For an RV camping experience like no other, spend some time at Utah’s Gunlock State Park. Other than a boat ramp, restrooms, and a couple of parking areas, there are no facilities at all in this park. If that kind of camping experience interests you, keep reading.
The first European settlers came to this area in the 1850s. A little over a hundred years later, workers built a dam and a flood control reservoir here. Today, visitors enjoy boating, swimming, fishing, and a number of other outdoor activities. You can even have a lovely picnic overlooking the clear blue waters and majestic hilly terrain that makes up the Utah landscape.
This rugged park is located in a rugged area of southwestern Utah. So, it’s tailor-made for your RV. Travelers can enjoy the comforts of home while they get back to nature. So, pack your rig, pull up next to the lake, and stay a while.
RV Rentals in Gunlock State Park
Transportation in Gunlock State Park
To reach Gunlock State Park from St. George, which is on Interstate 15 near the Utah/Arizona border, you can take the direct route or the scenic route. The direct route goes through the Paiute Indian Reservation and its tiny towns. The scenic route goes through stunning Snow Canyon State Park, the equally-stunning Dammeron Valley, and the historic towns of Veyo and Gunlock. Many travelers take one route to the park and the other one back home.
Parking is definitely not an issue at Gunlock State Park. Prepared parking lots are located near the boat launch and also at an informal camping area on the south shore. Other than that, the entire eastern shore of Lake Gunlock is a sand wash, so it’s essentially an unpaved parking lot. Furthermore, there are not many visitors here, so there’s a pretty good chance you may have much of the park to yourself. Talk about getting away from it all.
Campgrounds and parking in Gunlock State Park
Campsites in Gunlock State Park
Campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis only.
This primitive campsite has two back-in and three pull-through RV pad sites. Other people go to the water’s edge and park there, because as mentioned, this area is basically a sand wash. There is an additional parking/camping area on the south shore of the lake. There are no prepared sites here, but the terrain is mostly flat. The tiny towns of Gunlock and Tobin Wash, which are just to the north, have gas and a few camping supplies. This is rustic camping at its finest. Although this camping area does not provide hookups, it can provide a one-of-a-kind experience to get in tune with nature. You'll have easy access to all the thrills of adventure on the beautiful reservoir. Bring a windbreaker, because some campers have noted that it can get very windy.
Seasonal activities in Gunlock State Park
Gunlock Lake has fully bounced back from floods in 2005 and 2006, and some dam reconstruction in 2008, which decimated the fish population. Today, the bass fishing here is excellent. Many anglers say it is as good as Quail Creek, Sand Hollow, and other renowned bass fishing spots in the state. There are lots of bluegill and crappie in this lake as well. Since it’s up high, lake waters are still chilly in March and April. The best fishing time is usually from May to June.
Continuing with the springtime theme, water flows along Gunlock Falls when the lake reaches capacity during springtime. Much of the falls is more like a rapids, but it’s still very nice. For the most part, the lake bottom is smooth and sloping. There are no major drop-offs or riptides. Nevertheless, since no lifeguard is on duty, it’s always best to swim with a buddy, especially if you take a raft and go out far onto the water.
The boat launch and parking area are near the park entrance. Although Gunlock Lake is by no means huge, power boating is still popular here. When you get out to the middle of the lake, it’s almost impossible to see shoreline. Canoers, paddleboarders, and other unpowered craft are welcome here as well. Drift up to the north and enjoy the rushing water, or paddle into the tranquil southern part of the lake.
Geographic isolation, dry weather, and high elevation combine to create excellent skywatching conditions, especially on those long winter nights. These nights get cold, but not Siberia cold, so you can stand to be outside for a while. Use almost any telescope to see sharp details on Venus and Mars. Use a slightly-larger telescope to see the same things on Jupiter and Saturn. You’ll also see stunning shooting stars and large gas nebulae.
Many animals come from the fringes of Snow Canyon to drink at the reservoir. Expect to see lots of foxes, coyotes, and other small mammals. You may see a few cattle and sheep from area ranches as well. Overhead, look for falcons and other birds of prey. If you get very lucky, you may see an eagle swoop down and catch a fish. That’s a sight like no other.
Grab your walking stick, lace up your hiking boots, and head out of your RV. All of Gunlock State Park is basically one big hiking trail. The eastern shore is a mostly flat sand wash that’s easy to traverse but may be slippery after it rains. The rocky western shore is a little more difficult, but it’s also mostly flat. Try the area around the northern part of the lake, near Miners Canyon and the flood-prone Santa Clara River. The wildflowers are pretty here during the spring. If you want a more well-developed trail, try the area between Manganese Wash and Limekiln Wash in the western part of the park.