Rock Creek

Rock Creek is different from the other creeks that feed the Sweetwater. They are slow-moving and muddy bottomed, while Rock Creek has the appearance of a true mountain stream: swift, clear, and cold, with a rock-lined bed. William Clayton (in his Emigrant's Guide) simply refers to it as a "Branch of the Sweetwater".

It was here at the crossing of Rock Creek that the Willie handcart company camped after their grueling 18-hour march up over Rocky Ridge in the blizzard conditions of October 1856. Fifteen members of the party died that night and were buried here. A first-hand account of the ordeal can be read here. (The author, John Chislett, mistakenly identifies the spot as Willow Creek.)

Excellent histories of the Mormon handcart companies (and the efforts to save them) are found in books Rescue of the 1856 Handcart Companies by Rebecca Bartholomew and Leonard J. Arrington and The Gathering of Zion by Wallace Stegner.

Colorful lichens on a cliff at the Rock Creek crossing

Trail ruts descend to Rock Creek

MSR Maps link for this location