The Amazing Waterfalls of Gunlock State Park

Gunlock State Park is located in the tiny southern Utah town of Gunlock, about 35 minutes northwest of St. George, Utah. While the Gunlock Reservoir usually has plenty of water to make all of your recreation dreams come true, the falls only exist when perfect weather conditions allow. Most days the area is just a lackluster pile of dusty sand and rocks. Several years can pass between showings of the waterfalls; but when the stars align, the heavens open, and the dam overfloweth, the waterworks begin. So grab yo kids, grab yo wife, and grab yo husband, because everyone’s gonna wanna get out here!

I was first blessed to revel in the glory of these falls yeeears ago. 2008ish maybe? I went with a group of friends, and at the time, I didn’t realize I was witnessing a rare treat. This was before the age of instant information and social media, so other than our group there were only a few others around. I was instantly in love with this place, so imagine my chagrin when I tried to visit again a few years later and found nothing but dry rocks. This is when I learned the sad truth: these falls only come out to play when the area has received a high level of snow and rain and being that it’s in the desert, the falls don’t happen all that often.

There is really no telling when these falls will bust out. Spring would be your best bet, but it all depends on how large the snowpack is, how much rain has fallen, if Ashley I. is crying again {girl, I love you, can we please be friends?}. I’ve only ever heard of these falls occurring in the spring, as most of the water is snowmelt. If the area were to receive an unusually high amount of rainfall, I supposed they could occur at other times, but due to the reservoir being used for irrigation, this is unlikely. Check the Gunlock State Park website before making the drive out to be sure the water is flowing, and if it is, don’t hesitate! Throw the family in the car and immediately head out; there is no telling how long the falls will last, so you must take advantage of the opportunity when it presents itself.

Where To Go

When the falls are flowing, you will find them on the south end of the reservoir. They are visible from the road, so once you exit the Shivwits and Paiute Indian Reservation {if you are approaching from st. george}, start keeping an eye to your left. There is a long gravel stretch perfect for parking along the road right by the falls, and it is a very short hike from your car to falls.  

There are several trails leading from the parking lot, they all funnel you into the same place, so take whichever one is closest to your car. All the trails lead you down a steep hill, but judging by how many young children and elderly folks I saw out there the other day, I believe most of you won’t have a problem navigating it.  

The most difficult part of the trail is crossing a creek on a makeshift bridge. Honestly, with how many people have been out there these past few days, I am surprised it’s still standing. If you don’t care about getting your feet wet this bridge will be no obstacle at all for you.

The main trail will lead you up the hill between large boulders and cliffs to the top of the falls, but feel free to venture off to the side to see different vantage points. These detours will require a little bit of scrambling and will be a little more difficult than following the main path.

What to Expect

The amount of water coming over the falls fluctuates, year to year, day by day. They could be roaring one day, a trickle the next. If the water is coming in hot, be careful. It is not safe to enter, you will be swept away and die, or at the very least be badly maimed. Since these falls are a rare occurrence, be prepared to enjoy them with half the population of Utah. Seriously. So.many.people. But you know what, I didn’t even mind, because it was mostly young families, and you know those kids will never forget the experience.

This is a dog-friendly excursion, so you will see puppers having their best day ever all over the place. Please only take your dog if it does well with crowds, is friendly, and keep it on a leash. I almost saw one swept away with the current, scary!

As stated earlier, there is a fee to park in the park, however, I honestly didn’t know about the fee until I started doing research for this post. So I didn’t pay, and I didn’t get caught. My bad. I’ll let you decide where you morally stand on that situation for yourself.

Most who visit the falls only do so for a couple of hours, but if you want to make a trip of it there are campground and restroom facilities nearby.

These waterfalls are a remarkable sight and are much more impressive in person than in pictures. Because of their massive size, it’s hard to capture their full beauty, you just have to see them believe them.

Have you been to the Gunlock State Park waterfalls before? Let me know in the comments, I want to know what you thought about them!

Hi! I’m Amanda, and I like long walks through the desert and hanging out with my fur child, Winky. I’ve lived in Southern Utah for 15 years and absolutely love it here. There is so much to see and explore and I love sharing all my experiences with others. If I’m not out on an adventure you’ll probably find me in the kitchen making a ridiculously elaborate meal for myself. Be sure to check out for more hikes! Hope to see you on the trail!

Entrance Fee(s)
(Be sure to check website before going) Fee: $10 per car, $5 if you are a senior. $2 for walk-ins
Helpful Tips

Where: South end of the Gunlock State Park Reservoir

When: Spring is likely to be your best bet, but no guarantees

Difficulty: Relatively easy. There are some steep hills to climb, and a little scrambling if you choose, but nothing too strenuous

More information available at Gunlock Falls


Add new comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.