Willard Bay State Park
In 1964 the reservoir at Willard Bay was sanctioned off from the Great Salt Lake by a manmade dike, drained of the salt water then filled from the combined flows of the Weber and Ogden Rivers. Its main purpose was to provide irrigation, drinking water, and recreation for the northern Wasatch Front communities. Today Willard Bay State Park is a freshwater reservoir that is located only miles from both Ogden and Brigham City, UT, and offers awesome camping and boating, excellent birding and exciting fishing.
What Makes It Great
Willard Bay has become a destination for water sports through the warmer months. Pelican Beach is a huge swimming spot with warm summer water and is a great place to water ski and Jet Ski around or to try out stand up paddleboarding. To get away from the crowds you can motor to the west side of the lake for plenty of open space.
Fishing at Willard Bay is not to be missed. So take a break from the motor sports and throw in a line. The reservoir is home to numerous fish including crappie, bluegill, catfish, bass and wiper. If you’re looking for the best spots to fish, you have a few options. There are several great locations to troll from a boat in here. Cruising along the length of the North Dike and the Light Pole, the west side of the lake, are good places to start. Fishing near the Island, a hump northwest of the South Marina, is always a good bet as well. Try to get your lures down as far as possible.
Photo by Louis Arevalo
The state park operates two marinas, the north and south. Both are equipped with modern campgrounds, boat launches, restrooms, waterfront picnic areas, and docks. The North Marina has sandy beaches that are equipped with cabanas making them the perfect place to spend the day. Two other campground options await travelers looking for a quiet escape; pitch your tent or park your RV at Cottonwood, or Willow Creek campgrounds, both within the park. These sites offer everything from primitive to full 30-amp hookup amenities.
Willard Bay is a great Utah birding destination any time of year. In the fall and winter, however, watch for migratory birds and fishing species like the common loon, tern and bald eagle — Willard Bay is one of the top spots in the nation to see bald eagles during the winter season. The mile-long Linda C. Higley Nature Trail is a fairly recent addition to the park's trail system, and a great short winter hike.
What You’ll Remember
If you are fishing from the shores of Willard Bay you should try the northeast corner near Fremont Cove. Here, the water is sometimes shallow enough to wade in, or if the water is high, fishing off of the north dike is a good zone. The inlet channel at the South Marina is another known hot spot. But for convenience you really can’t beat fishing from the sands of Pelican Beach.
Catching wipers at Willard Bay is a blast. A hybrid between a white bass and a striped bass, wipers are known to be heavy strikers and energetic fighters. Wipers regularly feed on shad, a smaller fish found in the lake, and will actually herd them to the surface, making the water appear to be boiling. When this happens you best throw your lure into the fray. It’s not unheard of to land a wiper with every cast during a boil.
Who’s Going to Love It
Willard Bay has become the ideal spot for anything water related. Whether it’s splashing near the shore, carving the water’s surface, reeling in hefty fish, birding or camping on the beach, you really can’t go wrong with a visit to the Bay. Willard Bay is also a great destination for stand up paddleboarding, including both beginners and stronger paddlers looking to take in the sights. Bring your friends and family to Willard Bay for days of fun on the water!
Photo by Louis Arevalo
GPS Coordinates, Parking, and Regulations
Address: 900 W. 650 N. #A, Willard, UT 84340, (435)734-9494
Directions From Salt Lake City/Ogden: The North Marina, Day Use Areas and Campgrounds are located just west of the I-15. From I-15 N, take exit 357, turn left under the freeway then turn left into the park. The South Marina, Day Use Areas and Campgrounds are also located just a little farther west of I-15, take exit #351, turn left and follow the signs.
Directions From Brigham City: The North Marina, Day Use Areas and Campgrounds are located just west of the I-15. From I-15 S, take exit 357, turn right and then immediately left into the park. The South Marina, Day Use Areas and Campgrounds are also located just a little farther west of I-15, take exit #351, turn right and follow the signs.
Park gates are closed from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily.
Pets are prohibited at the Eagle Beach day-use area.
Be aware that Willard Bay is a shallow lake with fluctuating water levels, and weather conditions change rapidly creating extreme lake conditions. For boating conditions contact the park.
- Learn more
- The park is frequently sprayed for mosquito abatement during the summer. Dates of spraying are posted at the park entrance.
Willard Bay State Park
Willard, Utah 84340