Gunlock Falls

In the dry desert climate there is often an ebb and flow to its water levels. Some waterfalls in the desert will disappear for years. When conditions are just right, Gunlock Falls in Gunlock State Park decorate the red cliffs with cascades of refreshing water. After a snowy winter, the Gunlock reservoir will overflow and spill out into the falls. When the water level is high enough, the falls can be found at the south end of the reservoir and are visible from the road. Since the falls are not constant, we have to take advantage of them when we can.

How do we know when the falls are flowing? The best time to catch them is springtime following winter snow. The wetter the winter, the greater chance there is to see the falls. Gunlock State Park has a website that indicates when the falls are active. The park, located near Saint George, Utah, can get crowded as people (and their pups) of all ages flock to see the spectacular site. This makes it imperative to be respectful to others and pack out all that is packed in. The falls are a very short hike from the gravel parking lot, though when traversing wet rock it can get slippery. The lot is right off the road and accessible by any passenger vehicle. There are outhouses nearby as well as campgrounds if you are looking to wake up at dawn to beat the crowds.

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Sunrise is the best time to capture stunning photographs of the falls before the rocks are packed with people. For those that prefer to stay dry and enjoy the falls from afar, there are many sections along the road or from the parking area where they can be viewed. For the more adventurous folk, jumping and swimming in the water is a popular activity. Typically the water is quite brisk so bring plenty of towels and dry clothing to change into. Saint George’s springtime temperatures can climb into the 70s and high 80s, so a dip is often refreshing. Please do not try to dive as the water is not deep enough.

The refreshing blue water rushing over the rich red rock may be a rare occurrence, but this only makes it even more special. Taking advantage of the desert’s diversity allows us to really experience all that the area has to offer. There is nothing quite like spending an afternoon swimming and sunbathing in sparkling pools of water, surrounded by the deep colors of the Southern Utah landscape. If you are lucky enough to have the opportunity to see Gunlock Falls, jump on it before it is gone!

Written by Lauren Kehoe