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Exploring the great outdoors in Utah’s diverse landscape isn’t just exciting and scenic, it’s also good for your health. And if you’re looking for a new way to experience local nature while simultaneously benefiting your body and mind, you might want to pick up a paddle or two.
Better Health Channel claims kayaking or canoeing can improve your cardiovascular fitness, increase muscle strength, and practice meditation (provided you don’t try it with young children).
Even though the state remains in a drought, there are still plenty of opportunities to get out and enjoy a serene day on the water in your Utah kayak or canoe. So if you’re looking for a new place to paddle, fuel up the car and eat at your local Maverik, tie up your boat of choice and check out one of these exciting places.
For adventurers who aren’t afraid to have a little fun, the Colorado River in Moab is for you. Some runs offer whitewater thrills and aren’t meant for beginners, so make sure you have the appropriate certification (or go with a guide).
There are other, calmer stretches that aren’t as intense in case you’re going with a young family. Still, it’s probably a good idea to go with a professional river outfitter so you don’t end up re-enacting a scene from a Kevin Bacon and Meryl Streep movie.
For a helpful guide to the best kayaking/canoeing adventures on the Colorado River, check out the Discover Moab website.
The aptly named Mirror Lake is a beautiful getaway located in the upper Uintas that will give you the opportunity for peace, quiet, and introspection (as the name suggests).
If solitude is your thing, you’ll appreciate that the Wasatch-Cache National Forest does not allow motorboats on this lake. This makes this destination an ideal location for both seasoned and amateur paddlers.
It’s a 90-minute drive from Salt Lake City to the lake, but you won’t regret it for a moment as you take in the stunning views along the way.
Located at 10,400 feet above sea level, Google reviews recommend going in July or August as the higher temperatures compensate for the cold water.
Bear Lake State Park
When it comes to beautiful waters, nothing beats the bright, turquoise colors of Bear Lake. According to the State Parks website, the water gets its brilliant hue from the calcium carbonate in the water. There is also no shortage of space or water in this Utah lake, it is huge.
Sprawling across the Idaho state line, Bear Lake offers all the space and variety you could want as a kayaker.
Kayak Guru reports that Bear Lake “can be a great place for beginners and experienced paddlers alike, as there’s plenty of space, an easy launch, and the water is generally calm.”
There are several entry points into the park, depending on which direction you are coming from. Many of these entry points are even open all year round! Check the State Parks website to make sure the entry point you choose is open after October.
Oh, and don’t forget to grab an infamous raspberry shake at the end of the day!
The National Parks Service reports that several launch stations are still closed like last year, but the park is still open and allowing people and their boats to enter. With nearly 2,000 miles of shoreline, Lake Powell has some of the world’s best red rock formations, coves, canyons and cliffs to explore. As a bonus, you can stop and camp wherever you want for up to 14 days without having to obtain a permit.
Whether you’re a Lake Powell enthusiast or a beginner, exploring Lake Powell by kayak or canoe is one of the best ways to enjoy this special place.
Be sure to bring a waterproof bag for your phone, as you’ll want to take lots of pictures.
Smith and Morehouse Reservoir
Located a few kilometers from Kamas, this hidden gem is a wonderful place to spend a Saturday afternoon. It also doesn’t allow motorboats, so you’ll find mostly calm waters ideal for kayaking, paddleboarding and canoeing.
The picturesque views are really what sets this place apart from other kayaking spots near town.
There are several parking zones in Smith and Morehouse, however, each zone is small and fills up quickly on weekends. Be sure to arrive early to get a seat!
If you want to camp at the reservoir, you must make a reservation through Recreation.gov.
Tibble Fork Reservoir
If you can’t go to the Swiss Alps, bring the Swiss Alps to you! Tibble Fork Reservoir may not be an exact replica of a Swiss setting, but visitors say it’s pretty close.
Located just 15 minutes from American Fork Canyon, this man-made reservoir will quickly steal your heart and become a favorite rehearsal destination. The only downside is that if you visit on the weekend, you’ll probably have to share it with a lot of people who have already discovered this secret.
If you want to avoid the crowds as much as possible, venture into the canyon for another 15 minutes and you’ll enjoy a more serene float on Silver Lake Flat Reservoir. It’s just as pretty and generally less traveled as the gravel washboard access road deters some visitors.
Red Fleet State Park
Red Fleet State Park is for anyone who loves the idea of Lake Powell but isn’t crazy about the crowds. A highly underrated kayaking destination, the State Parks website says many local boaters even refer to this location as Little Lake Powell.
This desert oasis is located near Vernal, so not only are you in beautiful scenery, but you’re also close to rock formations, wildlife, caves, and dinosaur tracks.
The Red Fleet tank is not only gorgeous, but the water temperature isn’t too cold either. Compared to other state lakes and reservoirs, the 75-degree water in mid-August feels extremely refreshing, especially if you’re enjoying a quick swim after kayaking.
Start every Utah adventure with Maverik
Wherever you go, be sure to fuel up and grab some food at one of Utah’s Maverik locations. Right now, Maverik’s Enhanced Nitro Card lets you save 10 cents on every gallon, every day, with great value added benefits on its wide selection of tasty foods, beverages and snacks, including premium hardwood smoked meats in breakfast and lunch burritos, two-meat treat and made-to-order tacos, quesadillas and nachos.
To save on every gallon of gas and get special offers on Maverik’s freshly prepared BonFire foods, beverages and snacks, download the Maverik app to join the Adventure Club and activate your Nitro Card.