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.
Bear Lake's deep turquoise waters and soft, sandy beaches offer an unexpectedly Caribbean vibe. The lake is part of Bear Lake State Park, located on the north-central border with Idaho. The State Marina is the launching point for many boaters, though several other entry points are available for paddlers and jet skiers. Bear Lake's natural waters are colored by calcium carbonate deposits, making this one of the most unique bodies of water in the state.
Deer Creek Reservoir
Mount Timpanogos watches over this 2,965-acre reservoir. Deer Creek State Park is a wonderful destination for a day outing of paddling, picnics and perhaps a little bit of fishing. There are two marinas where visitors can rent boats. Jet skiing and water skiing are also popular. Late summer is a good time to catch the changing of the seasons beginning in the high country from the lower warmth of the lake environs.
When the sun sets over Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area, you will see how this northern reservoir earned its fiery name. Brilliant hues of red, orange and yellow illuminate ancient canyon walls decorated with outcrops of hardy green shrubs. Boating is popular, especially for fishermen. And the area offers some of Utah's best paddling trails, with wakeless sections designated for paddlers. Flaming Gorge is a great family destination, thanks to camping and lodging options right on the lake (including boat-in campgrounds). Keep an eye out for ancient petroglyphs hidden in the rock.
This relatively new reservoir and state park — it was completed in 1995 by damming the Provo River — is a favorite of powerboat enthusiasts, jet skiers and wakeboarders/water skiers. Thanks to its convenient location between Salt Lake City and Park City, it's a popular weekend getaway. Like many other locations in the Heber Valley, views of the rugged foothills and mountain backdrops abound.
Lake Powell is the ultimate flatwater adventure. Set in the incredible desert wilderness of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Lake Powell's placid waters explore a seemingly endless matrix of canyons, rock towers, arches and beaches. A shoreline of 1,960 miles makes this an incredible place to kayak or canoe and camp. Many visitors choose to enjoy several days on the water in a rented houseboat, a great way to combine luxury and adventure (there are more than a few perfect cliff-jumping spots that can be reached by houseboats!)
"Utah's whitewater rivers are world-class and its reservoirs and lakes are some of the biggest in the country."
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.
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.
Read the Stories
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An Old Favorite Fishing Hole at the Flaming Gorge Reservoir
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Get to Know Echo State Park
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How to Take a Kayak & Camping Trip at Yuba State Park
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Kayak and Stand Up Paddleboard Lake Powell
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Lakeside Near Torrey: Three Ways
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Lost and Found in Desolation Canyon
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Paddle Among Red Rocks and Waterfalls at Gunlock Reservoir State Park
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Paddling the Caribbean-Blue Waters of Bear Lake
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Panguitch Lake's Literal "Big Fish"
People have been traveling to fish at Panguitch Lake for a long time. Legend has it this popular high mountain fishery in Southern Utah was named by the Paiute people who once frequented the area and it translates to mean “big fish.”
Remote Adventure on the Green River
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Scenic Boat Tours of Lake Powell
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Sun and Fun Below Mount Timpanogos: Explorations of Deer Creek State Park
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The Most Scenic Trophy Trout Destination
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Wild Heber: Close-to-Home Adventure
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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,
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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.
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