for Copper Globe Road and Devils Canyon. Follow this route until the obstacle marked on the map at a big rock drop. A lot of vehicles were going over it but I didn’t like it and parked.
Walking the road just south of the Devils Canyon wash area
Yellow line shows how high the traverse is on the mountain. Picture is taken well east beyond the NW ridge
Looking south to the Henry Mountains
The final 100 feet (class 2 only)
On the NW ridge, still climbing up to the base of summit cliffs
In route, it is starting to get closer
This is how far away it is with road approach!
Six hikers on the summit