I remember being little and sitting on the mesh trampoline between the two hulls of my older brother’s catamaran. Looking out onto the rippled water of Deer Creek Reservoir, it was an experience I could not appreciate as I do now. Above me was the mainsail, full of wind. We were moving swiftly across the water. With me were my nephews; it was their father who was at the helm. We all had crew duties — on a sailing vessel everyone is employed and there are no idle hands.
From time to time, I see others sailing on Deer Creek and I wonder, how many of those boats are crewed by new sailors? How many new sailors are beginning a love affair with a mainsail at broad reach?
No Need for A Motor
The excitement of sailing with the wind is not the only way to interact with water in the Heber Valley. There are so many other things to do on the many lakes and reservoirs in Wasatch County that don’t require a powerboat.
The peacefulness of sailing can be rivaled by the quiet simplicity of stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) or the serenity of kayaking. For the more adventurous, kite boarding on Deer Creek is the way to go.
Whether by wind or your own power, exploring the waters of Deer Creek, Strawberry and Jordanelle reservoirs can be tranquil and rejuvenating, exciting and adventurous, or something in between. One thing they have in common: these activities are fun and fantastic exercise that activates arm, core and leg strength.
Get Your Paddle On
Canoes, kayaks, SUPs and other similar craft are available to rent from at least one service at each reservoir. When calling each park, ask about parking or recreating fees, rentals and where to best get on the water. The staff will have all the information you need to plan your activities at the Jordanelle, Strawberry and Deer Creek Reservoirs this summer.
While you can take a SUP, kayak or canoe almost anywhere, it often involves walking through stones and rocks while carrying an awkward load. If you’re new to water sports, eliminating that awkward variable can make these activities a little more accessible, which is why the Jordanelle has a boat ramp specifically for these activities.
Paddling a kayak or SUP is fairly natural and it becomes even easier and more graceful over time. Sailing, however, is something that requires hands-on learning from a mentor.
Thankfully, Sail Park City — our local sailing school on the Jordanelle Reservoir — will take you on the water as a novice. They can teach you what you need to know to start sailing on your own.
Sailing is part technical, part experience. Compared to hopping on a SUP or a kayak, sailing is more time-consuming but worth the investment. Your experience in the long term is determined by how much you commit to it.
Catch Some Air
Sometimes, it is the adrenaline rush you crave — and local kiteboarders take to the water on windy days to satisfy such cravings. They charge along the choppy water, in tow of their kite, jumping off waves and flying immeasurable distances before contacting the water’s surface again. It is exhilarating to watch.
If you stop to spectate, chances are you will see kiteboarders with varying degrees of skill, as both seasoned kiteboarders and beginners share the water. And if you’re interested in learning to kiteboard, you’re in luck! There is a school right on Deer Creek called Uinta Kiting.
Experience the Water
Dipping the paddle into the waters of Jordanelle Reservoir, a light splash hits my feet. I make a stroke and then move the paddle to the other side of the board. Then another stroke. Gliding on the dark, glassy water and raising the paddle in the air, I let my momentum carry me. Looking up to Mount Timpanogos, the very summit is lighting up as the sun rises. The sounds of fish jumping and my own breath will be the only sound at such an early hour. The view will be spectacular.
And I think to myself, we are all so very lucky to live here.
Where to Start
Local Kayak and SUP Rentals
Uinta Recreation: 801-613-0288
Wilderness Access Outfitters: 435-602-4022
Deer Creek Island Resort: 435-654-2155
Jordanelle Rentals & Marina: 435-615-7397
Jordanelle State Park Marina & Boat Rental: 435-615-7397
Strawberry Bay: 435-548-2261
Kiteboarding and Sailing Instruction
Uinta Kiting: 435-647-6676
www.uintakiting.com (Deer Creek Reservoir)
Sail Park City: 435-631-2202
www.sailpc.org (Jordanelle Reservoir)