Green River Scenic Drive
A sandy beach, a mighty river, sandstone buttes, campsites and petroglyphs, all on one short road.
The perfect place to cool off after a long hike, or bring lunch and make a day of it.
Many good sandy beaches beside the Green and Colorado rivers are only accessible to river runners or backpackers. But here, close to the verdant small town of Green River (‘Melon capitol of the USA’), and just off I-40, is a paved road that takes you right to the beach. From there a bumpy dirt road follows the twisting banks of the river before dead-ending. It’s all very scenic.
If you’re travelling from the west, exit I-40 and drive east through the town until you cross the river. Take an immediate left on a small paved road heading north that follows the east bank of the river. You’ll drive past hundreds of acres of green fields that contrast with the deep red rock landscape behind them. You’ll soon arrive at a large parking lot, right next to the beach. There are tables and grills under the trees. This is a popular place at weekends but at other times it’s usually quiet and you may have the whole place to yourself. The river here is quite shallow but runs fast as you approach the center so do keep an eye out if you bring young children – they’ll love it here. Occasionally you may see river runners rafting past over some small rapids. The view across the river is dramatic: a huge pyramid-shaped butte.
If time allows, continue on the high clearance dirt road which hugs the contours of the river all the way to Nefertiti Rapids. That’s a 9 mile one-way drive from the highway in Green River. It’s not technically challenging but very few people drive this section. Look out for rock art on the cliff face as you pass.
This is a good half day trip that makes a nice break from hiking.