Enjoy Year Round Water Sports in Southern Utah
It may seem strange to talk about water sports in a city like St. George, Utah, considering we are in the desert, but we are blessed with two reservoirs and the Virgin River that all offer water sports.
Quail Creek and Sand Hollow reservoirs offer year round opportunities for all sorts of water sports. The Virgin River offers fishing year round, and some great white water kayaking during the spring runoff from April to mid-May.
Quail Creek Reservoir has depths up to 120 feet, so even in the summer its depths remain cold enough to sustain the stocked rainbow trout, bullhead catfish, and crappie. In the warmer, upper layers of the water, you can find largemouth bass, and bluegill.
Even when it’s too cold to enjoy more northern lakes, you can still have fun with your favorite water activities in the mild winter climate in St. George.
Entrance to Quail Creek Park is affordable at $10 per vehicle with up to 8 people, Seniors 62 and older are only $4 per vehicle with up to 8 people. Camping is available at the main campground for $15 per night with a limit of two vehicles per site. You can also include an extra vehicle for an additional $12/per night.
Sand Hollow Reservoir offers a stunning red sandstone desert landscape. In addition to boating and water activities, Sand Hollow is in the midst of sand dunes ideal for exploring on an off-highway vehicle. The Beach At Sand Hollow (BASH), located at the south end of the park, rents ATV’s, UTV’s, kayaks, paddleboards and more.
Combine a stand up paddleboard and a 90-minute yoga class with a certified Stand Up Paddle Yoga instructor in a safe and supportive environment at Sand Hollow. Check Dig Paddle Sports for dates.
Day use fees at Sand Hollow are $10 per vehicle up to 8 people, and seniors 62 and over are $5 per vehicle up to eight people. There are three camping areas that range from $15 for the primitive camp with no facilities, to the Westside Campground with full hook ups for $28 a night.
If you are searching for some below the water excitement rather than above the water at either Sand Hollow or Quail Creek, click onto Dixie Divers, or Access Scuba for their next dive date. Both offer local dives, tank refills, dive instruction and certification, and equipment rentals.
Another option for lake and off-road rentals is the Southern Utah Adventure Center. They rent ATVs, UTVs, Boats, Jet Skis, Jeeps, Dirt Bikes, and Kayaks. If you are not familiar with southern Utah an
d not certain where to go, the Center also specialize in ATV/UTV and Jeep Tours.
During spring run-off, generally mid-April to late May, the Virgin River offers whitewater kayaking. You can enjoy unmatched stunning vertical views of the Virgin River Gorge from the river. The Virgin River’s water level depends on the runoff of the annual snowpack from the surrounding mountains, and spring runoff is the only time the Virgin is raftable. The river flow can be sporadic, so before you plan a trip, check water flow and levels at the American Whitewater website or the U.S. Geologic Survey site.
You can also kayak inside Zion National Park during certain times of year. From the National Park Service website, “Kayak trips through The Narrows (in Zion National Park) should only be attempted by expert paddlers who are prepared to survive without assistance for multiple days. You should possess the skills to paddle class V Whitewater. At some flows, the rapids may qualify for an easier classification.”
If you want to kayak the Narrows, you will need to obtain a permit the day before you plan to go, and you will need to get an early start to get through in one day.
St. George may be in the desert, but Sand Hollow, Quail Creek, and the Virgin River all offer great water sports opportunities. With local shops, it’s up to you whether you bring your own equipment, or want to travel light and rent your choice of equipment once you get here.
Written by: Jon Thompson