Onion Creek

Rating: 
One-way Distance: 8.8 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
MTB Skill level:
Elevation: 4235 - 5645 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 1 hr. 30 mins.
Trailhead: Onion Creek
Fee: none
Attractions: Scenic geology




Onion Creek is located off of Highway 128 about 21 miles north of Moab, Utah. This post follows the Onion Creek Road, aka the Rose Garden Hill Safari Route, as it travels through a narrow valley from Highway 128 to Fisher Valley. The strange geology of Onion Creek has created a mix of colorful and contrasting rock formations that treat visitors to a scenic experience.


This post begins in Fisher Valley, at the Kokopelli Trail, and follows Onion Creek in the downhill direction for 8.8 miles to the trailhead near the Onion Creek Campground.


As the route heads west it gradually gains about 20-30 feet of elevation. After about 3/4 of a mile that changes and the downhill run begins.


A hogback ridge forms a ribbon of red dirt for the route to follow.


A salt diapir of the Paradox Formation has come up between the surrounding Cutler Formation that makes up the reddish brown cliffs. The various colors of the intrusive Paradox in contrast with the already scenic hoodoos, spires and cliffs of the Cutler make for a delightful spectacle while traveling through the canyon.


The upper part of the canyon has a bit of a sulphur odor that we are speculating might be the source of the name Onion Creek.


The road crosses Onion Creek what seems like more than 20 times. Even though the creek is very shallow we had to come almost to a complete stop at each crossing to keep from splashing water on the camera equipment. If it weren't for that a person on a mountain bike could probably get all the way down the canyon in about 30 minutes. While most of the vehicles that we saw in the area were jeeps and such we did see one 2-wheel drive passenger car that had made it all the way up the creek.


At one point there is a low spot in the ridge over which you can see Titan Tower in the Fisher Towers area poking up into the skyline.


As the route continues through the canyon the Paradox intrusion disappears and the steep cliffs of the Cutler Formation come together to create a stretch called 'The Narrows'.


There are several tall monoliths and numerous hoodoos that rise up to decorate the landscape. The tall spire in this photo is known as 'Totem Pole'.


The cliffs get shorter and the valley widens out as the mouth of the canyon approaches.


A large staging area comes up about 3/4 of a mile from Highway 128. Onion Creek is popular with all kinds of jeep and OHV enthusiast that typically load and unload here. Across the road from the staging area is the Onion Creek Campground where there is an outdoor privy. Each site has a picnic table and fire ring. Several of the sights can accommodate RV's and trailers. The current fee for a spot is $15/night on a first come basis. We rode our mountain bikes down Onion Creek after having ridden the Kokopelli Trail to that point from Loma, Colorado. There were several others doing the same since it was the middle of March and there was still snow on the La Sal Mountains section of the Kokopelli Trail. The lower part of Onion Creek is popular with day hikers although they never seem to venture beyond 'The Narrows'. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is grab your bike or favorite OHV toy or 'Take a hike'.