The Virgin River Canyon Recreation Area!
Thousands of people drive on I-15 while passing through Nevada and Utah each day. Plenty of people commute on this highway between Las Vegas, Mesquite, St George and Salt Lake City each week. The flow of traffic between Utah and Nevada is always hurried. It seems like drivers on this section of road only focus upon making good travel time and it is difficult to not get caught up in the rat race.
One would be surprised to see how few people take a break from the road when traveling from Utah to Las Vegas or vice versa. Folks that get the weekend off, usually hop in the car with an overnight bag and they speed all the way to Vegas, just to get a few extra minutes of nightlife in. People that went for broke while overstaying their visit in Vegas usually waste no time crossing the Utah border too. One might say that driving on the stretch of Interstate 15 between Nevada and Utah is truly life in the fast lane.
By listening to accounts of drivers that travel on I-15 between Utah and Nevada, one might assume that theses two states border upon each other somewhere along this road. Few travelers realize that a small corner of Arizona separates these two states. Interstate Highway 15 passes through a small portion of Bureau of Land Management territory in northwestern Arizona, which in reality is more like "no man's land!"
The old saying "no man's land" usually refers to some kind of a god forsaken inhospitable place. This definitely describes northwestern Arizona during the intense heat of summer. During the cool fall and winter seasons, the northwestern Arizona climate is much more hospitable. Even so, commuters that are in a hurry to get to Nevada or Utah on I-15 still just look at this region of Arizona like it is just another desolate area that offers nothing worth slowing the car down for. Maybe this is a good thing, because no matter how much traffic is flowing on I-15 between Nevada and Utah, relatively few cars will venture off the exit ramp that leads to one of the most scenic places in the northwestern Arizona BLM territory. The Virgin River Canyon Recreation Area!
The Virgin River Canyon Recreation Area is unique, to say the least! The view from I-15 of this spectacular canyon simply does not do justice. A traveler has to take the time to get off the highway to get the best views of this scenic place, yet few travelers are willing to give up a few extra minutes of travel time, when Las Vegas is on the horizon. This is part of what makes the Virgin River Canyon Recreation Area so unique. It seems like every time that I have visited this place, I am the only person there, while thousands of other cars hurry along on I-15.
Those who slow down and take a break from the highway at the Virgin River Canyon Recreation Area are rewarded with scenic views and plenty to do. This section of BLM territory is set in some very rough terrain. Mountains, gorges and the peaceful Virgin River basin create a dramatic landscape that is like no other.
There are hiking and mountain bike trails that lead to plenty more panoramic views. The Virgin River draws plenty of wildlife and this is a great place to catch a glimpse of Bighorn Sheep on the high rocky crags. Spending an afternoon panning for gold or rock collecting along the river is relaxing way to spend the day. Chasing jackrabbits and teasing the ravens has a way of making one forget that the highway is even there.
The Virgin River Canyon Recreation Area is well maintained and the facilities are top notch. There is running water, the restrooms are cooled and there are plenty of picnic tables. This BLM recreation area also offers 24 hour camping with drive through sites for RV enthusiasts. Because Las Vegas and a few National Parks are close by, there are always plenty of open campsites to choose from at this lesser known place.
From Las Vegas, the Virgin River Canyon Recreation Area is about 90 minutes north on I-15. From Mesquite, Nevada or St George, Utah, this destination is only about a 20 minute drive. There really is nothing in this section of Arizona other than wilderness, so the two towns across either border are the best bet for stocking up on camping gear.
It is funny how so many commuters between Utah and Nevada do not know that the Virgin River Canyon Recreation Area even exists. The exit sign passes by like a blur, when traveling in a hurry. For those who prefer to not be part of the rat race, touring at a leisurely pace sure does have its benefits. The Virgin River Canyon Recreation Area is the perfect place to get off the road and stretch the legs and maybe stay a spell. The Virgin River Canyon Recreation Area only a few hundred yards off the highway, yet it is a million miles away!