Nevada Water Science Center

Virgin River

The north and east forks of the Virgin River begin in southwest Utah; the two forks come together below Zion National park, Utah. The river runs through the northwest corner of Arizona then enters Nevada near the town of Mesquite. The river is approximately 162 miles long and discharges into Lake Mead. In Nevada, the Virgin River is in the Colorado River Basin (hydrographic region 13) in the Virgin River Valley hydrographic area.

The Virgin River is susceptible to flooding, especially during heavy rains in winter. During flooding in 2005, streamflow in the Virgin River was high and swift enough to damage the USGS gaging station at Littlefield, Ariz.

Map of the Virgin River

USGS Nevada Water Science Center maintains 7 real-time streamflow gages on the Virgin River.


Real-Time Streamflow :: Daily Values :: Peak-Flow :: Water Quality


Beck, D.A., and Wilson, J.W., 2006, Discharge and physical-property measurements from Virgin River Narrows, Arizona, to Lake Mead, Nevada, February 12, 2003: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2006-5286, 10 p.

Hilmes, M.M., and Vaill, J.E., 1997, Estimates of bridge scour at two sites on the Virgin River, southeastern Nevada, using a sediment-transport model and historical geomorphic data: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 97-4073, 72 p.

Laney, R.L., and Bales, J.T., 1996, Geohydrologic reconnaissance of Lake Mead National Recreation Area--Las Vegas Wash to Virgin River, Nevada: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 96-4033, 44 p.

Carlson, D.D., and Meyer, D.F., 1995, Flood on the Virgin River, January 1989, in Utah, Arizona, and Nevada: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 94-4159, 21 p.

Bales, J.T., and Laney, R.L., 1992, Geohydrologic reconnaissance of Lake Mead National Recreation Area-Virgin River, Nevada, to Grand Wash Cliffs, Arizona: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 91-4185, 29 p.

Glancy, P.A., and Van Denburgh, A.S., 1969, Water-resources appraisal of the lower Virgin River Valley area, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah: Nevada Division of Water Resources, Reconnaissance Report 51, 87 p.


The Virgin River basin offers many recreational activities. The north fork of the Virgin River runs through Zion National park. Zion is known for its beautifully colored sandstone cliffs and natural arches. Hiking trails are plentiful and many hikers enjoy the river hiking offered in the Zion Narrows.


Downstream from Zion National park, the river flows through the Virgin River Gorge. The Virgin River Gorge is a long, steep limestone and sandstone canyon that is popular with experienced rock climbers.


Virgin River


USGS data can help outdoor enthusiasts plan trips for when conditions will be best.


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page Last Modified: May 1, 2012