The Low-Down on Joe's Valley

Climbing a boulder above the emerald waters of Cottonwood Creek in Joe's Valley
Climbing a boulder above the emerald waters of Cottonwood Creek in Joe's Valley Louis Arevalo
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Sheltered on the eastern slope of the Wasatch Plateau is the secluded mountain basin of Joe’s Valley. Surrounded by pine-covered peaks up high and grassy meadows filled with blooming wildflowers down low, the Joe’s Valley Reservoir attracts people interested in exploring the miles of OHV trails, hunting, fishing, boating, and camping. Below the dam, on the west side of the reservoir, where the emerald water escapes by finding its way through the craggy sandstone canyon below, people come to angle for fish and climb the varnish-streaked, sandstone boulders.

What Makes It Great

The dam for Joe’s Reservoir was completed in 1965 creating a destination for great fishing. The beautiful water is home to cutthroat, rainbow, lake, and tiger trout as well as tiger muskie and Utah chub. Trophy splake (a splake trout is the hybrid cross between a female lake trout and a male brook trout) up to 50 pounds have been known to have been caught. Motor boating and water skiing are also popular summertime activities along with canoeing.

The emerald water of Joe's Valley Reservoir attract boaters and anglers, Utah
The emerald water of Joe's Valley Reservoir attract boaters and anglers, Utah Louis Arevalo

Joe’s Valley falls within the expansive Manti La Sal National Forest’ s Arapeen OHV Trail System, a network of over 350 miles of designated paths for off-road vehicles. This trail network contains offerings for all abilities ranging from dirt forest roads to 50” wide ATV routes. The surrounding trails are also popular for horseback riding, mountain biking, and hiking.

Free primitive camping may be found down canyon from the reservoir and east of the reservoir. The forest service does maintain a formal campground near the shores of the reservoir. This campground has several sites that offer tables, fire rings, lake views, and shade. Restrooms and drinking water are available, and the road and parking areas are paved.

Bouldering in Joe's Valley is world class. Here a man climbs a boulder above the emerald waters of Cottonwood Creek, Utah
Bouldering in Joe's Valley is world class. Here a man climbs a boulder above the emerald waters of Cottonwood Creek, Utah Louis Arevalo

The quality sandstone bouldering in Joe’s Valley is not to be missed. Countless boulders toppled at some earlier point in time now rest throughout the area surrounded by ancient ponderosa pines. Down canyon from the reservoir, the main concentration of established boulders lie in Left Fork, Right Fork, and the New Joe’s areas. Most bouldering zones have short approaches that range from easy to rocky. Hundreds of aesthetic routes range from huecoes, slopers, cracks, slab, and steep, overhanging problems. All of these hold quality rock and good texture.

What You’ll Remember

Catching a fish so large your friends will never believe it even when you show them the picture; that last crimp needed to get you up and over the beautiful sandstone problem you have been working; cruising around on your ATV and taking in all the sites.

Looking out across Joe's Valley Reservoir, Utah
Looking out across Joe's Valley Reservoir, Utah Louis Arevalo

Who’s Going to Love It

Whether you come for the fish, boats, trails, or boulders the seclusion of Joe’s Valley is sure to help recharge your outdoor spirit.

GPS Coordinates, Parking, and Regulations

GPS Coordinates: Varies depending upon what activity you choose to do

Parking is available at overlooks and fishing areas around the lake. Please note that upper elevation roads leading from Joe’s Valley are unpaved and impassable until late spring or early summer.

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