5 Excellent Places for Beginners to Kayak in Utah

By Elizabeth Barton

5 Excellent Places for Beginners to Kayak in Utah

Kris Wiktor/Shutterstock.com

There are few activities as exhilarating as kayaking. And the best news? The activity is accessible for all. You don’t have to be an expert, and you don’t even have to be a self-titled “adventurer” to feel relaxed out on the water. In Utah, there are plenty of locations for all levels of kayaking. If you still need to learn the basics, take a few lessons before heading out. The following spots are especially pertinent to those with little to no experience who want to give kayaking a try. 

1. Bear Lake, Garden City, UT

Bear Lake is a statewide summer vacation destination. Located near the Utah-Idaho border, the lake is sometimes referred to as the “Caribbean of the Rockies” because of its bright blue water. Although the lake is probably too big for extensive amounts of exciting kayaking, it’s perfect for beginners for that same reason. You can stay close to the shore, enjoy some sun, kayak along the lake’s edge, or explore further into the center of the lake if you feel up to it. And if you get tired of kayaking, Bear Lake and the surrounding valley are full of different recreational activities. Kayaking at Bear Lake is less of an adventure as it is a laid-back activity that the entire family can enjoy, which makes it appealing to those who are looking to try new things without making a huge commitment. 

2. Provo River

A favorite spot for Utahans, the Provo River is a beautiful current that descends the majesty of one of Utah’s most important and popular canyons. At different parts of the river, the water moves at different speeds, lending itself to a variety of activities such as fishing, tubing, and kayaking. In fact, professional kayaking and tubing expeditions and services dot the side of the river so that if you want to kayak or tube, you don’t have to worry about equipment or know-how. If you’re interested in using your own kayaks, or some that you rented, however, you are still free to use Provo River. And although there are some more intense spots along the river, a majority of the river is mellow and manageable. 

3. Lake Powell

Another classic Utah vacation spot, Lake Powell’s glowing reputation is far from chance. In fact, a large number of Utah families swear by the man-made lake’s calming magic. Adored by visitors from early spring until early fall, the lake nestles stunning red-rock alcoves and is part of the famed Colorado River. Technically located on the Utah-Arizona border, most Lake Powell guests stay on houseboats to enjoy the location’s wonders for weeks at a time. With such a beautiful, warm ambience, the lake is a great spot for recreational kayakers, who want to get closer to the water and geology than a traditional houseboat permits. And if kayaking makes you nervous, you’ll always be close to a nearby boat or shore, where you can quickly find your way back to hard ground. 

4. Green River

An iconic Utah river, Green River is not only home to delicious melons (yes, you read right), but also makes for breezy kayaking. Typically considered a great spot for rafting (and a hotspot for guided rafting tours), Green River is perhaps a bit more advanced than “beginner,” but depending on where you are on the river, there is water for every level of kayaker. If you’re looking for a quintessential Southern Utah red-rock experience, kayaking on Green River is pretty hard to beat, and if you try it once, you’ll inevitably return over the years so you can continue to feel the mist in your face and the sun on your back. And as your kayaking skills advance, you can explore different parts of the river with every visit. 

5. Tibble Fork Reservoir & Silver Lake

Both located up the serene American Fork Canyon, Tibble Fork Reservoir and Silver Lake are stunning freshwater lakes surprisingly close to civilization. While Silver Lake is more remote, Tibble Fork Reservoir (a man-made body of water) is only a 15-minute drive up the canyon, and closely resembles what you’d imagine at the base of the Swiss Alps. The size and accessibility of this particular lake makes it perfect for casual, beginner kayaking. And although the reservoir can be a bit crowded on a sunny day, there’s something unrivaled about kayaking in the morning hours on a large body of fresh, reflective water.  

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