With three reservoirs, three state parks, and over 15 miles of prime river access, cooling off this summer is just a splash away! Read on to learn about all the water fun you can have this summer. Beat the heat in Heber Valley. Play safe and play all season long.
Swimming | Boating | Personal Watercraft | Fishing
One of the most accessible and easiest activities to do is swimming in any of the open waters throughout the valley. Along with it, enjoy boating, fishing, and an array of other lake recreation.
Jordanelle State Park & Reservoir: If coming from the Salt Lake or Park City areas, Jordanelle State Park and Reservoir is a great option with prime access from US Highway 40, ample parking, a large boat ramp area, onsite Jordanelle Marina, and lots of shaded picnic tables for day-use, as well as overnight camp sites. This dark skies certified state park is open year-round and has sandy beach areas for day-use, along with a swim-only section of the lake beach.
Deer Creek State Park & Reservoir: If traveling from the Provo or Orem areas, or farther southwest of Heber Valley, then Deer Creek State Park and Reservoir is an excellent destination for lake recreation. A variety of sport equipment and on-the-water boat rentals are available at Deer Creek Island Resort, including a full VIP boating program for those who wish to have a fully chartered on-water experience, complete with boat captain.
Be sure to explore the Rainbow Bay Aqua Park floating island obstacle course, great zipline course, and multi-level ropes courses all at Zipline Utah. And lunch or dinner are available at The Lakehouse at Deer Creek. Experience the delectable “Utah heritage cuisine” while you sit on the patio or belly up to the bar. The views will amaze you almost as much as the food!
Strawberry Reservoir: For those willing to travel an additional 20 minutes or so from Heber Valley, this pristine lake is located southwest of Heber City and is easy to access. Due to its location, the lake tends to be less populated with recreationalists in comparison to the lakes found closer to the Wasatch Front Mountain range. This reservoir is a fisher’s dream! With four marinas and paved boat ramps, visitors are easily outfitted for a fun day on the lake. And those looking to rent a boat or stay the night are in luck – Strawberry Bay Lodge & Marina can set you up for a day or multiple days of pure lake bliss.
Hike-In Lakes: Looking for something a bit more remote where you need to hike in to access it? We’ve got that too! Head up Guardsman Pass, a short, scenic drive in the valley, and park in the dirt lot on the north side of the road when you are near the summit. From the parking lot, you can hike up to Bloods Lake then another mile up to Lackawaxen Lake (pictured here). These pristine lakes are a perfect spot to cool off during the heat of the summer. The water in these natural lakes stays very cold and the area is dog-friendly.
Kiteboarding / Kitesurfing / Kiting / eFoiling
One of Utah’s best locations for kiteboarding is the northeast quadrant of Deer Creek State Park & Reservoir. People of all skill levels flock to this section of the lake to experience this adrenaline-pumping water sport. The athletes are fun to watch and even more fun to join.
Or try riding a flying surfboard (aka eFoiling) – the newest sensation in water sports. With no wind or waves required, this innovative board takes surfing to a whole new level.
However you like to cool off in the summer, playing in the cold, pristine water should be part of your fun. From boating to floating and rafting to soaking, be sure to make the lakes, streams, and waterfalls all part of the experience this summer.
River Rafting: An adventurous trip down the lower Provo River is just what you need this summer! High Country Adventure is the perfect outfitter for tubing, rafting, or kayaking. The class I – II rapids are perfect for everyone to enjoy (ages 3+) rafting down.
Kayaking & Tubing: If riding in your own kayak or inner tube is more your speed, the lower Provo River is perfect for that too! Local outfitter High Country Adventure can set you up with the gear you need, or you can bring your own if you are experienced with river kayaking and tubing.
Crater Float: That’s right… we said “Crater float!” This list wouldn’t be complete without including the infamous Utah Crater experience. This 10,000-year-old geothermal hot spring is in Midway, Utah at the historic and legacy Homestead Resort property. Float, swim, snorkel, or even scuba dive inside this cavernous hot spring. The water stays approximately 95 degrees F (35 degrees C) year-round. As the only warm-water scuba certification destination in the lower 48 states, this water activity is truly unique. Book a morning or evening SUP yoga session for a fun experience atop the water.
With over 15 miles of prime access to the Blue-Ribbon streams of Provo River, fly fishing is an excellent year-round activity in the Heber Valley. Whether fishing the Middle Provo or Lower Provo, the prolific fish populations make this area a dream come true for the avid fly fisher and even for the beginners.
New to the sport? Hire a guide to show you the basics and get you in the water and hooking a fish (or several!) Experienced at fly fishing? These local guides and outfitters can help you get that fish on the line. The fisheries are some of the most fished areas in the state and the fish can be a challenge to catch.
Hop in the car and drive along the scenic roads to visit some of these stunning natural waterfalls surrounding Heber Valley. Be sure to check road conditions in early summer to ensure scenic routes are open.
Cascade Springs: Along the Alpine Loop Scenic Backway, you will drive past the refreshing Cascade Springs natural area. This large artesian spring consists of a series of small waterfalls and streams that cascade down limestone terraces and pools into lush areas of vegetation. Approximately seven million gallons of water a day flows through the interlaced streams. Stop by to walk along the bridges, boardwalks, and paved pathways and explore this area.
Stewart Falls: Along the Alpine Loop Scenic Backway, you will also pass by the renowned Sundance Mountain Resort as you wind around the formidable Mount Timpanogos (2nd tallest peak in the state). From the resort base, you can take the chairlift up or hike up the easy/moderate trail to the breathtaking Stewart Falls (about 3.5 miles round-trip). Alternatively, you can park at Aspen Grove, inside National Forest Service land, to hike to the falls. The two-tiered falls is about 200 feet tall and is one of the more scenic and photogenic falls in northern Utah.
Bridal Veil Falls: Located in the scenic Provo Canyon Byway, the impressive, multi-tiered, 600-foot tall Bridal Veil Falls is easily visible from US Highway 189. A large paved parking lot is located on the south side of the road and offers picnic tables and paved paths to the base of the falls for easy access and leisure activities along the trail.
Provo River Falls: A bit farther of a drive, but worth every minute is the popular Mirror Lake Scenic Byway. This 55-mile one-way stretch of highway meanders through the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest area from Kamas up through the Utah/Wyoming state line. Hundreds of natural lakes spot this gorgeous mountain range, many located along the scenic byway. Two of more popular stops include Provo River Falls, a series of large and extraordinary waterfalls tumbling down jagged rocks and craggy surfaces; and the iconic Mirror Lake, after which the scenic byway is notably named.
As you’re planning that next lake visit, fishing trip, or river float, be sure to remember these tips for a safer and more pleasant experience.
- Life jacket: The familiar “click it” campaign doesn’t just apply to seatbelts. Life jackets save lives and are a must when on or in the water. Play safe this summer and wear a life jacket.
- Sunblock: Our high-altitude valley means cooler summer temps, but also means greater likelihood for a sunburn. Don’t let the cold water fool you. Lather up before and during a day of water fun. Your skin will thank you for it.
- Bug repellant: Although not a huge issue in comparison to warmer destinations, we do still have mosquitoes near areas of water, both moving and stagnant water. Be sure to pack the bug spray. It’s better to have it and not need it than the other way around.
- Stay hydrated: Even when spending a full day in the water, you can easily get dehydrated. Pack plenty of water for whatever fun activities you have planned and be sure to drink it up.
- Pay the fees: Know the areas you are visiting. Whether it be state parks, national monuments, forest service areas, or other fee-based destinations, be sure to pay for access and use. These fees help keep these spaces open, clean, and improved for years to come. Also, no one wants a ticket for not paying a nominal day-use or overnight fee. So pay attention to your location and pay any necessary fees.
- Pack it in, pack it out: Or even better, leave it better than you found it. Do the good deed and pick up litter when you see it. This includes cleaning up after your pets.
- Limited cell service: Reception can be spotty in the more remote areas of Heber Valley and beyond. Stop by the Heber Valley Chamber Visitor Center (475 N Main St) during our open hours to obtain area maps and information, including GPS-based maps that will help guide you in areas where there is no cell reception service. And stop by the Forest Service Stations for additional information, if you need it.
- Know the weather: Check the weather the day before and day of your planned trip and activities. Weather can change quickly in this area of the state, and you don’t want to be disappointed by traveling for an activity only to arrive and not be able to enjoy it.
- Plan ahead: If you are headed out on a busy weekend or holiday, know before you go! Check road conditions, road construction impacts, park capacity, etc. State parks update conditions on individual state park social media accounts. UDOT updates road conditions on its website. Be prepared so you can enjoy all your time to stay and play.
- Have a backup plan: Just in case, know what you can do for plan “B” or “C” if your primary activity doesn’t work out. If Deer Creek and Jordanelle Reservoirs are full on a Saturday morning, consider the short additional 20-minute drive to get to Strawberry Reservoir instead. If the aqua park is booked up, consider a tubing trip down Provo River or take a zip line ride over the lake. In Heber Valley, there’s so much to do that you’ll run out of time before you can do it all!
Located less than an hour from Salt Lake City International Airport, a short 25 minutes from the Provo/Orem area and Sundance Mountain Resort, and a mere 15 minutes from Park City, the beautiful mountain town of Heber Valley, Utah is an outdoor recreation mecca unlike anywhere else in the world. This charming valley has become a distinguished destination for day trips and overnight stays. The summer calendar is jam-packed, leaving you with lots of options to fill your itinerary. Check it out and come on up to this high desert, alpine valley!