The beautiful National Parks of northern Utah have become a popular tourist site over the past few years for those who enjoy stand up paddleboarding. Stand up paddleboarding, sometimes shortened to SUP, is derived from surfing. However, unlike surfing, the paddleboarder does not need to wait for a wave. Instead, they use a paddle to move. This makes paddleboarding perfect for places that do not naturally have large waves, and for people who want a more relaxed experience.
Tibble Fork ReservoirFor those interested in a relaxing and affordable experience, Tibble Fork Reservoir is a great option. At only $6 for a day pass, the price is quite affordable. The reservoir is known for its scenic views and calm waters and winds. This is a great option for those who are just starting out or simply want to take in a view without stressing about rough waves. For those who are camping, the Granite Flat Campground is nearby.
Tibble Fork recently got a few upgrades to make it even nicer for standup paddleboarders. In 2016 the park added a dock to make it easier to access and created a beach. The only downside is that Tibble Fork is no secret - it might be worth it to get there early or late in the day to avoid crowds. Still, for those looking to get started paddleboarding, Tibble Fork is a great option.
Jordanelle ReservoirJordanelle Reservoir is one of the most famous and popular in Utah. It is not only popular with paddleboarders, but also kayakers, swimmers, and others. Located only around 40 minutes from Salt Lake City, it also makes for a convenient getaway for those visiting the city. However, this also means that it is more crowded than some of the other options on this list.
There are several different areas that paddleboarders can enter the reservoir. One option is the Hailstone day-use area, which costs $10 on weekdays and $15 on weekends. Once in the reservoir, there are a few different places to go, including a no-wake zone for beginners. Jordanelle is a great option for those who are looking to get a little more experience and then venture out of the no-wake zone for more of a challenge.
Pineview ReservoirPineview is a great option for those who want to both paddleboard and fish (even at the same time!). The beaches also make for a great option if there are family members or friends who are not interested in paddleboarding. There are also areas reserved for swimming.
The scenery at Pineview is absolutely lovely, and since it boasts the warmest waters in Northern Utah it is easy to take some time to relax while paddleboarding or swimming to enjoy the view. There are also places where paddleboarders can get in for free.
Around an hour's drive from Salt Lake City, Pineview can get pretty crowded, so it is wise to get there early.
Willard Bay State ParkAnother warm water option is the Willard Bay State Park, located about 90 minutes from Salt Lake City off I-15. Willard Bay boasts some of the most extensive amenities of any park on this list, with dry storage, concessions, fish cleaning stations, restrooms with showers, and covered pavilions. The area is popular with birdwatchers as well as paddleboarders and fishers. The historic city of Ogden is also only about 12 miles away.
The mountains that surround Willard Bay make the location a uniquely enjoyable one to simply look at while paddleboarding. For those interested in fishing, the park is home to catfish, crappies, and smallmouth bass. However, before allowing a boat to be launched the park requires certification that it is free from any mussels.
Highland Glen ParkHighland Glen Park's Highland Pond is an ideal spot for beginning paddleboarders to get their feet wet. There is nowhere in the pond that is too far to swim to shore from (although there are no lifeguards). Inexperienced paddleboarders who go to Highland Glen will not be alone, as it is one of the most popular options for those new to the hobby.
The sandy beaches are great to take a break on or to just take in the view. The beaches also feature lots of options aside from paddleboarding, including a beach volleyball court, pavilions, and a playground for the kids. There are plenty of bike paths near the pond for those who want to branch out and enjoy multiple activities in the same area. The pond is populated with rainbow trout and channel catfish.
Highland Glen is also closer to Salt Lake City than many options on this list - it will only take a little over half an hour to get there from downtown.
Lower Provo RiverThis option stands out a bit from the others. Paddleboarding down a river is a different experience from a lake or pond. It is recommended to bring an inflatable paddleboard for this trip, since fiberglass boards may be damaged. This trip is recommended only for more experienced paddleboarders, and even then it is important to use a life-vest and paddleboarding leash.
The river sports small rapids, and at one point there is a bridge that some paddleboarders choose to portage around. For paddleboarders who are less experienced or just a bit nervous, there are guided tours available through local agencies. However, for more experienced paddleboarders, the river sports great scenery and an interesting challenge. When the river is calm, it can be a breathtaking and relaxing time to just float down the river and appreciate the scenery. Be aware that insuring paddleboards may not be possible for those who want to go out on the river.
Paddleboarding is a growing hobby that nobody should be afraid to give a try! For those who are considering getting started, the above options are a great place to start. Anyone who lives in Utah or is planning to take a vacation there should take a day to take advantage of all of the fun that can be had with standup paddleboarding.