Onion Creek

Moab, Utah (Grand County)

Last Updated: 05/31/2021
4.8 / 5 ( 11 reviews )
Information
Nearby Trails
Status: Open
Typically Open: Year Round
Difficulty: 3-3
( MODERATE )
Length: 10.6 miles
Highest Elevation: 5769 feet
Duration: About 1 hour, 30 minutes
Shape of Trail: Connector
Best Direction to Travel: N/A
Nearest Town: Moab
Nearest Town w/ Services: Moab
Official Road Name:
Management Agency: Bureau of Land Management
District: Moab Field Office
Distance:
Showing 0 trails within 2 miles

Highlights

Highlight: Onion Creek
Slightly stinky to the nose but super pleasant on the eyes, Onion Creek is a must-do trail in the Moab area. No matter what your wheeling style is, the drive is sensory overload as you meander through several different rock formations formed hundreds of millions of years ago. The contrasts from the start of the trail to its end are simply startling.

Video

Weather

7 day forecast for Onion Creek

Route Information

Advanced Rating System

Recommended Vehicle:
Stock SUV with High Clearance and 4 Low
Concerns:
Summary:
Basic dirt road with no obstacles.

Technical Rating: 3-3
( MODERATE )

Typically, more rock or undulated road surface. Potential rocks and/or tree stumps less than 12" tall and/or vertical ledges less than 12" tall and/or near vertical ledges or waterfalls less than 24" inches. Tire placement becomes more difficult. Can be steep.
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Description

The Onion Creek Road surface is mostly compacted dirt with multiple shallow creek crossings. It is narrow in spots with no passing, and it climbs in elevation roughly 1,500' to Fisher Valley where it connects to the more difficult Rose Garden Hill and Thompson Canyon. There can be hidden washouts along the ridge that require extra attention and eyes on the road. Avoid in rain. Note: the creek crossings are frequent, but playing off the designated route and attempting to drive in the creek is strictly prohibited. This trail is suitable for any high clearance SUV when dry.
Impassable when wet.

Waypoints

1. Trailhead From Highway 128 (0 mi)
Follow the gravel road southeast.
2. Upper Onion Creek Campground (0.6 mi)
Stay straight through the campground looking directly ahead to the dirt road.
3. Scenic (1.2 mi)
Continue on the road. Views of Fisher Towers.
4. Fork - Continue Straight (1.5 mi)
Continue straight. This is the first of many creek crossings.
5. Scenic (1.8 mi)
Continue on the road. Traveling deeper in the canyon leads to more intense views and high walls comprised of reddish-brown mud and sandstone. The white residue along the side of the road and creek are salt deposits.
6. Scenic and Tight Road (2.9 mi)
Follow the well-defined road. The trail will get much more narrow in spots with blinds curves while intermittently dipping into wider wash areas. The "Totem Pole" spire comes into view. Be mindful of oncoming traffic.
7. Bridge (3.7 mi)
Continue along the road. If traffic is light, this is a good location to see where the creek is forming deep canyon walls. You gain in elevation from here on up to Fisher Valley.
8. Scenic and Widened Area (4.2 mi)
The road begins to widen with views of the upper Cutler rock formations.
9. Noticeable Rock Formation Change (5.1 mi)
Continue following the road. The landscape takes a dramatic change, with the contrasting lighter color rocks that were formed 300-million years ago. What is in view is the Onion Creek salt diapir. Over time, the heavy salt content that was formed when this area was once an ocean has slowly pushed and folded its way up through the other layers of rock. The slightly stinky smell you will encounter for the next few miles is actually sulfur which naturally forms in the area.
10. Entering The Narrows (5.8 mi)
Continue along the road. A few blind curves are present but with passing locations. The slight sulfur smell will be more present here as you shortly pass "Stinking Spring", which carries the foul-smelling sulfurous gas to the surface.
11. Scenic and Out of Narrrows (7 mi)
Follow the road.
12. Steep Narrow Climb (7.3 mi)
Drive up the 10% grade road. Be mindful of oncoming traffic as there is little room to pull over once you round the corner.
13. Start of Ridge (7.6 mi)
Follow the ridge all the way up to Fisher Valley. As you look off to the left (north) you can barely see the famous photographic posing rock from "Top of the World" jutting off the cliff side.
14. Gate - Continue Straight (8.8 mi)
Continue straight. The spur road leads to a smaller network of trails. If you were only interested in driving Onion Creek, this is a good spot to turn around. The trail technically goes for another 1.8 miles connecting to Rose Garden Hill and Thompson Canyon.
15. Fisher Valley (9 mi)
Continue straight.
16. Rose Garden Hill Trailhead (9.6 mi)
Turn left (north) to take on the challenging Rose Garden Hill or straight to connect to Thompson Canyon.
17. Trailhead From Thompson Canyon (10.6 mi)
Turn left (north) to take Thompson Canyon. The road leading right (south) goes to private property.

Directions to Trailhead

Trailhead Coordinates: 38.724007, -109.355601

Starting Point: Moab, Utah

Drive north on Highway 191 to Highway 128, turn right on Highway 128. Between mile markers 21 and 22 you will see the sign marking the Onion Creek Road and turn right.

Camping

Designated
There is no dispersed camping along this trail from Waypoints 1-14. However, there are 12 improved BLM campgrounds along Highway 128.
Camping: Onion Creek

Trail Reviews (13)

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
This was a great and easy trail to ride. I did it in my lifted tacoma without issue. My friend did it in his Subaru Outback also without issue but had to take his time through some of the creek crossings. The trial was in great shape. We saw 6-8 other trucks, 10 UTV's and 4 dirt bikes over Memorial Day Weekend.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
I had an absolute blast on this trail. I would definitely run this again as I love water crossings. I got lucky and ran in it a rain storm which was a super atmospheric experience. Definitely one of my favorites in Moab!

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Really great trail of the "beaten path" of Moab. Was not very crowded, and had great spots to pull off and do a quick hike through the canyon and stream. A couple of tight spots and a few water crossings keep it interesting but not a difficult trail, i can see how a few turns make this a moderate trail but an easy drive with some outstanding views away from the busy trails. Overall enjoyable.

Author:
Status: Temporary Closure
Offroaded on:
Tried to run the trail today but they had a road closed sign at the start of the trail. I'd imagine it temporary but it was bummer to drive all the way there to have to turn around

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Beautiful red rock and amazing canyons. There were a lot of shallow water crossings that could become obstacles in the rainy months. The canyons provide shade and cool you off for majority of the trail. We did not come across anything really difficult. We went towards the end of the day and there was only one other jeep on their way out as we headed in, so were were able to park a ways in and enjoy the creek and beautiful views. We definitely plan to come back and explore farther in, the trail seems to go on for quite a ways and connects to other trails as well.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
We did this on our way out of Moab. We only went around 3 miles since the road was very snowy and muddy in places and got worse the farther we went. Since we hadn’t done this trail before and we were by ourselves, we didn’t want to take a chance of getting into a sticky situation. What we saw was awesome and can’t wait to do it in better conditions. Love all of the creek crossings😀

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Really enjoyed this trail. Lots of shallow creek crossings and beautiful red rocks. It looked like it was graded recently so more like a 1 or 2 instead of a 3 currently.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Must do Moab trail. Drive out of town up 128 highway is breathtaking. And the trail itself extraordinary . Multiple creek crossings ( 6 inches deep) and narrow carved canyons awesome . CHECK weather any shot of rain no go! There is a 10 % grade toward end of trail . Do it . You reach the most perfect green valley ( Taylor ranch) a must see. There is a gate by a camp area and we continued on another 40 mins ) but it’s very technical and we have a rubicon . Turn back at the gate. Again must see trail.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
This was such a great trail, with all the creek crossings and the narrow canyon walls. I did this in a 4x4 Tacoma and it was just so fun and had some great views up on top.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Great trail for any level driver. We counted 30 creek crossings, most of which can be hit at pretty good speed. No real challenges to speak of. There are a lot of narrow blind corners, so keep and eye out for traffic coming in the opposite direction.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Seems the trail recently got graded but still a lot of fun to drive. And the view, spectacular

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
I took this route as a way to get from Utah to Colorado. I never smelled any onions or sulfur but perhaps that was due to the AC being on full blast. It was pretty warm out. The trail was beautiful!

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
This trail is a must do if want to see some of the best scenery around. The brown sandstone rock formations are incredible and the other formations further up the trail are so colorful it is almost otherworldly.

Questions & Answers (5)

Q: When is the best time of year to explore this very fun looking trail?
–Overlanders (01/04/2021)
A: Either late spring or mid-fall are my two favorite times.
–Todd (01/04/2021)
Q: I keep seeing not to do if it rains. What's the reason? What about when it snows?
–Kevin (01/02/2021)
A: Hi Kevin, the root of the problem is traction and mud when the trail is wet and or flash flooding in heavy rain. Many trails in the area there can become impassable when wet due to the slick nature of the mud causing traction loss (it is like grease) or you can sink pretty quickly right up to your axles if the ground is really soft from the moisture. If it has snowed, it's cold and the ground is frozen, then you would only have to worry about the loss of traction due to ice, not so much about getting stuck in the mud or slipping on the grease-like mud. If I recall, the evidence of deeper and softer mud was at the higher elevations, at Waypoint 10 and beyond. If you look at the first photo in Waypoint 10, you can see where it was wet and someone had issues with soft, slippery mud. If you venture out in the snow, be sure to have the proper recovery gear, safety/emergency supplies for several days, and ideally--don't go alone. Happy New Year!
–Todd (01/02/2021)
Q: What’s the best way to get back to the town (Moab) when you finish the trail?
–Allen Shpigel (08/20/2020)
A: You could take Thompson Canyon and take Pole Meas around meeting up with castleton road, but that would be a LONG drive. Probably would take an entire day if not a little more. I've only gone that route over the course of multiple days because there is some really good camping back there. But like Todd mentioned, you best bet is to just return the way you came. If you have a well equipped vehicle you can take a shot at Rose Garden hill even and exit back to the highway at Cisco.
–Ryan Boudreau (08/22/2020)
A: Hi Allen, as mapped here to get back to Moab this is an out and back, so returning the way you came in. It’s such a pretty trail, you will appreciate the return trip as well. :)
–Todd (08/21/2020)
Q: Seem to be no problem to drive this trail with a Ram 2500. Am i right?
–Rejean Barbeau (04/27/2018)
A: Rejean, It is a beautiful trail and while you are long it should passable for you. Be aware that around waypoint 10 would be the only area where your length could be an issue, but if I recall, the turns are still fairly wide.
–Todd (04/28/2018)
Q: Yet another trail I want to drive on. Thanks for the great narrative, photos, and video. Are there any hiking trails in the area?
–Marc Nitz (06/06/2017)
A: The most popular in the area is Fisher Towers, https://utah.com/hiking/fisher-towers-trail, which is just up the road from this trailhead on Highway 128. We did see people exploring the canyon along this road, and we wrote it down as a future "on foot" exploration to try in the future.
–Todd (06/07/2017)

Writer Information

Todd

Founder

Todd is an avid wheeler who loves to explore new trails whenever and wherever he can. They say necessity is the mother of all invention and that holds true for Todd. His want and desire to find passable trails and new nooks and crannies of the Great American West to explore were his reasons behind starting Trailsoffroad.com. On any given weekend you can find Todd on some obscure 4x4 trail or using his legs to hike to an alpine lake.
For individual use only, not to be shared.