Moab is a popular hiking spot for those visiting any one of Utah's greatest natural wonders, such as the Canyonlands or Dead Horse State Park. With that being said, hiking through Moab's desert environment is often tough on the body especially during the peak of summer. While many hikers opt to hike during spring and fall to avoid hot temperatures, others soothe their achy muscles with a dip in one of Moab's best swimming holes: Mill Creek.

There are multiple points along the Mill Creek Canyon Trail where hikers can take a dip in the waters of the spring, and waterfall, that run along it. The hike itself it not overly strenuous but those who wish to make it even shorter will only need to follow it for five minutes before reaching an oasis.


What To Know About Swimming In Moab's Mill Creek

For centuries, creeks have been places of reprieve when it comes to hot desert-like landscapes. They're small bodies of water that are usually part of a stream or a waterfall system, but flow at a gentler rate, making them perfect for taking a casual dip on a warm day. While not every desert will provide hikers with easy access to a creek or stream, Mill Creek Canyon is a variable oasis in Moab. And the best part? It's not that far from downtown Moab, so those staying in the city won't have far to go to experience the beauty of the nature that surrounds them.

Directions To Mill Creek Canyon & Falls By Car

Since Mill Creek is easily accessible, starting from downtown Moab is a good place to start. From Center and Main streets, visitors can head south along South Main Street before finding East 100 Street. After about half a mile (four blocks), visitors will be able to find Mill Creek Drive. Then, follow this for just over another mile before turning on Powerhouse Lane. At the end of this road, hikers will find the Mill Creek Trailhead.

Related: This Moab Hiking Trail Is Tough Enough To Test Your Mettle

Taking The Long Hike Through Mill Creek Canyon To The Creek & Falls

Hiking through Mill Creek Canyon is a rewarding experience in more ways than one. Hikers have the chance to see all kinds of features outside of its swimming hole, including ancient rock art and unique sandstone formations among the canyon walls. Luckily, the hike is not a long one and hovers just under two miles long. AllTrails describes the north fork trail (Mill Creek Canyon trail) as moderate but the average hiker might find it easier than that due to its short distance. For those who decide to hike up and above the falls, the trails get noticeable steeper and more difficult.

The trail itself is an out-and-back trail, which takes less than one hour to complete in its entirety. The 'moderate' features of this trail include some interesting shimmies in order to navigate the trail closest to the creek, which is doable as long as hikers wear footwear with good traction and pace themselves. After roughly a quarter of a mile, hikers will find a small waterfall which is the start of a variance in the trail; hiekrs should make their way along the narrow rock ledge to find a wider shelf, or simply just wade through the creek itself. After this, the path widens and the trail gets substantially easier.

Another half a mile will lead hikers to petroglyphs that can be found along the walls of Mill Creek Canyon. This is one of the trail's most notable historic features, and hikers can scope out some of its most prolific rock art.

  • Tip: Bring binoculars or a camera with a high-powered zoom to observe rock art that sits at a higher elevation.

From this point, the trail is well-traveled as Mill Creek is a popular swimming hole for those hiking the canyon. This is where hikers will find the larger, and most picturesque waterfall in Mill Creek. It's also where they'll finally come to the Mill Creek swimming hole, which will inevitably be a place for social gatherings on hot summer days! However, hikers can continue even further along the trail to find an even larger swimming pool at the 1.5-mile mark, which is a great spot for those to take a dip after hiking the entirety of the Mill Creek Canyon (north fork) trail. Along the way, the trail will be filled with even more pictoglyphs and rock art, which makes for a fascinating journey as hikers seek out the final oasis on this trail.

  • Note: Hikers should avoid touching all rock art so as to not disturb the fragile nature of the rock face. Additionally, nothing should be added or drawn around pictoglyphs - leave these the way that they were found!

No matter how long one is staying in Moab, this oasis of a swimming pool, and scenic canyon hiker, are well worth the time.

Next: Canyonlands: Essential Guide For Extreme Biking In 'The Maze'