Gunlock Reservoir overflow

In recent months the tourist traffic to Gunlock Reservoir has increased, thanks to the water overflowing from the reservoir and down the red rocks.

Waterfalls at Gunlock Reservoir
Gunlock Reservoir waterfalls are seldom seen and gorgeous to behold.

Gunlock Reservoir | About the area

Located in the gorgeous red rock landscape of Southern Utah, Gunlock Reservoir has much to offer. Although its size doesn’t compete with nearby larger reservoirs including Lake Powell, Sand Hollow or even Quail Lake, there is plenty to do at Gunlock Reservoir.

Tourists and locals alike are drawn to its shores in search of boating, fishing and other water sports.

Gunlock Reservoir dam
Gunlock Reservoir is a perfect little spot for boating, fishing and other recreation.

Located on Gunlock Road just 15 miles northwest of St. George, Utah, Gunlock Reservoir is conveniently located yet just out of the way enough to make it feel like an adventure. Thanks to the mild Southern Utah Climate, Gunlock Reservoir is a year-round destination.

Originally constructed in 1970 for irrigation water and flood control, the reservoir was opened to the public in 1970 as a state park. You can enjoy all it has to offer from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. The boat ramp is open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

Gunlock Reservoir overflow

The reservoir’s location typically means any concern about water levels center around whether or not the water is getting too low. This year, however, significant winter and spring moisture has led to an abundance of water in the reservoir. So much, in fact, it is spilling over the dam, adding yet another reason for people to flock to this state park.

Extra water at Gunlock Reservoir
Crowds gather to witness the unusual desert sight: excess water

These waterfalls are dry much of the year. But now the silvery ribbons of excess water spilling over these red rock ledges make an impressive sight to behold.

Thanks to word of mouth spreading on social media, so many people have flocked to the Gunlock Reservoir to witness the overflow, you are certain to run into crowds when you go.

Since the waterfalls are likely to only last a couple of weeks — unless there is another rainstorm — if you want to catch a glimpse, you better hurry and go.

Family outing to Gunlock Reservoir

A recent family outing to Gunlock Reservoir was well worth the drive and the hike. While it may seem strange to people living in more wet climates, to the desert rats of Southern Utah, seeing water fall over these typically dry rocks is just beautiful! And unusual.

Visitors to the reservoir are allowed to hike up to the water falls. Walk-ins are asked to pay $2 per person entering this state park. If you’re driving, the cost is $10 per car or $5 for senior drivers.

Waterfalls at Gunlock
Water moves quickly over the red rocks at Gunlock Reservoir overflow

Safety is key

Safety is key in this setting. Particularly since the waterfalls are uncommon, it is not certain which path the water will choose to follow. Utah State Parks issued a warning to visitors to be careful around the ledges and the flows. The water rushing past is doing so at a strong and rapid rate. Certainly if someone were to fall into the falls it could be disastrous.

The good news is, it’s pretty easy to stay in the safe zone and still see the falls.

The hike to the falls

If you hike from the bottom up to the dam at the top of the falls, be prepared to cross a small stream at the base. Wood logs and boards have been placed to make it possible to cross without getting your feet wet. However, since this is not an officially constructed bridge, you must exercise caution when crossing. Keeping your balance can be tricky.

Once you cross the stream it’s just a matter of following the trail — or lately, the crowds — toward the water overflow. You can zigzag in and out of the rocks, coming out on several great lookout points. So many photography options wait. The contrast between white water, red rocks and blue sky makes for some gorgeous photos.

Once you reach the top, you can see the actual Gunlock Reservoir and dam. Some people opted to make their way across the dam, through the water as it flowed over the top. The walk across appeared slippery and was reportedly rather cold. Plus, it naturally has the danger of falling into the water so keep that in mind should you have a fancy to try. But such a trek is not necessary to enjoy all the views of the Gunlock Reservoir overflow.

Clouds above Gunlock
Clouds make for an even more dramatic view of the area.

Living near the Gunlock Reservoir overflow

Who knows when so much water will spill over the Gunlock dam in future. Thankfully, you don’t need the overflow to make this a location worth visiting. But taking time to enjoy it when this overflow occurs is well worth it.

Would you like to live near this beautiful sight? There are great home listings in the areas surrounding Gunlock Reservoir. Check them out here.