Fast Flow Alert Mountain snowmelt and spring runoff across the state have increased the potential for fast moving rivers and debris flows in some areas. Learn more
Red Fleet State Park   |  Clark Goldsberry

Watersports and Boating in Utah

We may be a desert, but water recreation in Utah is as good as it gets — houseboating, water skiing, rafting, kayaking, fishing, swimming — it's available in abundance. Utah ranks as one of the top 10 states in surface-acres of boatable waters. Lake Powell alone has more shoreline than the U.S. West Coast, our whitewater rivers are world-class, our reservoirs and lakes are some of the biggest in the country and our blue-ribbon fishing streams attract anglers from all over the world.

Rafting Fishing

Popular Boating Lakes

What Utah's lakes lack in quantity, they make up in quality. Many of Utah's most popular lakes are set against stunning orange-red sandstone canyons or surrounded by snow-capped mountains. Here are a few of the best lakes the state has to offer for boaters. 


Whether you prefer the speed of powerboating or the tranquility of kayaking, Utah has a wealth of watersports. The aforementioned lakes are perfect for flatwater boating and jet-skiing but there are also plenty of adventurous rivers for rafters, canoeists, paddleboarders, kayakers and tubers.


The Green River in Moab is perfect for a day outing or as the start of a multi-day rafting trip. The Gates of Lodore along the Green River drifts through incredible towering canyons through the desert. Paddling along the San Juan River in Bears Ears National Monument offers historical side hikes to Ancestral Puebloan dwellings more than 2,000 years old. If rushing whitewater is your preference, Cataract Canyon along the Colorado River in Canyonlands National Park is a thrilling run through the heart of the desert. Schedule a whitewater adventure with one of Utah’s many guides.

Stand-Up Paddling

Lake Powell in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is one of the most popular spots in Southern Utah to go paddleboarding. You can also easily rent boards at Bullfrog Marina, not far from Salt Lake. The warm waters of Sand Hollow State Park Reservoir provide the chance to paddle around beautiful red rocks. If you are looking for a mix of beautiful scenery and calm waters then try Jordanelle Reservoir in Jordanelle State Park. Finally, the iconic Great Salt Lake in Northern Utah provides SUP'ers with incredible views, especially in the early morning and evenings as the sun rises and sets. You can find rentals at or near all the lakes and reservoirs. 


In addition to whitewater, the Green River is also a great spot for a leisurely float through Gray Canyon surrounded by Utah’s beautiful desert and canyon landscape. The Provo River, in both Utah and Wasatch counties, is a mellow float through Class I and II rapids making it perfect for families. For a little more adventure, the Weber River, which begins in Northern Utah’s Uinta Mountains, flows a bit more swiftly and makes for a great day with teenagers and older groups. Finally, the two-mile float down the Virgin River in Zion National Park will keep you cool on a hot summer’s day. There are a variety of shops that provide rentals and shuttles to make your day as relaxing as a float should be.  

Gates of Lodore

Photo: Jeremiah Watt

Things To Know

  • Depending on where you boat, raft or paddle, you may need a permit. Some areas may require an application process or lottery, so be sure to plan ahead so you don’t miss out on getting one.  
  • Always wear safety flotation devices when boating. 
  • Boats that have been to Lake Powell must be cleaned and cleared of invasive quagga muscles. Please thoroughly decontaminate your boats before bringing them to other lakes. Most popular lakes will inspect your vessel before allowing it into the water. 
  • It's easy to get dehydrated on Utah's lakes and rivers. Be sure to drink enough on hot summer days (16 ounces per hour is a good standard).  
  • Larger vessels must be properly registered with the state of Utah. 
  • Be sure to follow Leave No Trace principles whenever you are on the water or anywhere outside.  
  • Finally, the weather can change quickly in Utah. Always check the forecast before heading out on the water.


6 Days

Sandstone Spires & Swimming Holes

Walk the paths of dinosaurs and descend through 200 million years of geologic history in this six-day road trip from Vernal to Kodachrome Basin. It’s a kid-friendly desert drive in search of dino tracks, slot canyons and swimming,

Dinosaurs, Hiking, History and Heritage, Kid-Friendly, Scenic Drives/Road Trips


See Itinerary


3 Days

Fishing Between The Mighty 5

Anglers overlook Southern Utah as a fishing destination inappropriately assuming red rock country and fish don’t get along. Big mistake.

Adventure, Camping & Backpacking, Fishing, Kid-Friendly, Scenic Drives/Road Trips, Solitude


See Itinerary

Previous Image Next Image