South of Hanksville, Utah and under the remote shadows of Henry Mountains lies McMillan Spring Campground, managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The campground is located right between Canyonlands National Park and Capitol Reef National Park and is a highly sought after camping destination for buccaneers seeking adventure and solitude.
While small in size, the campground is surrounded by vast expanses of remote wildlands that offer tons of recreational opportunities to visitors. Whether you are here to catch sight of the second largest herd of free-roaming American Bison, climb one of the many tall peaks, or simply coast along the Bull Creek Pass National Backcountry Byway, camping at the McMillan Spring Campground is your best bet.
In 1872, Henry Mountains was reported to be the last mountain range that was included in the map of 48 states. Despite its addition, this region still received very few visitors and subsequently became a remote wilderness region and a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and lone adventurers seeking privacy and solitude.
The topography of McMillan Spring Campground and the area surrounding it is enthralling. In addition to the rugged peaks and green lands, the area is home to rock layers that tilt dramatically. The famous and rare Pink Cliffs and the awe-inspiring WaterPocket Fold are also found in this part of Utah.
McMillan Springs Campground is located 31 miles south of Hanksville, Utah and just 15 miles east of Notom Road and Sandy Ranch Junction on the Bull Creek Pass Backcountry Byway.
From Hanksville, the majority of the drive is on the Highway-95. However, once you turn for McMillan Springs Campground, dirt roads begin and the ground starts to gain elevation. Until mid-June, Bull Creek Pass Route remains impassable due to snow drifts so it is advised to avoid it. The best way to make this high steep ride is via a four-wheel-drive vehicle with high clearance.
This is a remote area of Utah, and internet and phone connections cannot be relied upon. Print out maps before making this trip. For best planning, make sure to contact the BLM office at Hanksville and get the current road conditions and the best routes to take.
McMillan Spring Campground, situated at 8,400 feet, is maintained by the Bureau of Land Management and boasts a total of nine developed campsites. The campground provides visitors with drinking water and two outhouse vault toilets. Even though drinking water is available at the campground, it is advised to bring plenty of your own, since the area is dry and remote. The campground is ADA accessible.
Each campsite comes with a picnic table and fire grill and pets are welcome to stay with their owners as long as they are behaved and leashed. Sites are provided on a first-come, first-served basis. Campsites are also made to accommodate equestrians with horses and include corrals, livestock water, and troughs.
There are numerous short hikes around the McMillan Spring Campground. Most of these hikes lead towards the mountain ridges. There are also various short nature trails around the campground, as well as more challenging day hikes. Most of these trails are not marked, yet the worn paths clearly indicate their presence.
The area is remote, and if you are on a hike, it’s likely you won’t see another soul on the trail, which is why it is smarter to inform BLM personnel of your destinations and plans and the length of your visit in case there is an emergency. This Utah district is dry and rugged, so make sure to carry plenty of water with you.
Purebred Bison are found in the McMillan Spring Campground and approximately 44 permits are issued every year to hunt bison around the Henry Mountains area by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.
Game birds around McMillan Springs Campground include chukar, dove, quail, pheasant, blue grouse, occasional waterfowl, snipe, and band-tailed pigeons. Small birds are also hunted in the area and the most commonly hunted species include kestrels, pinyon jays, ravens, Clark’s nutcracker, stellar jays, towhees, desert horned lark, and chickadees.
A good portion of land around the Henry Mountains is open to off-road vehicles. However, it is advised to stick to existing roads and trails due to the steep mountains, canyons, and cliffs in the area. It is also important to take precautions when riding off-road for both your own safety, as well as the safety of wildlife and vegetation.
McMillan Springs Campground is situated on land that has more wildlife than humans. Sightings of American Bison are common and are the main wildlife attraction in these parts. These bison were actually planted here in 1941, from Yellowstone National Park.
Other wildlife here includes rattlesnakes, small rodents, mule deer, antelope, cottontail, and jackrabbits amongst many others. Numerous reptiles can be spotted here as well in the lower desert area.
Less than seven miles from McMillan Springs Campground is the trailhead for the Mount Ellen Climb − the tallest peak of the Henry Mountains and an Ultra-Prominent Utah peak. The views from above are majestic and breathtaking. The climb follows a challenging six-mile out and back trail. The trail is moderate and lightly trafficked. Pets can accompany you on this trip.
There are many sights worth seeing within the Henry Mountains, near the McMillan Spring Campground.Watch American Bison grazing among a backdrop of mountains and forests. As you drive along, you are greeted with stunning views of nature and glorious sunsets.
Take any of the highways or roads in the area to get a closer look at this remote and outlandish landscape. Most of these scenic routes are dirt or gravel roads so gather information prior to visiting. Some famous scenic passages include the Bull Creek Pass, Stanton Pass, and Pennellen Pass.