Camping and Swimming at Sand Hollow State Park, UT

The hot air shimmers off the pavement, blurring the orange and pink rocks off to the east of us as we travel south on I-15. I am overcome by the beauty of the landscape but also its inhabitable nature.

It is summer and temperatures are in the mid-90s. But the lack of shade makes it feel like an oven. I wonder if this place we are going, Sand Hollow Reservoir, really was an oasis in the midst of the desert. We exit the interstate and head towards Hurricane. The towering sandstone walls of Zion are on the horizon and it isn’t long before our destination is before us.

It is an oasis! A beautiful crystal-clear water lake, with mars-like soft sand and rock islands off shore. We park the camper and head straight for the beach.

Sand Hollow campground

We find Sand Hollow Reservoir just 30 minutes southwest of Zion National Park and 15 minutes northeast of St. George. It is a perfect place to set up base camp for adventuring around Utah’s desert southwest.

We spend hour after hour swimming between rocks, cliff jumping with the kids, playing in the sand, and floating in the sun.

playing on the beach, Sand Holllow Reservoir

Swim, Climb, Jump, Repeat!

Swim, Climb, Jump, Repeat!

While the afternoons are scorching, especially due to the lack of shade on the beach and at the campground, the evenings are very pleasant and we watch the sunset drip pink over the landscape.

Camping at Sand Hollow Res, Utah

Camping at Sand Hollow Res, Utah

Sunrises and triathlons at Sand Hollow reservoir, Utah

Sunrises and triathlon at Sand Hollow reservoir, Utah

Not only is Sand Hollow one of the most beautiful lakes we’ve been to, but the options for day trips in the near-by area are plentiful:

1. Zion National Park

Hiking the rim trail at Zion

We’ve enjoyed kid-friendly hikes such as Emerald Pools and when we are solo, Devil’s Landing is a must!

2. Snow Canyon State Park

Playing on the rocks, hiking kid style!

Playing on the rocks, hiking kid style!

Snow Canyon State Park is a worth destination in itself. It roughly 30-40 minutes from Sand Hollow and has a whole host of family friendly hikes, climbing, and sight-seeing. One of our favorite adventures are the Lava Tubes. Check out our trip report for more info: Snow Canyon SP, Utah

3. Kanarra Creek Slot Canyon

Kanarra Creek Slot Canyon log ladder

Kanarra Creek Canyon is in the town of Kanarraville (try saying that three times fast) and roughly 30-40 minutes north of Sand Hollow.

The Kanarra Creek trailhead is located just outside town and while the first mile or so can be very hot, the temperatures drop considerable once you are in the slot canyon. This is easily one of my favorite hikes in all of Utah!

A note about Swimmer’s Itch at Sand Hollow Reservoir:

In researching Sand Hollow we learned about “Swimmer’s Itch”, a rash caused by small organisms in the water. Swimmer’s Itch occurs only seasonally, usually once the water becomes warmer  and the park rangers did warn us of Swimmers Itch while we were there in September.

However, after talking to some locals, we learned that swimmer’s itch commonly occurs on the south side of the lake by the sand dunes, and they have never seen it by the main swim beach and rocky outcroppings. We’d concur with this as we had no problems with it during the times we’ve visited but we also stayed near the boat dock and swam only near the rocky island.

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