GUNLOCK, Utah – The southwest experienced some unusual winter weather this year, with record rainfall, record snowfall and now rare waterfalls.
Snow is still melting off the mountains, leaving a beautiful water wonderland at Gunlock State Park.
It was a great year for Utah’s snowpack — most of the state 200 to 400 percent above average.
In southwest Utah, the melted snow is running into the Santa Clara River, and the overflowing water causes waterfalls like the ones at Gunlock State Park.
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More people are visiting Gunlock State Park this year because of the emergence of rare waterfalls following a great year for snowpack in Utah. (Fox News/Ashley Soriano)
“It takes a while for that water to get off the mountain and down to this point with 80-degree temperatures last weekend, we will be seeing a lot higher flow and we’ll continue to see higher flows as we get through the nineties,” Jon Allred, the park manager, said.
This is only the fourth time in 15 years the water has been strong enough to create the falls, including in 2008, 2019 and 2020.
“There’s no way to guarantee snowpack. It’s kind of just one of those things that happens,” Allred said. “We can see years where it happens multiple times like 2019 and 2020, or we can see years where it takes multiple years off.”
Melting snow has caused rare waterfalls at Gunlock State Park in southwest Utah. (Fox News/Ashley Soriano)
During the pandemic in 2020, the Utah State Parks office modified the flow to stop the water because there were too many people to properly social distance.
More visitors than usual have been visiting the park this year since the falls emerged around early March. Allred says social media has played a role in drawing people to the area.
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“I’ve been here a few times before in the past couple of years, and this is the first time I’ve seen it, so it’s pretty cool,” said Alani Havili, visiting from Salt Lake City.
One couple from the area has seen the waterfalls before but not like this.
“I like to keep it kind of a hidden secret. I want people to be able to see, but yet it’s nice to have it kind of special and not known,” said Shelley and Mike Feuerstein. “Last year we came up and there wasn’t anything to see… This year it’s pretty crowded.”
The rare waterfalls at Gunlock State Park in southwest Utah have attracted more visitors than usual.
The park expects the waterfalls to last a few more weeks, if not months, but it all depends on how quickly the snow melts, which also presents a flood risk. More north, the Salt Lake City area has been getting rain, snow and flooding through spring.
At Gunlock State Park, the trails have changed because more foot traffic is loosening the sand. Allred urges people to be aware of the changing trails and to be cautious around swift waters.
Only two people have broken their ankles and no one has died this season.