How to Have the Perfect Weekend on the Water at Quail Creek State Park
Just 15 miles north of St. George and even closer to the town of Hurricane, Quail Creek State Park, with its warm water and mild weather offers an idyllic Southwestern getaway, no matter the time of year.
The park’s centerpiece and namesake, the Quail Creek Reservoir, is the greater St. George area’s water supply. Completed in 1895, the reservoir is formed by two dams and draws water not just from Quail Creek, but from the Virgin River, as well. (Despite being spelled like the bird, the reservoir draws its name from Anthony Quayle, a local hat manufacturer who supplied neighboring Mormon communities.)
In addition to its immediate surroundings, the colorful striped cliffs so emblematic of the American Southwest, Quail Creek State Park has plenty of nearby attractions to extend your trip. It’s a mere 45 minutes east to Zion National Park, and even closer to Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, as well as Snow Canyon and Sand Hollow state parks. This means, of course, that many of the same otherworldly geological features you’ll find in Utah’s best-known parks are also nearby at Quail Creek.
Cast a Line
One of the best ways to take in the beautiful southwest Utah landscapes is from the water — and there’s no shortage of ways to explore the lake itself. It reaches depths of up to 120 feet, keeping the water temperature cold enough for the local fish population. The reservoir is stocked with a range of species that beckon anglers, including bullhead catfish, crappie, rainbow trout and, in the upper (warmer) water, bluegill and largemouth bass. In fact, the reservoir is considered one of Utah’s best bass fisheries.
Of course, in order to fish on the lake, visitors will need a valid Utah state fishing license. Purchase one at the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources’ Washington County Field Office, right on the shores of Quail Lake, or at one of a dozen other retailers in nearby Hurricane or St. George (they can also be purchased online). Annual licenses are $34 for Utah residents (if you only plan to fish while you’re at Quail Lake, they’re $16 for three days or $20 for a week); for non-residents, they’re $24 for three days or $40 for seven days.
Get Out on the Water
If the surface of the reservoir is of more interest than what’s lurking underneath, you can also head out for a day of water skiing or wakeboarding on its 600 acres. The park has two boat ramps for public use (open from 7 am to 9 pm daily). If you’re bringing a boat from out of state, be prepared to undergo an inspection by park officials before you can launch.
Active-minded types will appreciate the chance to paddle at Quail Creek State Park. The park is home to Dig Paddlesports, the county’s first paddle shop. The retailer opened its doors in 2011, and in 2014, set up shop within park boundaries, right on the shores of Quail Creek Reservoir. (To get there, head to the north end of the parking lot once you enter the park; you’ll know you’ve arrived when you see a rack of paddleboards.) Dig carries several popular brands of stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, and accessories. Certified coaches and instructors are also available to give visitors the skills they need to have a great weekend on the water.
Dig also rents single and tandem kayaks, along with SUPs and water carpets, which are perfect for lounging on the water with a big group of friends. You can rent any vessel for anywhere from an hour ($20 to $30) to a full 24 hours ($70 to $75). If you’re already a master SUPer and looking for an additional challenge, head to one of Dig’s 90-minute SUP Yoga classes, taught by certified instructors. During the summer months, weekly sunset classes are a unique way to enjoy the view while practicing your poses.
Stay the Night
You can also turn your day on the water into an overnight adventure thanks to 22 campsites at Quail Creek State Park, each available for $25 per night (reserve your spot online in advance). The campground has both back-in and pull-through sites, and can accommodate RVs up to 35 feet long; choose a site number in the high teens or low 20s for a spot close to the water. Drinking water and modern restroom facilities are on site, and dogs are allowed, too.
One of the best things about Quail Creek State Park is that it’s open year-round. With warm water, spectacular red rock desert backdrop, and mild climate, there’s no bad time to visit. Stock up on supplies in St. George, then head to the park, pay the $10 entrance fee (or, if you’re tempted to visit again, the $75 annual state parks pass pays for itself quickly), and get ready for a phenomenal weekend on the water.
Written by Emma Walker for RootsRated Media in partnership with Utah Office of Tourism.