ST. GEORGE — If you're thinking of visiting Gunlock Reservoir for its waterfalls this year, consider a change of plans.
For the last two years, the waterfalls that spilled out of Gunlock Reservoir flowed due to the high levels of melting snowpack present in the mountains at the time. This year, due to low snowpack, water levels at Gunlock aren't rising to the occasion as they have in previous years.
Around this time in 2019 and 2020, southwest Utah saw snowpacks of 190% and 120% of average respectively. As of April 12, 2021, the snowpack is at 32% of average, according to the National Resources Conservation Service.
The previous years' high snowpack filled Gunlock and the county's other reservoirs to capacity or close to it. In Gunlock's case, this allowed excess water to spill over the reservoir's southern end and down into the Santa Clara River.
Will the waterfalls at Gunlock State Park near St. George flow this spring? No! We don't expect to see the falls this year due to low water levels and below normal snowpack in nearby mountains. pic.twitter.com/wCut9CNzqD— Utah DNR (@UtahDNR) April 12, 2021
"It's a rare and beautiful occurrence to see the falls at Gunlock Reservoir," Karry Rathje, of the Washington County Water Conservancy District, said in an email Monday. "The falls are created when the reservoir is full and spilling. Unfortunately, the reservoir is only about half full today and it's unlikely the reservoir will fill this year given the lack of precipitation. We're entering this season with lower reservoir levels throughout the county."