Virgin River Canyon Recreation Area

Popular spot on the Virgin RIver from the Virgin River Canyon Recreation Area
Phone:
Address:

X624+67 Littlefield, AZ 86432

Latitude/Longitude:
36.951117, -113.79346
Directions:

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

Fee Description:

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

Day Use is $2/vehicle. Free with any America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Passes.

PICNICKING
CAMPING
DAY USE AREA
HIKING

Virgin River Canyon Recreation Area

Overview

The Virgin River Canyon Recreation Area is located approximately 20 miles southwest of St. George, Utah, and 20 miles east of Mesquite, Nevada. The recreation area includes a campground and day-use area. It is easily accessed off of Interstate 15 at the Cedar Pocket Exit (mile post 18). The overnight-use fee is $8 per site per day (up to 2 vehicles) and the day-use fee is $2 per vehicle per day.

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 within the recreation area, 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. 

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)

  • 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
  • 5 sites that are ADA compliant
  • 5 sites with shade shelters

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

 

Day-Use Amenities (38 sites)

  • 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.

contact_info

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

Nearby Attractions

  • The recreation area has an easy, short paved trail accessed near the fee kiosk. This trail goes up to 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 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.  

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

Adventure is at Your Fingertips

Photos

Popular spot on the Virgin RIver from the Virgin River Canyon Recreation Area
Accessible Restroom
Compass at the end of the interpretative trail
Newly (2021) remodeled restrooms
Site in the Virgin River Canyon with Joshua Trees
Map of Upper Loop (Campground)
Map of Lower Loop (Day Use Area)