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Kayaking In Utah (the 7 Best Spots!)

Mark Armstrong
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With as many as five national parks (the Mighty 5), the Beehive State can be a fantastic place for outdoor activities. And with beautiful lakes and scenic rivers, canoeing or kayaking in Utah can be one of the best ways to experience this state.

Travel through millions of years of history and experience stunning scenery in some of these great paddling spots.

Woman paddling a kayak on Lake PowellPin

The Best Places To Kayak In Utah

1: Bear Lake

Bear Lake is located in North-Eastern Utah, with the southern half of the lake being in Utah and the northern half being in Idaho. 

Bear Lake State Park can be an ideal place to launch, with kayak rentals being available at the park’s marina. There are also lots of beaches and parking, making it easy to launch. You’ll also find campgrounds.

One of the main features of this freshwater lake is its beautiful turquoise color thanks to the calcium carbonates in the water. This can be a great place for beginners and experienced paddlers, as there is a lot of space, easy launching and the water is generally calm.

How to get there:

From Logan, follow the US-89 (which is also the Logan Canyon Scenic Byway) to Garden City. The marina is in the north of Garden City.

2: Lake Powell

Lake Powell is part of the Colorado River and is located within the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. It has almost 2,000 miles of shoreline between Utah and Arizona, with some of the world’s most stunning natural rock formations, including the famous Rainbow Bridge.

This can be a beautiful place to kayak, with lots of canyons and coves to explore. There are also opportunities to camp overnight anywhere on the lakeshore, up to 14 days without fees or a permit.

You can launch from Bullfrog Marina, where you can also rent kayaks. Lake Powell can also be an ideal place for kayak fishing, as long as you have either a Utah or Arizona fishing license.

How to get there:

From Provo, take the US-6 east to the I-70 west. Take the UT-24 west to the UT-95 south. Then follow the UT-276 to Bullfrog.

3: Green River

Kayakers at the Green River on a sunny dayPin
Courtesy: Bureau of Land Management on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The Green River can be a great place to paddle for all levels, although there are some sections that have up to Class III rapids. The river flows through scenic and remote landscapes, with interesting rock formations and deep sandstone canyons.

A good spot to launch is at Green River State Park, where there is a boat ramp and parking (with a fee). From here the river flows through Labyrinth Canyon and Stillwater Canyon as it heads south to meet the Colorado River.

This trip can take around a week from Green River State Park to the take-out at Mineral Bottom in Canyonlands National Park. This is around 122 miles. You can also take-out on the Colorado River, at Spanish Bottom.

You can rent kayaks or arrange a tour at several outfitters in Moab. Many outfitters also offer shuttle services via jet boat. A permit is required for paddling Green River.

How to get there:

The town of Green River is located just off I-70, around 50 miles north of Moab. The kayak launch is at Green River State Park.

4: Utah Lake

Utah Lake is the largest freshwater lake in Utah and lies just west of Provo, so it can be easy to get to. There are kayak rentals available in Provo and you can launch at Utah Lake State Park. There is also a concession store inside the state park that offers kayak rentals.

This can be a good place to spend the day paddling and can be ideal for novices. There are also great views of the Wasatch Mountains from the lake, and spectacular mountain scenery in every direction.

You can paddle along the shoreline from the state park and head north to Vineyard Beach, just south of Linden Marina, where there’s a public boat ramp.

How to get there:

Utah Lake can be accessed from Provo. Head west on West Center Street in downtown Provo to head to Utah Lake State Park.

5: Provo River

The Provo River flows around 71 miles from the Uinta Mountains, through Provo, and into Utah Lake. The river features scenic backdrops as it flows through canyons and past mountains, with views of Mount Timpanogos.

The river features mild rapids and riffles but it can be suitable for all skill levels.

If you’re a beginner, you may feel more comfortable paddling with a guide. There are outfitters in Provo that offer tours, as well as kayak rentals, with one on East Provo Canyon Road, not far from the put-in at Deer Creek State Park.

The put-in is located at the bridge of Lower Deer Creek Road and the take-out is at Vivian Park.

How to get there:

From Provo, head north on the US-189 (East Provo Canyon Road) and follow it to Deer Creek Road. The launch is at Deer Creek State Park Lower River Area.

6: Red Fleet Reservoir

Red Fleet Reservoir is located entirely within Red Fleet State Park in northeastern Utah. One of the main attractions at Red Fleet is the dinosaur tracks that date back to around 200 million years ago.

You can hike along the Dinosaur Trackway, which is located on the eastern shores of the lake. Or, preferable for paddlers, you can kayak across the reservoir to see the numerous dinosaur footprints up close.

The lake features flatwater and fantastic scenery, including lots of inlets for exploring and natural sandstone rock formations. Kayak rentals are available at the entrance to the state park, where there is also a campground and day-use area with a boat launch.

How to get there:

Red Fleet State Park is located just off the US-191, around 10 miles north of Vernal.

7: Mirror Lake

Mirror Lake is located in the High Uintas at the gateway to the High Uintas Wilderness. It can be a great place to spend a couple of days, with a campground on the lakeshore and stunning mountain scenery and forests all around.

The lake is calm and can be ideal for all skill levels. Motorized boats are not allowed so it can be a peaceful spot to paddle and good for fishing.

There is a boat ramp at the day-use area near the campground, which is inside the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest. You can also hike right around the lake, on a flat trail loop that’s around 3 miles long.

Daily or weekly kayak rentals are available in towns and cities west of Mirror Lake, including Oakley and Provo.

How to get there:

From Kamas, head east on the US-150 (Mirror Lake Scenic Byway) to Mirror Lake Campground.

Are There Kayak Laws For Utah?

US Coast GuardPin

When you’re paddling in waters around Utah there are some regulations you should follow. However, these are just provided as a guide and you should do your own research for the rules where you plan to paddle.

Registration is not required for kayaks. However, you will have to register your boat if you add a trolling motor or a sail.
PFD is required for each person on a kayak. PFDs must be of a type approved by the US Coast Guard. They must also be the correct size for the wearer and be in a serviceable condition. PFDs must be worn on rivers.
Children under 13 must wear a PFD at all times while on board any kayak.
whistle is recommended (but not required) on a kayak or canoe less than 16 feet.
Boating Under the Influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal and applies to motorized vessels in Utah.

Utah Kayak Rentals And Tours

We’re Done! Now It’s Your Turn…

Now you’ve seen some of these remarkable paddling places in Utah, it’s time to plan your next adventure. Whether you’re after an epic river trip through canyons or you’d prefer a relaxing paddle on a glistening lake, you can find it in Utah.

Tell us about some of your favorite Utah kayaking locations. And remember to share this to help others find their next paddling expedition.

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