The Best Lakes in Utah Guide: And Where to Find Them

The Best Lakes in Utah Guide

The Best Lakes in Utah Guide: And Where to Find Them

Utah is home to some of the most gorgeous and unique scenery in the world. Along with the red rock and pristine mountain ranges come some incredible lakes to add to the mix. We’re going to dive into the 10 best lakes in Utah, giving you the inside scoop on what makes each one special and what you need to know to make the most of your visit. Whether you’re looking for a high mountain lake for fabulous fishing or looking to take the family out for a day of pleasure boating, we’re here to showcase the best lakes in Utah. 

  1. The Great Salt Lake 

The Great Salt Lake is a natural wonder that’s as unique as it is vast. Located in the northern part of the state, this lake is famous for being the largest saltwater lake in the Western Hemisphere. Its high salinity levels create a buoyant swimming experience, making it a popular spot for floating and relaxation. 

Visitors to the Great Salt Lake often find themselves mesmerized by the stunning sunsets that paint the sky in vibrant hues of pink, orange, and purple. Birdwatching is another favorite activity here, as the lake is a crucial habitat for migratory birds, including the graceful American avocet and the striking-eared grebe. 

Before heading to the Great Salt Lake, it’s good to know that the water’s saltiness can be tough on your skin and belongings. Rinse off after swimming, and protect any metal items from corrosion. Additionally, while the lake’s vastness is impressive, it’s wise to stay informed about the water levels, as they can fluctuate significantly from year to year. 

The Great Salt Lake

  1. Lake Powell 

Lake Powell is a top favorite among Utah’s lakes, and it’s not hard to see why. Straddling the border between Utah and Arizona, this massive reservoir is part of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and is famous for its incredible scenery. With more than 2,000 miles of shoreline, loads of canyons, and crystal-clear water, Lake Powell is like a playground for water lovers. 

One of the coolest things about Lake Powell is the chance to explore its many nooks and crannies by houseboat. Renting a houseboat is a popular way to get up close and personal with the lake’s beauty, giving you the freedom to find your own little piece of paradise.

The water is calm, and the views are spectacular, making it a great spot for a houseboat adventure. If camping is more your style, Lake Powell has got you covered with several campgrounds along the shore, like Wahweap, Bullfrog, and Halls Crossing. These spots have all the basics you need for camping, whether you’re in a tent or an RV. And if you’re into power boating, you’re in for a treat. Lake Powell’s wide-open spaces and long stretches of water are perfect for speeding around, water skiing, and wakesurfing. It’s a blast for both seasoned boaters and newbies. 

Getting to Lake Powell is pretty straightforward, with the most popular spots being Wahweap Marina near Page, Arizona, and Bullfrog Marina in Utah. These places have everything you need, like boat rentals, places to stay, and food, making them great starting points for your Lake Powell adventure. 

Lake Powell

  1. Bear Lake 

Bear Lake, affectionately known as the “Caribbean of the Rockies” for its striking turquoise-blue waters, is one of the crown jewels among the best lakes in Utah. Straddling the border between Utah and Idaho, this natural freshwater lake is a scenic marvel. Getting to Bear Lake is a breeze, with major access points via the U.S. Highway 89 from the south through Logan 

Canyon and from the north through Montpelier, Idaho. The drive itself is part of the adventure, offering beautiful views of the surrounding landscape. What sets Bear Lake apart is its unique color, a result of the calcium carbonate in the water, and its variety of recreational activities. The lake is a haven for water enthusiasts, offering excellent conditions for powerboating, jet skiing, and sailing. The surrounding area is equipped with ample amenities, including campgrounds, resorts, and rental shops for all your water sport needs. The towns of Garden City in Utah and Montpelier in Idaho provide convenient access to dining, shopping, and lodging options, making it easy to plan a multi-day getaway. 

One of the highlights of Bear Lake is North Beach, a spectacular sandy beach that draws visitors for its clear waters and stunning vistas. It’s an ideal spot for swimming, sunbathing, and picnicking, and the gentle slope of the beach makes it perfect for families with children. 

  1. Mirror Lake 

Nestled high in the Uinta mountains, Mirror Lake is a prime example of the serene high mountain lakes of Utah. This alpine lake is best known for its crystal-clear waters and jaw-dropping surroundings. Unlike many other lakes in the area, Mirror Lake prohibits the use of motorized boats, ensuring a tranquil and unspoiled environment perfect for fishing, paddleboarding, and canoeing. 

Surrounded by dense forests and towering peaks, Mirror Lake offers some of the best fishing opportunities in Utah’s lakes, with abundant populations of trout. The lake is easily accessible via the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway, a scenic route that provides stunning views of the Uinta Mountains and the opportunity to spot wildlife. Along the byway, there are numerous trailheads for hiking and exploring the surrounding wilderness. For those looking to spend a few days in this picturesque setting, the Mirror Lake Campground provides convenient access to the lake and nearby trails. 

  1. Flaming Gorge Reservoir 

Flaming Gorge Reservoir is a standout among the best lakes in Utah. Located in the northeastern corner of the state, it extends into Wyoming, offering a playground for outdoor enthusiasts. The reservoir gets its name from the red sandstone cliffs that line its shores, creating a fiery contrast with the blue water that’s truly a sight to behold. 

What makes Flaming Gorge Reservoir special is its diverse range of activities. It’s a paradise for anglers, renowned for its trophy-sized trout and abundant fishing opportunities. Whether you’re casting from the shore or trolling from a boat, the reservoir’s clear, cold waters are teeming with fish. For those who crave a bit of speed and excitement, powerboating is a popular pastime on the reservoir too. The wide-open spaces and long stretches of water provide the perfect conditions for high-speed boating, water skiing, and wakesurfing. 

Often referred to as a mini Lake Powell, Flaming Gorge Reservoir offers a similar blend of stunning scenery and water-based fun but in a more intimate setting. The reservoir is surrounded by scenic drives, hiking trails, and camping spots, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the area.

Flaming Gorge Utah

  1. Pineview Reservoir 

Pineview Reservoir is located in the beautiful Ogden Valley, surrounded by the quaint towns of Eden and Huntsville. To get there, just take a short drive from Ogden via Highway 39. It’s an ideal destination for families looking for a quick getaway to enjoy some outdoor time together. With its stunning views of the surrounding mountains, Pineview Reservoir offers a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city. 

Visitors flock to Pineview Reservoir for its variety of recreational activities that cater to all ages. The lake is perfect for boating, with plenty of space for water sports and tubing. If you prefer a quieter pace, the calm waters are also great for paddleboarding and kayaking. Anglers will find the reservoir a great spot for fishing, with abundant bass, crappie, and the elusive tiger muskie lurking beneath the surface. 

Before you pack up for a family day at Pineview Reservoir, it’s handy to know a few things. There are several accessible beaches and picnic spots around the lake, with Cemetery Point being a popular choice for its amenities like restrooms and picnic tables. The reservoir can be quite popular, especially on weekends and holidays, so it’s a good idea to arrive early to snag a good spot. 

  1. Utah Lake 

Utah Lake, located in the heart of Utah Valley near the city of Provo, is one of the largest freshwater lakes in the state. It’s a popular destination for locals and visitors alike, offering a wide range of recreational activities. The lake is known for its size and shallow depth, which makes it a great spot for boating, fishing, and bird watching. 

One of the unique features of Utah Lake is its diverse ecosystem, which supports a variety of wildlife, including several species of fish and birds. It’s a great place for anglers to try their luck at catching catfish, walleye, and white bass. The lake also has several marinas and public access points, making it easy to get out on the water. 

Before heading to Utah Lake for the day, it’s important to be aware of the lake’s conditions. The water levels can vary throughout the year, so it’s a good idea to check the current status before planning your trip. Additionally, because of its shallow depth, the lake can get warm in the summer, which can lead to algae blooms. It’s always smart to check for any health advisories before swimming or participating in water activities. 

Utah Lake

  1. Fish Lake 

Fish Lake is tucked away in the high mountains of south-central Utah. It’s located in the Fishlake National Forest and is easy to get to via Highway 24. This lake is a big draw for anglers and nature lovers alike, thanks to its stunning surroundings and plentiful fish. 

The lake is famous for its fishing, especially for trout, perch, and the prized Mackinaw (lake trout). The best times to visit are from late spring to early fall when the fish are biting. But Fish Lake isn’t just about fishing. It’s a beautiful place for hiking, boating, and spotting wildlife. The clear, calm waters are perfect for a peaceful day of kayaking or canoeing. Even in winter, Fish Lake is a great destination.

It’s known for ice fishing, and the frozen lake offers a unique fishing experience. You can also enjoy snowmobiling and cross-country skiing in the area during the colder months. If you’re planning a trip, remember that Fish Lake is over 8,800 feet above sea level, so it can get chilly, and you might feel the altitude. Make sure to check the local rules for fishing and other activities before you go. 

  1. Jordanelle Reservoir 

Jordanelle Reservoir has quickly become a favorite among all who visit. Located just a short drive from Park City and Heber City, and about 40 minutes from Salt Lake City, it’s easily accessible for a day trip or a weekend getaway. 

The reservoir is a hotspot for boating which means you’ll see plenty of people wakesurfing, tubing, and jet-skiing. Its clear waters also make it a great place for swimming and fishing, with trout and bass being the most common catches. For those who prefer to stay on land, the surrounding Jordanelle State Park provides plenty of options for hiking, picnicking, and camping. 

  1. Strawberry Reservoir

Strawberry Reservoir, located about 65 miles southeast of Salt Lake City in the Uinta National Forest, is a great destination for anglers and outdoor enthusiasts. Strawberry Reservoir is one of the state’s premier fishing spots, particularly famous for its abundant populations of rainbow trout and cutthroat trout. 

The reservoir is not just a haven for fishing; it also offers a variety of other recreational activities. Boating, camping, and hiking are popular pastimes here, with several campgrounds and boat ramps available for visitors. Before heading to Strawberry Reservoir, remember to check the weather and road conditions, especially if you plan to visit during the colder months, as the area can experience heavy snowfall. It’s also a good idea to familiarize yourself with the local fishing regulations and obtain the necessary permits. Additionally, due to its elevation of approximately 7,600 feet, visitors should be prepared for cooler temperatures and take necessary precautions for high-altitude conditions. 

The Best Lakes in Utah Guide Conclusion 

Utah’s lakes are truly unique and amazing. If you’re gearing up for an outing to one of these stunning lakes, make sure you’re well-prepared with the right gear and clothing. General Army Navy Outdoor is your go-to destination for all your outdoor needs.

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