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Utah: Moab, I Know a Secret Family Vacation Place - Millcreek Swimming Hole. Moab Utah Mill Creek swimming holeIt is known as the Millcreek Ssimming hole or Powerhouse Dam. The best part is that while locals know of this spot and the fun way to cool down, it’s never very crowded.

There is a one mile trail leading to a dam. Just below the dam are slippery rocks that are fun to slide over as the stream pushes along or I like to hike further up the stream, to a spot where there is a place to jump off a cliff into a deep pool. Both are lots of fun!

The first stop on a hot day is right below the dam, to swim and slip and slide.  Even though the stream pushes swimmers along, it isn’t very fast, deep, or scary.  It takes about four or five minutes to slide along.  In some places I had to push myself a little to get going, and in some spots the stream gets narrower, so the water is stronger, and pushed me over the slippery rock bottom with no effort. You would think it would hurt, but it doesn’t. 

After that, I followed the stream about another mile upstream.  Almost there, the trail gets really narrow, so we had to be in a single-file line. The other way is to hike in the water!

The cliff actually has many spots from which to jump. One is about twenty feet high, and the others are higher, maybe even a fifty foot cliff to jump off.  The water below is just deep enough so that you barely touch the sandy bottom.  Don’t be afraid of jumping off the cliffs and getting wet - once you do, it’s fun!  MOab Utah swimming hole

With the hot desert sun shining on the red rocks, it feels quite nice on sizzling summer days. Good things to bring are a bathing suit, food, water, waterproof shoes (you’ll be crossing the stream a lot), and water proof camera. Have fun!

Location on the planet. Once in Moab, continue through town, to 400E.  Turn back north on 400E, and follow to Mill Creek Drive.  Turn east on Mill Creek Drive and follow to Powerhouse Lane.  Go to the end of Powerhouse Lane, until you get to the parking lot.  From there, hike up to the dam.  It will be obvious where the swimming hole and sliding spot is.  After the dam, continue hiking up the creek.  When it splits, take the left fork, and continue to the cliffs.

Editor’s note. A special thanks goes to Bruce Risley for sharing his swimming hole discovery with us. Our family also loves the Moab area even though we have not had the pleasure of  enjoying the fun of the Millcreek swimming hole. Throughout the year we invite kids ages 10 to 18 to “Tell Mom” in their own words about a recent family vacation experience. We share the best with our readers. Bruce Risley is one of the winners in theFamilyTravelFiles.com Youth Writing Contest for the prompt “I know a secret place …”.

Planning Details and Additional Things to Do with Kids.

Discover Utah’s family adventure place. When I think of Moab I think of river rafting and secret swimming holes. It is the spot where the Colorado River and the Green River (think John Wesley Powell) provide the perfect means to share easy-paced family rafting adventures. But it is also the spot for hiking, biking, jeep safaris, and stargazing plus incredible rock formations, rock art, and dinosaur tracks. No two days need be alike and everyday will be rewarding, and Bruse has given us the location of a perfect swimming hole.

Go dinosaur hunting. What kid doesn’t like dinosaurs? A quick easy jaunt out of town, Potash Road Dinosaur tracks can be viewed not far from the roadside (Potash Road Scenic Byway, State Highway 279). While the tracks are visible from the road, and a spotting scope is available it makes more sense to hike the 200 yards to the rock clusters. Plus, ancient and contemporary petroglyphs may be seen in the same area. Bonus points: Climb-Utah.com offers parents a free “Dinosaur Hunting License” for children to support the adventure and they have posted impressive images of the dino tracks as well as petroglyphs. (www.climb-utah.com/Moab/moabdino.htm)

Spot fossils and petrified wood. The 1/2-mile nature trail at Spot Mill Canyon-Copper Ridge leads to dinosaur fossils and petrified wood. may be seen in a natural setting. The trailhead is in Mill Canyon on a dirt road, accessible off U.S. Highway 191, 13 miles north of Moab, Utah (near mile marker 141). (For a brochure and map, contact the Moab BLM Field Office 82 East Dogwood Moab, Utah 84532 (435) 259-2100 or www.utah.com/playgrounds/mill_canyon.htm)

Meander along Mill Creek Parkway. Mill Creek connects just about everything worth doing with kids. This is a remarkable community treasure meant to be shared. Weaving through the town of Moab toward the Colorado River, Mill Creek defines a shady, soft adventure pathway stroller trekking, bicycles, walking, jogging, and rollerblading. Whimsical tree sculptures dot the way – perfect for photo ops and along the route antique mining and farming artifacts from the Dan O'Laurie Museum provide a sense of time and place (www.moab-utah.com/danolaurie/museum.html).  Bonus points: For tykes a stop at the small farm to meet curious goats and noncommittal sheep is a must. 

Remember the legend of Dead Horse Point? Dead Horse Point State Park offers plenty of stories to peak young imaginations. The name alone is sobering and the story well it’s best to hear it from a local.  In addition to the popular Intrepid Trail, there are several hiking routes along the rim plus more than 10 miles of paved and primitive hiking trails.  The park offers informative family programs throughout the year. Bonus points:  There is also a Junior Ranger program created to engage children ages six to 12 years of age. (Dead Horse Point State Park Moab, UT 84532-0609. (435) 259-2614 or  http://stateparks.utah.gov/parks/dead-horse)

Stop at Moab Information Center.  Located at Main & Center Street Moab, UT 84532 or go to www.discovermoab.com
Need to know: The Moab Information Center features an informative series of lectures relating to southeastern Utah.
For more information visit go to  www.cnha.org/mic.cfm

Observations and images provided by Bruce Risley, theFamilyTravelFiles.com youth writing contest winner. Additional comments and planning details by Nancy Nelson-Duac, Founder & Editor FTF. Copyright 2012.
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