11 Best Lakes in Utah

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By David Em
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While the Great Salt Lake is the most well-known, find out what the other beautiful lakes in Utah are and why you need to see them.

1. Great Salt Lake

Great Salt Lake shoreline with a mountain in the distance.
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The Great Salt Lake is the most well-known lake in Utah, and it covers 1,700 square miles, which makes it the largest saltwater lake in the Western Hemisphere. It’s also a remnant of the massive prehistoric Lake Bonneville. It used to cover most of Utah.

Related: Complete list of national parks in the U.S.

It’s located 20 minutes west of Salt Lake City and Ogden. The lake is beautiful and has 10,000 miles of shoreline. It’s also shallow, as the depth averages between 20 and 30 feet.

There are two state parks on the lake, Antelope Island State Park and Great Salt Lake State Park. Antelope Island is known for its clean white sand beaches, while Great Salt Lake State Park offers a marina.

When it comes to fishing, you may be able to find fish in the freshwater inlets. However, you won’t find fish anywhere else in the lake because it’s too salty for fish to survive. The lake doesn’t have any outlets, and it only loses water through evaporation.

Swimming, sunbathing, kayaking, sailing, hiking, mountain biking, and bird watching are all activities people love to do when visiting the Great Salt Lake.

Its salinity is about 12% saltier than the ocean. This also means you’ll easily float in the water. Plus, there’s a freshwater shower for you to rinse after your swim.

2. Lake Powell

Lake Powell and canyons in Utah.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

Lake Powell stretches from northern Arizona to southern Utah. The part of the lake in Utah is considered North Lake Powell. The human-made lake was created when the Glen Canyon Dam was constructed to hold back the waters from the Colorado River in 1963.

It has almost 2,000 miles of shoreline, covers more than 162,000 acres, and is surrounded by stunning sandstone cliffs. Lake Powell is a popular place for boating, water activities, hiking, camping, and seeing landmarks.

During your visit, be sure to experience Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Rainbow Bridge National Monument, Bullfrog Bay, Cathedral in The Desert, Clear Creek Canyon, Escalante River Arm, Iceberg Canyon, and Hite Crossing Bridge.

Before you head to Lake Powell, it’s important to note that the access points can change due to the water level. The National Park Service will have information about closures and alerts.

Lake Powell is worth the visit. The scenery is beautiful, and it’s not your typical lake. Kayaking or boating through the twists and turns of the waterway makes it a great experience.

3. Utah Lake

City with Utah Lake and mountains in the background.
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Utah Lake is a shallow freshwater lake in the Provo-Orem area. It’s the largest freshwater lake in Utah, as it covers 148 square miles. At almost every angle, you can see magnificent mountains as the backdrop. It’s a beautiful sight.

There are various reasons that people are drawn to Utah Lake. It’s popular for water activities, fishing, viewing wildlife, camping, hiking, photography, and a scenic place to take a stroll.

Being a shallow lake, you must be careful. The average maximum depth is around 14 feet. However, you may find pockets of deeper water. As long as you’re aware of the shallowness of the water, you’ll be able to have a fun experience at Utah Lake.

4. Bear Lake

Sunset at Bear Lake in Utah.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

Bear Lake is a natural freshwater lake on the border of Utah and Idaho. It’s known for its turquoise-blue water and is called the Caribbean of the Rockies.

The lake is about 109 square miles. Half of it is in Utah, and the other half is in Idaho. Suspended minerals are what cause the water to be so blue.

Bear Lake has three main parts, Bear Lake State Park Marina, Rendezvous Beach, and the Eastside. The eastern part of the lake is home to First Point, Cisco Beach, Rainbow Cover, North and South Eden.

At Bear Lake, you’ll have many options for activities. You can go boating, swimming, kayaking, camping, hiking, and fishing. It’s one of the best lakes in Utah, and you must cross it off of your bucket list.

5. Flaming Gorge Reservoir

Aerial view of Flaming Gorge Reservoir.
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Flaming Gorge Reservoir is located on the border of Utah and Wyoming. It’s one of the most popular attractions in Utah, as it’s a peaceful and serene place with plenty to do.

It has a surface area of 42,020 acres, and it’s within the Ashley National Forest. You can hike, bike, camp, swim, paddleboard, and boat.

Fishing is also huge at Flaming Gorge Reservoir. Its surface water is cool throughout the summer, making it a trout-friendly place. It’s famous for having large trophy lake trout with a good number of them at least 30 pounds.

Flaming Gorge Reservoir offers some of the best views in Utah, and there are many activities for you to enjoy.

6. Quail Creek Reservoir

Reservoir and sandstone formations at Quail Creek State Park.
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Quail Creek Reservoir is located in Hurricane, Utah. It’s in Quail Creek State Park and is well-known for having warm water that covering 600 acres. The water is one of the warmest in all of Utah.

It’s most popular for boating and fishing. However, Quail Creek Reservoir is also excellent for swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding, camping, and having a picnic.

Quail Creek Reservoir is popular year-round because the winter climate is mild. Along with many activities, the reservoir features stunning hills around it. You’ll have a fun time with amazing views.

7. Jordanelle Reservoir

Jordanelle Reservoir with mountains in the background.
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Jordanelle Reservoir is 40 minutes east of Salt Lake City. It’s close to Park City, and it features gorgeous scenery, as there are mountains all around it.

Hailstone, Rock Cliff, and Ross Creek are the three main areas, as it’s a part of Jordanelle State Park. You can go hiking, camping, and biking.

It’s mainly a place where people love to boat, fish, and camp. Anglers will find bass, trout, and perch.

However, there’s also a pebbly beach area. The water is pretty cold. So, brace yourself before jumping in. Aside from the beach, there’s a playground, making it great for families.

8. Deer Creek Reservoir

Deer Creek Reservoir with mountains behind it.
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Deer Creek Reservoir is about half an hour south of Jordanelle Reservoir. It’s located in Deer Creek State Park and is a popular place to camp because of the scenic views.

At Deer Creek Reservoir, you can go boating, fishing, swimming, and enjoy water activities. The water is cool, which makes it a great place to cool off on a hot day. While you’re in the water, you’ll see the beautiful backdrop of Mount Timpanogos.

Another fun activity to experience is the zip line. There are traditional ziplines along with a rope course. It peaks at 3,900 feet and as fast as 65mph.

9. Mirror Lake

Mirror Lake in Utah with mountains and trees.
Photo courtesy of Canva.

Mirror Lake is set 10,400 feet up high in the Uinta Mountains. It’s an hour and a half east of Salt Lake City and is serene. Around it, you can see other magnificent mountains, and there’s a campground, as well.

At Mirror Lake, you can swim, go kayaking, paddle boarding, canoeing, and fishing. Being in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, you can also hike, bike, camp, view wildlife, and go horseback riding.

The campground has 64 single and double campsites. They’re equipped with picnic tables, tent pads, and campfire rings with grills. There are also 14 equestrian sites on a separate loop.

10. Tony Grove Lake

Tony Grove Lake, mountains, and trees.
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Tony Grove Lake is located two hours north of Salt Lake City near the Idaho border. The lake also has a campground, and they’re situated on the Logan Canyon Scenic Byway. It’s also set just over 8,000 feet above sea level.

At Tony Grove Lake, you can enjoy water sports and activities. It’s serene, scenic, and is an excellent place to see wildflowers. The campgrounds are well-maintained, and there are great trails of different difficulties.

11. Strawberry Reservoir

Waves at Strawberry Reservoir in Utah.
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Strawberry Reservoir is Utah’s most popular spot for fishing. You’ll find large rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, sockeye salmon, and Utah chub. Plus, it gets more than 1.5 million angling hours each year.

It’s located east of Provo and about an hour and a half southeast of Salt Lake City. Strawberry Reservoir covers just over 26 square miles and is about 200 feet deep.

Around Strawberry Reservoir are trails and campgrounds. While it’s not the best place to swim, you can go hiking, biking, and camping.

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Featured image courtesy of Canva.

Portrait of David Em.

About David Em

David Em is the founder of Nola & Luna Travel, the destination for travel advice and inspiration. He launched Nola & Luna Travel to share expert advice, useful tips, unbiased reviews, and inspiration about destinations across the globe.