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Sand Hollow Reservoir, a ‘crown jewel’ of Utah state parks, turns 20

A photo of Sand Hollow reservoir.
Lexi Peery
Sand Hollow is the most visited state park in Utah and the reservoir is a vital resource for Washington County.

A popular recreation attraction in Washington County is turning 20 years old. Sand Hollow is not only the largest reservoir in the county — it's also the most visited state park in Utah.

The reservoir captures spring runoff from the Virgin River and stores it for drier months and even years, like in 2021. Zach Renstrom, the general manager for the county’s water district, said its importance to the residents of Washington County can’t be overstated.

“If you've moved here in the last 20 years … The only reason why you're able to do that is because of Sand Hollow Reservoir,” he said. “If it wasn't for Sand Hollow Reservoir being constructed, we would have ran out of water, it’s as simple as that.”

Almost all of Utah’s water supply comes from mountain snowpack that’s stored in the state’s reservoirs. Last year, Renstrom said southwest Utah had one of the lowest runoffs ever, but the storage capacity at Sand Hollow guaranteed there would be enough drinking water for people.

Renstrom added Sand Hollow and other reservoirs will continue to play a vital role in managing water as the population in the region grows.

It’s also a key recreation destination, with over 1.6 million people visiting the site last year.

“This area that has been a favorite to locals and visitors for a lot of years just continues to grow,” said Devan Chavez, a spokesperson for the state parks division. “It's just so awesome to see how far that park has come in 20 years, not only in as much as visitation but also as it continues to grow and get improvements.”

Chavez called Sand Hollow “one of the crown jewels of the state park system.” But as the park, and others across the state, prepare for another potentially busy season, he encouraged people to prepare for crowds and recreate responsibly.

“If all the state parks are full, [look for] some other hidden gems in the area,” he said.

To help deal with the increase in visitation, Chavez said they’re putting in an additional campground at the reservoir.

Lexi is KUER's Southwest Bureau reporter
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