I’ve driven Interstate 15 through the Virgin River Gorge a half dozen times now and marveled at the rugged scenery. Each time I made a mental note of a pretty looking camping area perched in the middle of the a canyon overlooking the river valley below.
I told my wife Anne “We gotta come back sometime and check that out!”
We’ll a couple weeks ago was that time and boy I was not disappointed. If fact, the campground and the surrounding landscape was better than I had imagined during my quick glances from the freeway.
The Virgin River Canyon Recreation Area is located off of Interstate 15 about 20 miles southwest of St. George Utah and about 20 miles northeast of Mesquite, Nevada. Take the Cedar Pockets exit, located halfway through the Virgin River and find yourself in the middle of a wilderness wonderland. Nestled in a pocket of the spectacular Virgin River Gorge, this recreation area is surrounded by colorful cliffs and rocky canyons.- http://www.blm.gov/az/st/en/prog/recreation/camping/dev_camps/vrg.html
Virgin River Canyon Recreation Area
The recreation area is managed by the BLM and contains a 75 site campground plus 33 site day use area. If you’re looking for a place with water and electric hookups this ain’t the place. This is off the grid camping but for dry camping, it is pretty luxurious with flat paved spaces to park and setup the rig.
Most of the campsites have a solid picnic table, fire ring and lots of elbow room between neighbors. Several have metal shelters. Also, on-site you will find a couple washroom buildings with running water, lots of garbage cans and a fresh water filling spigot.
Not a bad setup for the inexpensive sum of $8 per night. But, it gets better if you are a holder of Golden Access Pass or a National Park Annual Pass its discounted 50% to 4 bucks! If you have a large rig, no problem, access off I15 is painless, the roadways in and out are wide and there are many larger spots suitable for longer trailers and Class A rigs.
We visited in mid march and the weather was fantastic in the 70’s and the desert had greened up nicely from the winter rains and snow melt.
What a Photography Bonanza
With its steep canyon walls, river valleys, desert terrain and colorfully layered sandstone cliffs the Virgin River Gorge is a photographer’s paradise. For us, it was magnified even more by a passing storm and the lucky happenstance of arriving just in time to see the Joshua trees in their full blooming glory. I can’t recall ever seeing Joshua trees so bushy looking and packed with so many blooms. It was incredible!
We were camped several days with sunny clear blue skies which were nice but we longed for a little bit of cloud to complete the picture. Finally, one evening a storm front blew in just before sunset in the “golden hour“.
Most of the photos you’ll see in my video and photo gallery were taken that evening and the next morning. The lighting was fantastic and I think really shows off the natural beauty of this little gem of a campground.
One of my favorite photos though was one of Interstate 15. Early in the morning while the sandstone and highway were still wetted down I headed out to the highway overpass. It was a good excuse to walk the beagle and get her business attended to while at the same time hoping for a cool looking roadway shot. It was still very overcast and the light was dull but all of the sudden a spot opened up and the sun shone through giving me this photo.
Video of the Virgin River Canyon Recreation Area
Virgin River Gorge Photo Gallery
So there you go, I hope you enjoyed the video and photos. Now when you are looking for a stopover spot between Salt Lake, Utah and Las Vegas, Nevada you know where to head. It’s well worth a look see if even for a picnic lunch and short stretch of the legs. Cheers Ray
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