Virgin River Canyon Recreation Area

Overview

The Virgin River Canyon Recreation Area is located along Interstate 15 approximately 20 miles southwest of St. George, Utah and approximately 20 miles northeast of Mesquite, Nevada. It's accessed from the Cedar Pocket Exit (mile post 18). The overnight-use fee is $8 per site per night and the day-use fee is $2 per vehicle. Overnight use is limited to a 14-night stays. The recreation area currently has 25 of the best sites only available through recreation.gov reservations. The remaining 83 sites are first come, first serve (FF) payable by using the Scan and Pay feature on the recreation.gov app. 

The cash payment option has been removed. Please come prepared by either making a reservation here before arrival OR having the recreation.gov app installed with login setup to pay onsite with the scan and pay option. 

Recreation

The Virgin River Canyon Recreation Area provides many recreational opportunities for hiking, wildlife viewing, water play, and more. It is surrounded by two designated wilderness areas. The Paiute Wilderness east of Interstate 15, and Beaver Dam Mountains Wilderness to the west. The Sullivan Canyon Trail starts within the recreation area and heads into the heart of the Paiute Willderness. 

The campground and day-use areas also both have scenic trails leading to the Virgin River. The Virgin River is occassionally runable to small whitewater boats during spring runoffs. Please check for information on the fish barriers and flow conditions prior to running.

Additional opportunities for recreation are available outside of the recreation area. A short drive on the Cedar Pocket Road (directly across the interstate from the campground) leads to the Cedar Pocket Wash Trailhead. This trail leads down a steep path to the narrows of the Cedar Pocket Wash and is a nice short stroll through a Joshua Tree forest. 

The Virgin River Gorge is also frequented by rock climbers and canyoneers. Additional information about recreation available in the area can be obtained by calling the visitor center at 435-688-3200.

Facilities

Campsite Amenities (74 overnight sites) - 14 night stay limit

  • Paved access road
  • Pull-through parking
  • Drinking water
  • Flush toilets (ADA compliant at middle restroom)
  • Self-pay register boxes
  • Occasional campground host
  • Picnic table
  • Grill and/or fire pit
  • Vehicle or RV parking
  • 4 sites that are ADA compliant
  • 5 sites with shade shelters

** The campground has no electrical or waste dump hook ups. **

 

Day-Use Amenities (37 sites) - Single night stay only

  • Paved access road
  • Pull-through parking
  • Drinking water
  • Flush toilets
  • Self-pay register boxes
  • Occassional campground host
  • 7 shade shelters
  • 4 sites that are ADA compliant
  • Access to Sullivan Canyon Trail in the Paiute Wilderness
  • Access to interpretative trail
  • Trail access to the Virgin River

Natural Features

The Virgin River Gorge, where the Virgin River Canyon Recreation Area resides, was cut by the Virgin River. Though the Virgin River is relatively small, it is incredibly steep, dropping an average of 70 feet per mile - 10 times steeper than the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. This steepness, caused by the uplift of the Colorado Plateau, has given the Virgin River the ability to cut through sandstone and limestone canyons.  

The gorge provides a stunning and colorful mountain desert setting. The gorge mimics, on a smaller scale, the colorful layers and striking depths of the Grand Canyon. In fact, many of the very same geologic formations are present in both areas. The gorge connects the southwestern rim of the Colorado Plateau and the northeastern part of the Mojave Desert. 

The climate of the gorge is typical of the Mojave Desert with hot summers and mild winters. This desert climate allows for some of the most northern Joshua Tree populations. The canyon is usually about 5 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than St George, Utah, however the canyon can occasionally amplify winds.

Many species depend on the water of the Virgin River. The Virgin River directly supports hundreds of wildlife species including, woundfin, Virgin River chub, Virgin spinedace, flannelmouth sucker, desert sucker, speckled dace, and Southwestern Willow Flycatcher. Many of these species are endangered or are considered sensitive species within the State of Arizona and Utah.

Nearby Attractions

  • The recreation area has an easy, short paved trail accessed near the fee station. This trail goes up to a Joshua Tree grove and a nice developed viewpoint of the Virgin River Gorge.
  • The recreation area also has a trailhead to Sullivan Canyon. This trail crosses the river and traverses 3 miles through wilderness to Sullivan Canyon. 
  • Follow the high clearance road about 2 miles northwest across from the Virgin River Canyon Recreation Area, you will reach the Cedar Pocket Wash trailhead. Here, there is a short trail to a Joshua Tree grove and plenty of views. A side trail leads steeply down to the wash where you can hike through a limestone slot canyon.  

contact_info

This location is unstaffed. To speak with our main office for general information, please call: (435) 688-3200.

Charges & Cancellations

Cancellations*: *cancellation becomes a "late cancellation" at 12:01 am EST on the day before arrival.

• $10.00 fee if reservation is changed/cancelled earlier than the day before arrival.

• $10.00 plus first night's camping fee is charged if reservation is cancelled the day before or the day of the arrival, except when the reservation is only for 1 night (in which case only the first night's camping fee is charged).

No Shows: customer does not arrive and/or does not cancel reservation by check out time (11 :00am) the day after the scheduled arrival date.

$20.00 service fee charged and forfeit the first night's user fee

• If requested before the late cancellation window: NRRS will handle

• If requested during the late cancellation window (day before arrival, or day of arrival): Customer will be

charged first night's use fee, and refunded rest

• If requested after arrival, during or after departure from site: recreation.gov processes and field office has to approve

Photos

Restroom at Night
Restroom at Night
BLM
Riverside view with Lower Loop
Riverside view with Lower Loop
BLM
Group Site
Group Site
BLM
ADA Site 94
ADA Site 94
BLM
Inside of the flush toilet restrooms
Inside of the flush toilet restrooms
BLM
Accessible Restroom
Accessible Restroom
BLM
Sheltered Site with the Paiute Mountains
Sheltered Site with the Paiute Mountains
BLM
Sites along the River
Sites along the River
BLM
Picnic Table with Joshua Tree
Picnic Table with Joshua Tree
BLM
Fee Kiosk
Fee Kiosk
BLM
North Restroom
North Restroom
BLM
Virgin River flowing next to the Lower Loop
Virgin River flowing next to the Lower Loop
BLM
Restroom at Night
Restroom at Night
BLM
Riverside view with Lower Loop
Riverside view with Lower Loop
BLM
Group Site
Group Site
BLM
ADA Site 94
ADA Site 94
BLM
Inside of the flush toilet restrooms
Inside of the flush toilet restrooms
BLM
Accessible Restroom
Accessible Restroom
BLM
Sheltered Site with the Paiute Mountains
Sheltered Site with the Paiute Mountains
BLM
Sites along the River
Sites along the River
BLM
Picnic Table with Joshua Tree
Picnic Table with Joshua Tree
BLM
Fee Kiosk
Fee Kiosk
BLM
North Restroom
North Restroom
BLM
Virgin River flowing next to the Lower Loop
Virgin River flowing next to the Lower Loop
BLM
Restroom at Night
Restroom at Night
BLM
Riverside view with Lower Loop
Riverside view with Lower Loop
BLM
Group Site
Group Site
BLM
ADA Site 94
ADA Site 94
BLM
Inside of the flush toilet restrooms
Inside of the flush toilet restrooms
BLM
Accessible Restroom
Accessible Restroom
BLM
Sheltered Site with the Paiute Mountains
Sheltered Site with the Paiute Mountains
BLM
Sites along the River
Sites along the River
BLM
Picnic Table with Joshua Tree
Picnic Table with Joshua Tree
BLM
Fee Kiosk
Fee Kiosk
BLM
North Restroom
North Restroom
BLM
Virgin River flowing next to the Lower Loop
Virgin River flowing next to the Lower Loop
BLM
Restroom at Night
Restroom at Night
BLM
Riverside view with Lower Loop
Riverside view with Lower Loop
BLM
Group Site
Group Site
BLM
ADA Site 94
ADA Site 94
BLM
Inside of the flush toilet restrooms
Inside of the flush toilet restrooms
BLM
Accessible Restroom
Accessible Restroom
BLM
Sheltered Site with the Paiute Mountains
Sheltered Site with the Paiute Mountains
BLM
Sites along the River
Sites along the River
BLM
Picnic Table with Joshua Tree
Picnic Table with Joshua Tree
BLM
Fee Kiosk
Fee Kiosk
BLM
North Restroom
North Restroom
BLM
Virgin River flowing next to the Lower Loop
Virgin River flowing next to the Lower Loop
BLM
Restroom at Night
Restroom at Night
BLM
Riverside view with Lower Loop
Riverside view with Lower Loop
BLM
Group Site
Group Site
BLM
ADA Site 94
ADA Site 94
BLM
Inside of the flush toilet restrooms
Inside of the flush toilet restrooms
BLM
Accessible Restroom
Accessible Restroom
BLM
Sheltered Site with the Paiute Mountains
Sheltered Site with the Paiute Mountains
BLM
Sites along the River
Sites along the River
BLM
Picnic Table with Joshua Tree
Picnic Table with Joshua Tree
BLM
Fee Kiosk
Fee Kiosk
BLM
North Restroom
North Restroom
BLM
Virgin River flowing next to the Lower Loop
Virgin River flowing next to the Lower Loop
BLM
Restroom at Night
Restroom at Night
BLM
Riverside view with Lower Loop
Riverside view with Lower Loop
BLM
Group Site
Group Site
BLM
ADA Site 94
ADA Site 94
BLM
Inside of the flush toilet restrooms
Inside of the flush toilet restrooms
BLM
Accessible Restroom
Accessible Restroom
BLM
Sheltered Site with the Paiute Mountains
Sheltered Site with the Paiute Mountains
BLM
Sites along the River
Sites along the River
BLM
Picnic Table with Joshua Tree
Picnic Table with Joshua Tree
BLM
Fee Kiosk
Fee Kiosk
BLM
North Restroom
North Restroom
BLM
Virgin River flowing next to the Lower Loop
Virgin River flowing next to the Lower Loop
BLM
Restroom at Night
Restroom at Night
BLM
Riverside view with Lower Loop
Riverside view with Lower Loop
BLM
Group Site
Group Site
BLM
ADA Site 94
ADA Site 94
BLM
Inside of the flush toilet restrooms
Inside of the flush toilet restrooms
BLM
Accessible Restroom
Accessible Restroom
BLM
Sheltered Site with the Paiute Mountains
Sheltered Site with the Paiute Mountains
BLM
Sites along the River
Sites along the River
BLM
Picnic Table with Joshua Tree
Picnic Table with Joshua Tree
BLM
Fee Kiosk
Fee Kiosk
BLM
North Restroom
North Restroom
BLM
Virgin River flowing next to the Lower Loop
Virgin River flowing next to the Lower Loop
BLM
Restroom at Night
Restroom at Night
BLM
Riverside view with Lower Loop
Riverside view with Lower Loop
BLM
Group Site
Group Site
BLM
ADA Site 94
ADA Site 94
BLM
Inside of the flush toilet restrooms
Inside of the flush toilet restrooms
BLM
Accessible Restroom
Accessible Restroom
BLM
Sheltered Site with the Paiute Mountains
Sheltered Site with the Paiute Mountains
BLM
Sites along the River
Sites along the River
BLM
Picnic Table with Joshua Tree
Picnic Table with Joshua Tree
BLM
Fee Kiosk
Fee Kiosk
BLM
North Restroom
North Restroom
BLM
Virgin River flowing next to the Lower Loop
Virgin River flowing next to the Lower Loop
BLM
Restroom at Night
Restroom at Night
BLM
Riverside view with Lower Loop
Riverside view with Lower Loop
BLM
Group Site
Group Site
BLM
ADA Site 94
ADA Site 94
BLM
Inside of the flush toilet restrooms
Inside of the flush toilet restrooms
BLM
Accessible Restroom
Accessible Restroom
BLM
Sheltered Site with the Paiute Mountains
Sheltered Site with the Paiute Mountains
BLM
Sites along the River
Sites along the River
BLM
Picnic Table with Joshua Tree
Picnic Table with Joshua Tree
BLM
Fee Kiosk
Fee Kiosk
BLM
North Restroom
North Restroom
BLM
Virgin River flowing next to the Lower Loop
Virgin River flowing next to the Lower Loop
BLM
Restroom at Night
Restroom at Night
BLM
Riverside view with Lower Loop
Riverside view with Lower Loop
BLM
Group Site
Group Site
BLM
ADA Site 94
ADA Site 94
BLM
Inside of the flush toilet restrooms
Inside of the flush toilet restrooms
BLM
Accessible Restroom
Accessible Restroom
BLM
Sheltered Site with the Paiute Mountains
Sheltered Site with the Paiute Mountains
BLM
Sites along the River
Sites along the River
BLM
Picnic Table with Joshua Tree
Picnic Table with Joshua Tree
BLM
Fee Kiosk
Fee Kiosk
BLM
North Restroom
North Restroom
BLM
Virgin River flowing next to the Lower Loop
Virgin River flowing next to the Lower Loop
BLM

Adventure is at Your Fingertips

Phone

Activities

Iconograph of a tent
CAMPING
Iconograph of three picnic tables
DAY USE AREA
Iconograph of two people wearing backpacks and using walking sticks
HIKING
Iconograph of a picnic table
PICNICKING

Addresses

Virgin River Canyon Recreation Area
Arizona Strip Field Office
345 E Riverside Dr
St George
Utah
84790
X624+67
Littlefield
Arizona
86432

Geographic Coordinates

36.951117, -113.79346

Directions

Virgin River Canyon Recreation Area is located along Interstate 15 approximately 20 miles southwest of St. George, Utah and approximately 20 miles northeast of Mesquite, Nevada. The recreation area is at the Cedar Pocket Exit (Mile Post 18).

Fees

Overnight Use is $8/night (for up to two vehicles). Discount of 50% with Senior or Access America the Beautiful - The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass.

Day Use is $2/vehicle. Day Use is free when you display in your car's dash any America the Beautiful - The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass.