TOQUERVILLE — Stretch out across the sunbaked sandstone terrace, flanked by a trio of pristine waterfalls in this secluded desert oasis on the outskirts of Zion National Park. Find this divine swimming hole, a gushing arrangement of cascades known as Toquerville Falls, at the end of a lonely road on the western fringe of Zion’s quieter Kolob side.
Like all the best things in the southwest, you’ve got to travel a ways to get to them. Off the regular tourist trail, this summertime oasis is an ideal refuge for those whose souls crave solitude. From Toquerville, Utah, – one of Zion National Park’s “gateway” towns – this haven is at the end of a 5.8-mile scenic drive on a barren, bumpy dirt road.
The adventure begins after the pavement ends when a stark, gray valley of sagebrush and crumbling yellow canyons appear – stretching forever across the lonely horizon. As you drive towards the vast backcountry of Zion proper, glimpses of the notorious blood-orange towers of Kolob Canyon rise high above you in the distance. The fiery Kolob cathedrals, rarely viewed from this angle, stand as a striking reference point for the rest of the trip.
For most of the drive, a skinny trace of gray-green trees show the only sign of the life-giving LaVerkin creek below. This trail of green will eventually direct you to Toquerville Falls which bursts into view near the end of the drive. Look for a trio of falls flanked by groves of cottonwood trees as the marker for your stopping point and this wonderful swimming hole.
For a true desert experience, after washing off your sweat in the cascading shower, find one of the many sunbaked rock recliners in this natural amphitheater and stretch out across it. With the warmth of the sun emanating out of the rocks below you and beating on you from above, close your eyes, and allow the sweet tune of gushing water vibrate deep into your soul. Feel your stress float away as the mist vaporizes off the sandstone, and releases your trapped spirit to dance unencumbered with the divine desert sun.
Note: This dirt road is maintained fairly well, but is best suited for trucks and SUVs. Make sure your spare tire is functioning, as the road tends to get bumpy and a spare may be called for. The last 0.2 miles is moderately sandy – if you don’t have four-wheel drive, you’ll want to cover the last section on foot.
From state Route 17, the only highway through Toquerville, turn east onto Spring Street. This will be your road for the next 5.8 miles. This drive typically takes about 30 minutes to get to the falls.
After 0.6 miles, the pavement ends and the road turns into a fairly well-graded gravel road. The winding road gains and loses lots of elevation. Stay right at the first fork you come across – 3.5 miles from Toquerville.
After 5.3 miles you’ll see the falls for the first time from the road. At the next turn, turn right – exactly 5.6 miles from Toquerville. This is where the road can get a little sandy. Park here, or if you have four-wheel drive, continue for 0.2 miles until you reach the swimming hole.
The cliffs surrounding the waterfalls are brittle and slippery. Falls from these cliffs have produced several serious injuries, including this one earlier this year when a woman was life-flighted from the area after sustaining injuries from a fall. Stay away from the edges of the cliffs and refrain from jumping to avoid injuries.
Also, this creek has been known to produce flash floods, especially during the late summer months. Flash floods are the desert’s avalanches. These notorious walls of water are extremely dangerous to be caught in and regularly cause injuries and deaths across the southwest. Stay out of the river if you have any suspicion of rain in the area. Track weather forecasts, and keep your eyes up for rain clouds before entering any desert waterways.
This wilderness area is in an isolated part of the vast, uninhabited desert of southwestern Utah. There is absolutely no cell phone service once you leave Toquerville, and it’s unlikely you will come across another soul on this backcountry road.
The upper LaVerkin Creek, which feeds the Toquerville Falls, does not supply safe drinking water – cows graze this creek and the entire river system has been known to contain bacteria unsafe for humans. Unless you have a water purifier, refrain from drinking the water.
- The St. George Bureau of Land Management office has several maps of the area.
- The LaVerkin Creek area hosts a slew of single-track dirtbike trails, and a few lesser-known ATV trails.
- There are numerous primitive camping spots near the top of the waterfalls.
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