Utah Paddling: Must-Visit Spots

Last summer, we briefly cut through Utah in between our travels in Wyoming and Idaho. We got out our Hala SUP boards in a few spots, and we were sure glad that we did. There was a strong heat wave near the end of July, so finding some reprieve from the sun was necessary.

Henefer to Taggarts

The first paddleboard spot we checked out was the Henefer to Taggarts section of the Weber River. It was about an hour’s drive from the Pine Creek Campground, where we were staying near Heber City. What a fun section of the river! There were fun class 2+ rapids all along the 5-mile run and plenty of spots to stop, play around, and practice eddy maneuvers.

Sharing the River

Several other people were taking advantage of the water on the tubes. The scenery along the waterway was terrific. The river flows along the interstate, and we received honks of encouragement in a few spots where we became visible to the cars passing by above. There was one portage due to a bridge being replaced this year, but it was well-marked and easy to navigate.

Surf Session

The river flows beneath the roadway in a spot, and it was a unique experience to catch a wave under the road among the concrete pylons. As I waited at the put-in for my husband to come back from running the shuttle, I put on my snorkel and did laps, walking up a short way and then floating back down.

StompBox Saves the Day

Having the retractable fin came in handy in a few spots, but for the most part, there was plenty of water to feel safe in as I practiced catching small waves. We went on the river on a weekday and encountered quite a few folks enjoying a float themselves. It didn’t feel overcrowded at all, but this would not be the run for you if you are looking for solitude.

We liked chatting with our fellow river enjoyers but would be sure only to go on a weekday if we went back in the future as I imagine weekends draw a bigger crowd. This is only one small stretch of the beautiful Weber River. I hope we can check out its other reaches another time.

Utah has a special holiday unique to the state called Founders Day, so we had to pack up our RV and move from Pine Creek Campground to nearby Jordanelle Reservoir Campground, where there was a vacant spot for the busy holiday weekend.

Jordanelle Reservoir

The weekend was supposed to be hot, hot, hot, and we were pleased to be stationed near the water, where we could paddle out and jump in as needed. The Jordanelle Reservoir is near Park City, so we also took an evening to see the sites there.

At the campground, it was a short walk with our boards to get down to the water. It would feel so warm up on land, but once we got on SUPs, we felt comfortable and only swam periodically.

We paddled the lake every day that we were there, exploring the shoreline and setting foot on the islands that were accessible via paddleboard from the swim beach area. There were quite a few people out on motorboats, but the lake had designated areas for paddle crafts only, and the shoreline was also safe for paddling.

Utah Paddling: A Well-Kept Secret

I hadn’t really associated Utah with paddling opportunities; however, we only barely scratched the surface with these two gem locations, so I now know that there are likely many other adventures to be had in the state.


Emily Barnes discovered SUP 12 years ago as a way to cope with drug and alcohol addiction. She has since tried whitewater SUP, ocean surfing, and has even explored bioluminescent bays in Puerto Rico.

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