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12 Incredible Lakes for Recreation near St George, UT

Most know St George for Zion, Bryce Canyon, and Grand Canyon National Parks. But the area also has a selection of lakes teeming with fish and offering a chance to cool off in summer or camp.
itiswild.com Best Lakes near St George Utah

Located in the southwestern corner of Utah, St George is a world-renowned destination for exploring Zion, Bryce Canyon, and Grand Canyon National Parks.

But not many know that this area is also rich in lakes and reservoirs, many of which offer BLM and developed campgrounds for overnight stays.

Swimming, kayaking, fishing, and boating are popular activities, with some reservoirs holding state fishing records.

Windy conditions and the deep nature of some of the lakes allow for water skiing, wakeboarding, and windsurfing, too.

Learn more about these lakes and check out what St George has to offer!

Lakes near St George:

  1. Sand Hollow Reservoir
  2. Quail Creek Reservoir
  3. Ivins Reservoir
  4. Gunlock Reservoir
  5. Baker Reservoir
  6. Jackson Flat Reservoir
  7. Kolob Reservoir
  8. Enterprise Reservoirs
  9. Newcastle Reservoir
  10. Navajo Lake
  11. Aspen-Mirror Lake
  12. Panguitch Lake
Lakes near St George Utah Comparison Table
Comparison Table

1. Sand Hollow Reservoir

Sand Hollow Reservoir and State Park Utah
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Sand Hollow Reservoir 
  • Distance from St George: 13 miles (25 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Sailing, Picnics, Hiking, Biking, Camping, OHVs, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing

Thirteen miles east of St. George, Sand Hollow Reservoir took shape in March 2002 as a site where the Washington County Water Conservancy District (WCWCD) stores water within the Navajo Sandstone formations. 

The primary source for this off-stream reservoir comes from water diverted from the Virgin River, providing sufficient inflow to keep this artificial reservoir at approximately 1,322 surface acres.

Since opening in 2003, Sand Hollow State Park has become one of Utah’s busiest. This 20,000-acre location is a place where the reservoir’s blue water meets red rocks and sand, offering a great place to picnic, camp, fish, boat, and enjoy the desert terrain while riding in off-highway vehicles (OHVs). 

All-terrain roadways allow guests to experience desert adventures, while those who swim or boat in the reservoir spend a relaxing day on the water enjoying the view of red rocks and mountains nearby.

The Westside and Sandpit campgrounds offer great places for overnight stays throughout the year. Located between the municipalities of Washington and Hurricane, this reservoir also serves as the home of bluegill, black crappie, and largemouth bass. 

2. Quail Creek Reservoir

Quail Creek State Park and Reservoir Utah
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Quail Creek Reservoir
  • Distance from St George: 14 miles (20 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Sailing, Picnics, Hiking, Biking, Camping, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing

Quail Creek Reservoir was formed in 1985 as another WCWCD-managed water source. This off-stream reservoir captures water from the Virgin River that arrives through a buried pipeline. 

During periods of precipitation, water also comes from Quail Creek and, on its north end, from Harrisburg Creek and its tributary, Leeds Creek, which flows from the Red Cliffs Recreation Area

Quail Creek State Park opened in 1986 along this 600-acre reservoir. Taking advantage of this substantial water storage project, the state-built facilities on the reservoir’s west side allow for boating, camping, and fishing. 

With the area’s hot summers and mild winters, the water of Quail Creek Reservoir is warmer than most public lakes in Utah. 

With the depth of the reservoir reaching 120 feet, this body of water accommodates rainbow trout, crappie, and bullhead catfish at deeper levels. Closer to the surface, bluegill and largemouth bass enjoy the water’s warmer upper layers. 

Two Utah catch-and-release records came from this reservoir: a 16¾” black crappie caught in April 2022 and an 11¼” green sunfish hooked in September 2014.

3. Ivins Reservoir

  • Website: Ivins Reservoir
  • Distance from St George: 11 miles (20 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Hiking, Biking

Originally created by Mormons who settled in the area, Ivins Reservoir came into service in 1918 to support local irrigation purposes. This off-stream 500-acre reservoir diverted water from the nearby Santa Clara River. 

In more than a century of service, this reservoir has been modified on a couple of occasions but has continued to serve as an important water repository eleven miles northwest of downtown St. George. 

The Washington County Water Conservancy District acquired Ivins Reservoir in March 2004. Four years later, WCWCD entered into discussions with Ivins City, the Shivwits Band of Paiute Indians of Utah, and other entities to discuss ways to improve recreational access to the reservoir. 

Discussions led to the creation of Fire Lake Park, a free location covering parts of the Ivins Reservoir with a swimming area, as well as a place to kayak, paddleboard, and fish. 

Bluegill and largemouth bass are found in this catch-and-release site.

4. Gunlock Reservoir

Gunlock Reservoir and State Park Utah
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Gunlock Reservoir
  • Distance from St George: 20 miles (30 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Sailing, Picnics, Hiking, Biking, Camping, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing

Located 20 miles northwest of St. George and a little less than 10 miles away from Ivins Reservoir, Gunlock Reservoir is an impoundment of the Santa Clara River completed in 1970 on a 548.5-acre site purchased from the Bureau of Land Management. 

In a desert area with few trees and along a section of the river that resembles an arid gulch during part of the year, this reservoir created for agricultural irrigation is very welcoming as a recreation site.

The reservoir and small town 2.5 miles north of it are named in honor of William “Gunlock Bill” Hamblin, an early settler in the area. 

Gunlock State Park opened at the reservoir in 1970. The park is a popular place to boat, swim, fish, waterski, and windsurf. Primitive camping is available. 

With an average capacity of 266 acres, the actual water level and activity of small waterfalls in the area depend on river flow from precipitation and seasonal snow melts. 

Day visitors can cast a line for bass and crappie. Campers and travelers in the area can enjoy stargazing in the dark skies during the evening.

5. Baker Reservoir

Frozen reservoir on a sunny day
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Baker Reservoir
  • Distance from St George: 25 miles (30 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Hiking, Biking, Camping

A drive 25 miles north of St. George, Baker Reservoir is an impoundment of the Santa Clara River that is upriver from Gunlock Reservoir. 

Constructed in 1953, Baker Dam sits on land held by the federal Bureau of Land Management, with many privately-owned tracts in the vicinity. 

Authorities developed the Baker Dam Recreation Area in the early 1980s to provide year-round access to the 40-acre reservoir. 

Similar to other artificial reservoirs in the desert area of southwestern Utah, water levels may fluctuate and become quite low during hot and dry periods. 

campground offers stargazing opportunities. Fish within the reservoir include bluegill and an occasional trout. 

6. Jackson Flat Reservoir

  • Website: Jackson Flat Reservoir
  • Distance from St George: 75 miles (1hr 20min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Hiking, Biking, Camping

A 75-mile drive east-southeast of St. George offers access to Jackson Flat Reservoir, an artificial watering hole four miles south of downtown Kanab and less than a mile north of the Arizona-Utah state line. 

Groundbreaking for this 232-acre off-stream reservoir took place in 2010, with the pipeline beginning to fill the space in 2012 to provide recreation and a backup water source for the Kane County Water Conservancy District.

Jackson Flat Reservoir offers opportunities to bike, hike the 3.2-mile Sherry Belle Trail, swim, work out on the three recreational rock formations, play disc golf, or paddle. 

Anglers wishing to cast a line will find sunfish, catfish, largemouth bass, brook trout, brown trout, and rainbow trout. 

7. Kolob Reservoir

Kolob Reservoir Utah
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Kolob Reservoir
  • Distance from St George: 51 miles (1hr 15min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Sailing, Picnics, Hiking, Biking, Camping

At 8,117 feet, Kolob Reservoir is more than 5,400 feet higher than St. George in elevation. A 50-mile mountain drive beyond the Town of Virgin provides access to the reservoir during the period when snow does not cover parts of the road. 

From December into April or early May, a snowmobile may be required on significant portions of this road north of Virgin. 

Kolob Creek Dam impounded water from Kolob Creek after crews built this earthen dam in 1956 for irrigation water storage and flood control. WCWCD acquired the 249-acre reservoir and nearby land in 1995. 

Near the northern boundary of Zion National Park, this reservoir offers seasonal access for those who enjoy fishing and outdoor recreation. 

Seasonal camping is available nearby. Rainbow, cutthroat, and tiger trout swim in the reservoir. 

Related: Guide to Kolob Terrace Road 

8. Enterprise Reservoirs

a reservoir in Utah
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Enterprise Reservoirs
  • Distance from St George: 53 miles (1hr 10min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Sailing, Picnics, Hiking, Biking, Camping, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing

A drive of a little more than 50 miles north-northwest of downtown St. George, the two Enterprise Reservoirs illustrate the determination of early settlers to this dry desert area of southwestern Utah. 

With support from Mormons in St. George, work began on these reservoirs in the 1890s, with hope of creating a reliable water source for the settlement of Enterprise, six miles east of Hebron. 

Two reservoirs were built: the 354-acre Upper Enterprise Reservoir and, to its northeast, the 50-acre Lower Enterprise Reservoir, both with an elevation of 5,761 feet.

Today, the clear-blue reservoirs surrounded by desert, and pinyon-juniper forest attracts those interested in hiking, biking, OHV riding, fishing, boating, and camping. 

The Honeycomb Rocks Campground offers overnight visits and a great dark sky option for stargazing. Non-motorized boats are welcome for anglers who want to cast a line for rainbow trout and smallmouth bass. 

9. Newcastle Reservoir

Canoeing on a reservoir in Utah
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Newcastle Reservoir
  • Distance from St George: 53 miles (1hr 5min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics

A drive of between 50 and 75 miles north, depending on the route taken, Newcastle Reservoir is an impoundment of Pinto Creek a little southeast of the unincorporated community of Newcastle. 

This impoundment in southwestern Iron County can reach over 220 acres during the spring and shrink to 150 acres by the fall after a warm summer. 

The reservoir’s seasonal ebb and flow may affect the best place along the ledges and chunks of rock for anglers to cast their lines. 

Species found here include chubs and sunfish, but smallmouth bass, rainbow trout, and wipers reign supreme. 

The state catch-and-keep record for a wiper, a 16 lbs. 8.32 oz. fish, was caught here in 2022.

10. Navajo Lake

Navajo Lake Utah
Source: flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Website: Navajo Lake
  • Distance from St George: 80 miles (1hr 30min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Sailing, Picnics, Hiking, Biking, Camping

Located 80 miles northeast of St. George and 25 miles east of Cedar City, Navajo Lake sits within a section of Dixie National Forest, well-known as “Color Country.” 

Situated near Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, Cedar Breaks, and other picturesque destinations, this lake averages approximately 709 acres in size and sits 9,250 feet above sea level. 

Located on a plateau east of Cedar Mountain and Black Mountain, this lake sits in a basin naturally closed by a lava flow that cut off the original drainage into Duck Creek. After the lava flow created this impoundment, the water took a subterranean course for its outflow from the lake. 

Fishing, swimming, and boating are popular on this lake. Brook, rainbow, and splake trout are found here. 

11. Aspen-Mirror Lake

Aspen-Mirror Lake Duck Creek Utah
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Aspen-Mirror Lake
  • Distance from St George: 82 miles (1hr 30min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Picnics, Hiking

Aspen-Mirror Lake sits alongside Duck Creek Village, approximately 80 miles northeast of St. George. 

Not to be confused with Mirror Lake in the Uinta Mountains, 300 miles northeast of Duck Creek, this small lake is an expanded area of the creek created by a slight impoundment. 

Forest Service recreation trails offer access to this lake, a short walk from the commercial area of the small unincorporated community of Duck Creek in Kane County. 

Water flows into this small lake through Duck Creek after sitting in Duck Lake, two miles to the west. 

Within Aspen-Mirror Lake and other areas of Duck Creek, anglers will find brook, brown, and rainbow trout. 

12. Panguitch Lake

Panguitch Lake Utah
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Panguitch Lake
  • Distance from St George: 92 miles (1hr 50min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Hiking, Biking, Camping

Located approximately 90 miles northeast of St. George, Panguitch Lake is a natural lake that is 8,400 feet above sea level. 

Originally 777 acres in size, a dam has allowed the size of this lake to expand to approximately 1,248 surface acres before the waters flow northward into Panguitch Creek and meet the Sevier River near the City of Panguitch, approximately 18 miles to the northeast.

Panguitch Lake is a popular recreation destination in the Dixie National Forest. The lake’s name comes from a local Indian word that means “big fish.” 

Located on Utah State Route 143, a scenic high-elevation road between Cedar Breaks National Monument and Bryce Canyon National Park, the area around the lake is popular for hiking, mountain biking, equestrian activities, fishing, ATV riding, and winter activities. 

Trout call this lake home. 

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