The Secrets of SUP on Utah's Jordanelle Reservoir

Catch sunset on Jordanelle Reservoir for an unforgettable SUP experience.
Catch sunset on Jordanelle Reservoir for an unforgettable SUP experience. Louis Arevalo
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Nestled in the rolling mountains north of Heber City sits the beautiful Jordanelle Reservoir. Built in 1995, this reservoir and state park have quickly become a popular destination for water sport enthusiasts including the fast growing sport of stand up paddling, SUP.

What Makes It Great

SUP traces its origins to the surf instructors of Hawaii, who would stand up on their boards to teach. But it wasn’t until the mid-2000s that the sport of using a long-handled paddle to propel you on water while standing on a long surfboard really took off. The recent explosion of stand up paddle boarding can be partly attributed to the quickness with which it can be learned. It’s not uncommon for a first time paddler to be cruising the flat water of lakes, rivers, and oceans within hours of standing up.

SUPing has even been added to many fitness routines. It requires a balance that engages the entire body, and if you go for speed, it can add a cardiovascular factor. This fitness component combined with the relaxing experience of skimming the surface of beautiful waters makes for wonderful outing.

A pup adds extra fun to a SUP on Jordanelle Reservoir.
A pup adds extra fun to a SUP on Jordanelle Reservoir. Louis Arevalo

What You’ll Remember

The large wake-free zone at the Hailstone Recreation Area of Jordanelle State Park is the ideal spot to learn. This area is the premier spot at the park and is a great place to spend the day. Here you will find cabanas, beach access, camping and picnic areas, restrooms, showers, marina store, proshops, and an eight-lane concrete boat launch. You can find SUP rentals here too.  Within moments of parking the car you can be gliding across the lake’s glassy surface. After you get the hang of it you can even explore the thin string of islands just off the east shore of the marina.

If you are looking for a quieter experience, launching from the Rock Cliffs Area on the east side of the lake where the Provo River enters can be ideal. This area of the lake is a known hotspot for bird and wildlife watching. As you quietly paddle from the shore keep an eye out for hawks and eagles soaring the thermals above.

For an additional post-paddle workout, you can also hit the perimeter trail on foot or mountain bike. For an unforgettable experience, aim to be on the lake during sunrise or sunset. Watching the surrounding Wasatch Mountains light up during the golden hour is spectacular.

Jordanelle Reservoir is an excellent spot for SUPpers of all levels.
Jordanelle Reservoir is an excellent spot for SUPpers of all levels. Louis Arevalo

Who’s Going to Love it

If you have an appreciation for mountain lakes and fantastic scenery, a SUP session at Jordanelle is not to be missed. People of all ages and ability are sure to find the sport very welcoming. You can take off on a solo mission or bring the entire family. Some folks even bring their dogs along for the voyage.

Parking, Directions, and Regulations

Jordanelle State Park requires a day fee. You are not required to wear a personal floatation device (PFD) while you are paddling, but you have to have one board.

The reservoir is approximately 35 miles east of Salt Lake City. To reach Hailstone, the main boat ramp, take I-80 east to US 40 south, then take the Mayflower exit (number 8). To access the nature center at Rock Cliff, take I-80 east to US 40 south and turn left onto U 32 east. Travel about 7.5 miles, then turn left on Rock Cliff Road.

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