Are you curious to explore the best lakes in Utah? Prepare to be amazed as we unveil the top destinations where you can immerse yourself in the crystal blue waters amidst the picturesque mountains of the Beehive State.
When people think of lakes in the USA, states like Alaska, Minnesota, or California may take the spotlight, but Utah proudly showcases a remarkable array of both fresh and saltwater vacation havens.
With over 2,000 lakes and reservoirs, Utah boasts an impressive collection of water bodies, each possessing its unique character and allure.
Utah has some really totally awesome lakes like Great Salt Lake stands tall, where you can spend a delightful afternoon in one of the world’s largest saltwater swimming holes.
But there are also some lesser known hidden gems in terms of Utah lakes like Blue Lake or Mirror Lake, perfect for those seeking a more laid-back day, dipping their toes in the refreshing water.
So, are you ready to embark on an unforgettable journey through Utah’s best lakes? Start planning your summer adventures now with the help of this handy guide.
17 Best Lakes in Utah You Must Visit!
1. Lake Powell
The Great Salt Lake, situated in Utah, is renowned as the largest saltwater lake in the Western Hemisphere, covering an impressive expanse of 1,700 square miles. It is a significant remnant of the ancient Lake Bonneville, which once spanned most of Utah’s landscape.
Just 20 minutes west of Salt Lake City and Ogden, this captivating lake boasts a stunning 10,000 miles of shoreline. Despite its grandeur, the lake’s depth is relatively shallow, averaging between 20 and 30 feet.
The Great Salt Lake is home to two state parks, namely Antelope Island State Park and Great Salt Lake State Park. Antelope Island is famous for its pristine white sand beaches, while Great Salt Lake State Park offers a convenient marina.
Though fishing is possible in the freshwater inlets, the lake’s extreme salinity prevents fish survival in other parts. As there are no outlets, water loss occurs solely through evaporation.
Visitors to the Great Salt Lake can revel in a variety of activities such as swimming, sunbathing, kayaking, sailing, hiking, mountain biking, and bird watching, all amidst the lake’s picturesque setting.
The lake’s salinity measures about 12% saltier than the ocean, which results in effortless floating for swimmers. For added convenience, a freshwater shower is available to rinse off after your swim, ensuring a refreshing experience.
2. Utah Lake
Located in the Provo-Orem area, Utah Lake is a charming and shallow freshwater lake, proudly holding the title of the largest of its kind in Utah, covering an area of 148 square miles. Offering a stunning backdrop of majestic mountains from almost every angle, the scenic beauty of the lake is truly captivating.
Utah Lake attracts visitors for a multitude of reasons, drawing them in with its array of water activities, fishing opportunities, wildlife viewing, camping spots, hiking trails, and fantastic photography opportunities. It serves as a picturesque destination for a leisurely stroll, immersing visitors in its natural splendor.
Due to its shallow nature, caution must be exercised when navigating the waters of Utah Lake. With an average maximum depth of around 14 feet, there might be pockets of deeper water. However, as long as one is aware of the lake’s shallowness, an enjoyable and fun-filled experience awaits.
3. Lake Powell
Lake Powell, spanning from northern Arizona to southern Utah, is divided into the Utah portion known as North Lake Powell. This vast human-made lake came into existence in 1963 with the construction of the Glen Canyon Dam, serving as a reservoir for the Colorado River.
Encompassing an impressive expanse of over 162,000 acres and boasting nearly 2,000 miles of shoreline, Lake Powell is encircled by breathtaking sandstone cliffs, creating a mesmerizing natural panorama. This remarkable destination is beloved for its abundance of recreational activities, including boating, water sports, hiking, camping, and the chance to witness iconic landmarks.
Among the must-see attractions are the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, the Rainbow Bridge National Monument, Bullfrog Bay, Cathedral in The Desert, Clear Creek Canyon, Escalante River Arm, Iceberg Canyon, and Hite Crossing Bridge. Each of these spots offers unique experiences and picturesque vistas to explore.
However, keep in mind that access points to Lake Powell may vary due to fluctuations in water levels. Stay informed about any closures or alerts provided by the National Park Service before planning your visit.
Lake Powell stands out as an exceptional destination worth every traveler’s time. Its striking scenery, featuring stunning cliffs and meandering waterways, sets it apart from the typical lake experience. Embrace the opportunity to kayak or boat through the enchanting twists and turns of this water wonderland, creating unforgettable memories during your visit.
4. Bear Lake
Bear Lake, a natural freshwater gem, straddles the border of Utah and Idaho, known far and wide for its mesmerizing turquoise-blue water, earning it the nickname “Caribbean of the Rockies.”
Encompassing a generous area of approximately 109 square miles, the lake is equally divided between Utah and Idaho. The striking blue hue of the water is a result of suspended minerals that contribute to its captivating coloration.
Bear Lake comprises three prominent sections, each offering its unique charm – the Bear Lake State Park Marina, the inviting Rendezvous Beach, and the picturesque Eastside. On the eastern side, you’ll discover notable spots like First Point, Cisco Beach, Rainbow Cove, and North and South Eden, adding to the lake’s diverse appeal.
With Bear Lake as your playground, a plethora of activities awaits you. Take delight in boating, swimming, kayaking, camping, hiking, and fishing amidst the scenic surroundings. Renowned as one of the finest lakes in Utah, it undoubtedly deserves a spot on your bucket list of must-visit destinations.
5. Quail Creek Reservoir
Situated in Hurricane, Utah, Quail Creek Reservoir finds its home within the confines of Quail Creek State Park, celebrated for its expansive 600-acre area of warm waters, making it one of Utah’s most renowned destinations for pleasant aquatic experiences.
The reservoir’s warm embrace draws enthusiasts of boating and fishing, establishing it as a premier location for these activities. However, Quail Creek Reservoir’s appeal extends beyond these pursuits, offering opportunities for swimming, kayaking, paddleboarding, camping, and delightful picnics by its shores.
Thanks to its mild winter climate, Quail Creek Reservoir welcomes visitors year-round, providing a haven for adventure and leisure amidst the stunning hills that grace its surroundings. Embrace the chance to bask in marvelous vistas and enjoy a fulfilling time filled with excitement and wonder.
6. Flaming Gorge Reservoir
Nestled along the Utah-Wyoming border, Flaming Gorge Reservoir stands as one of Utah’s most beloved attractions, offering a tranquil and idyllic escape with a myriad of exciting possibilities.
Encompassing a vast surface area of 42,020 acres, this resplendent reservoir finds its abode within the embrace of the Ashley National Forest, providing a picturesque canvas for various activities like hiking, biking, camping, swimming, paddleboarding, and boating.
Fishing takes center stage at Flaming Gorge Reservoir, where the cool surface waters maintain a trout-friendly environment throughout the summer. The lake is celebrated for its impressive trophy lake trout, many weighing at least 30 pounds, making it a haven for anglers seeking an exhilarating catch.
Amidst this breathtaking setting, Flaming Gorge Reservoir boasts some of the most captivating views in Utah, ensuring a memorable experience filled with delightful adventures for every visitor to cherish.
7. Jordanelle Reservoir
Located just 40 minutes east of Salt Lake City, Jordanelle Reservoir is in close proximity to Park City, boasting stunning panoramic views with mountains encircling its pristine waters.
Comprising three main areas, namely Hailstone, Rock Cliff, and Ross Creek, Jordanelle Reservoir is an integral part of Jordanelle State Park, inviting visitors to engage in delightful activities such as hiking, camping, and biking.
While the reservoir offers a diverse range of recreational pursuits, it is particularly beloved for boating, fishing, and camping. Anglers can revel in the opportunity to catch bass, trout, and perch in the clear waters.
A pebbly beach area offers a spot for relaxation, but do be prepared for the refreshing chill of the water before taking a plunge. The reservoir also caters to families with a playground, making it an ideal destination for a memorable outing together.
8. Tony Grove Lake
Tony Grove Lake, positioned approximately two hours north of Salt Lake City, lies in close proximity to the Idaho border, making it a serene retreat within nature’s embrace. Situated along the Logan Canyon Scenic Byway and perched at an elevation just over 8,000 feet above sea level, the lake is an inviting haven for outdoor enthusiasts.
Engulfed in scenic splendor, Tony Grove Lake offers a plethora of water sports and recreational activities to delight in. Amidst the tranquility of the surroundings, one can revel in the sight of vibrant wildflowers adorning the landscape, adding to the allure of this picturesque location.
The lake’s accompanying campgrounds are meticulously maintained, ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable camping experience. Moreover, the area boasts an array of splendid trails of varying difficulty levels, promising enthralling hikes for all skill levels.
Tony Grove Lake truly stands as a captivating destination for those seeking solace amidst nature’s beauty and an unforgettable adventure in the great outdoors.
9. Deer Creek Reservoir
Situated just a brief half-hour journey south of Jordanelle Reservoir, Deer Creek Reservoir finds its home within the picturesque Deer Creek State Park, enticing visitors with its splendid vistas, making it a popular camping destination.
At Deer Creek Reservoir, a delightful array of water activities awaits, from boating and fishing to invigorating swims in the cool waters, offering a refreshing escape on hot days. As you frolic in the water, the majestic Mount Timpanogos graces the horizon, providing a breathtaking backdrop to your aquatic adventures.
For an adrenaline-pumping experience, consider trying out the thrilling zip line activity available here. The reservoir features both traditional ziplines and a rope course, reaching a peak height of 3,900 feet and boasting speeds of up to 65 mph, promising an exhilarating and unforgettable ride.
Deer Creek Reservoir truly offers a delightful blend of natural beauty and exciting recreational opportunities, making it a must-visit destination for outdoor enthusiasts seeking an idyllic escape.
10. Strawberry Reservoir
Strawberry Reservoir, a fishing paradise, holds the distinction of being Utah’s most sought-after angling destination. Abundant with large rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, sockeye salmon, and Utah chub, the reservoir attracts over 1.5 million anglers each year, eager to cast their lines and reel in impressive catches.
Situated to the east of Provo and approximately an hour and a half southeast of Salt Lake City, Strawberry Reservoir spans just over 26 square miles, boasting depths of about 200 feet, creating a perfect aquatic habitat for diverse fish species.
Surrounding the reservoir, you’ll discover a network of inviting trails and well-equipped campgrounds, catering to outdoor enthusiasts seeking hiking, biking, and camping experiences.
While swimming might not be ideal, the picturesque setting and myriad recreational opportunities make Strawberry Reservoir a cherished destination for nature lovers and fishing enthusiasts alike.
11. Mirror Lake
Nestled at a breathtaking elevation of 10,400 feet in the Uinta Mountains, Mirror Lake offers a serene and captivating retreat, just an hour and a half east of Salt Lake City. Surrounded by majestic peaks, this pristine lake serves as a picturesque backdrop for a memorable camping experience.
Mirror Lake caters to an array of water activities, allowing visitors to indulge in swimming, kayaking, paddleboarding, canoeing, and fishing. Additionally, being a part of the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, the area offers a wealth of opportunities for hiking, biking, camping, wildlife viewing, and even horseback riding, ensuring a dynamic and enriching outdoor experience.
The campground at Mirror Lake boasts 64 single and double campsites thoughtfully equipped with picnic tables, tent pads, and campfire rings, complete with grills for enjoyable cooking sessions. Additionally, for equestrian enthusiasts, there are 14 separate equestrian sites in a designated loop, ensuring comfort and convenience for every type of camper. Mirror Lake truly stands as an enchanting destination where nature’s wonders and outdoor adventures unite harmoniously.
12. Great Salt Lake
When considering a visit to the lakes of Utah, the Great Salt Lake unquestionably takes center stage. And rightfully so, as its massive size spans almost 1,700 square miles, proudly holding the title of the largest saltwater lake in the Americas.
The lake’s significance cannot be overstated, as it embraces the valley that hosts the capital city of Utah, offering a plethora of activities and attractions. From camping at Great Salt Lake Park to exploring the vibrant food scene and diverse entertainment options in nearby Salt Lake City, the area presents an array of exciting experiences.
Moreover, the region boasts a rich tapestry of wildlife and a truly unique landscape, making it a vital part of the natural world. Witnessing over 10 million birds migrating through the area annually, the Great Salt Lake plays a pivotal role in supporting the diverse avian population. Don’t miss the chance to visit Antelope Island, a must-see destination within Salt Lake City, offering captivating tours to observe bighorn sheep, bison, and antelope.
For a vacation immersed in waterfront bliss, the Great Salt Lake proves to be an ideal choice, with swimming, boating, and fishing ranking among its top attractions. All in all, it undoubtedly holds the crown as the best all-around lake in Utah, beckoning visitors with its sheer beauty and endless possibilities for adventure.
13. Panguitch Lake
Perched high atop the Markagunt Plateau within Dixie National Forest, you’ll discover the serene beauty of Panguitch Lake. Renowned as one of Utah’s prominent fishing destinations, anglers flock here to reel in abundant catches of tiger and rainbow trout.
For an unforgettable day trip, consider venturing from Bryce Canyon or Zion, taking in the wonders of Utah’s high desert region while relishing the tranquil ambiance by the water.
A word of caution: Presently, algae blooms pose a challenge, making swimming off-limits, and urging caution if you plan to keep any fish. Adhering to these guidelines will help preserve the lake’s ecosystem and ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all.
14. Fish Lake
Prepare for an unforgettable angling adventure as you venture to one of Utah’s most iconic fishing havens – Fish Lake. Though it might sound cliché, this alpine gem is an absolute paradise for fishing enthusiasts, beckoning with its shimmering waters and abundant aquatic treasures.
Nestled at an impressive altitude of nearly 9,000 feet, Fish Lake captivates with its stunning natural beauty and promises an array of sought-after catches, including salmon, rainbow trout, and perch. Even during the frosty months, locals find delight in ice fishing on this frozen jewel.
But Fish Lake isn’t just about fishing; it offers a splendid array of recreational activities that cater to all adventure seekers. Glide across the tranquil waters on a boating excursion, embrace the thrill of mountain biking on scenic trails, and immerse yourself in the great outdoors by camping under the star-studded skies.
As you embark on your journey to Fish Lake, be prepared for an awe-inspiring experience where the wonders of nature unfold before your eyes. This picturesque haven promises more than just exceptional fishing; it is a haven for adventurers and nature enthusiasts alike, offering a plethora of activities to create lasting memories.
15. Blue Lake
Blue Lake is a renowned destination for scuba diving enthusiasts in the Beehive State. While it may not boast the vastness of some other lakes, its fame lies in the intriguing underwater wonders it holds.
Hydrologists and adventurous divers alike are drawn to this geothermal pool, where they can plunge to depths of nearly 60 feet. The water remains pleasantly warm throughout most of the year, adding to the allure of this extraordinary dive site.
Diving into the depths of Blue Lake unveils a mesmerizing world, complete with artificial marine life and a natural hot spring, creating a unique and captivating experience. For serious scuba divers seeking an unconventional and unforgettable journey, Blue Lake is an absolute must-visit in Utah. Get ready to explore the mysterious beauty hidden beneath the surface and immerse yourself in the wonders that await below.
16. Pineview Reservoir
Embarking on a day trip from Salt Lake City? Look no further than Pineview Reservoir – one of Utah’s best lakes, offering a wealth of aquatic delights. Whether you seek a refreshing swim, thrilling boating escapades, serene kayaking or paddleboarding, or even invigorating skiing, Pineview has it all.
With most of the lake being dog-friendly, you can bring your furry friends along for the adventure. For those yearning to extend their stay, the Anderson Cove Campground offers a perfect lakeside retreat.
For fishing enthusiasts, Pineview Reservoir is a treasure trove, home to various aquatic species like tiger muskie, bass, and perch, providing ample opportunities to reel in impressive catches.
Whether you’re a solo traveler, a fun-seeking group, or a family yearning for quality time together, Pineview Reservoir caters to all with its wide range of activities. Don’t hesitate to plan your day trip to this captivating destination, promising a delightful experience for all who venture there.
17. Sand Hollow State Park
Nestled just northeast of St. George, Utah, lies Sand Hollow State Park, home to a relatively young but rapidly gaining popularity – Utah Lake (technically a reservoir) that has only been around for about two decades.
Despite its short existence, this desert oasis has swiftly emerged as a prime destination for outdoor adventures in Southern Utah. Enveloped by the enchanting red sandstone hills, Sand Hollow State Park entices both locals and thrill-seeking travelers to partake in a myriad of activities, such as camping, kayaking, and fishing amidst the alluring deep blue waters.
However, the park’s main attraction lies in embarking on exhilarating rides with ATVs, traversing the steep inclines around the lake. For a distinctive and adrenaline-pumping experience, don’t miss the opportunity to explore the breathtaking scenery in this unique way, adding a touch of excitement to your adventure at one of the best lakes that Southern Utah has to offer.
Essential Advice for Exploring Utah’s Finest Lakes:
- Stay Informed: Keep a close eye on water quality reports, as some Utah lakes have experienced algae bloom warnings in recent times. Prioritize your safety and well-being by being aware of any potential concerns.
- Winter Exploration: If you plan to visit Utah lakes during the winter months, ensure the roads leading to your desired destinations are open and safe for travel, especially in mountainous regions. Stay updated on weather conditions to have a smooth and enjoyable experience.
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