Make A Splash On The Reservoir This Summer

SUP Stand up paddle board concept - Pretty, young woman paddle boarding on a lovely lake in warm late afternoon light

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.

Set Sail

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 (Deer Creek Reservoir)
Sail Park City: 435-631-2202
   (Jordanelle Reservoir)

What stands 11,749’ high, has a heart, a saddle, an emerald, a shack, and some goats?

If you’ve been in Heber for even a short time, you’ll know the valley’s pride lies in the great mountain that sprawls to the west where the sun settles each night. Mount Timpanogos creates a portion of the eastern wall of the Wasatch Front. Often folks claim we, here in Heber, reside on the backside of the great Timpanogos. We’d like to beg their pardon. They happen to be discombobulated, not realizing that we have the front seat to Timp’s right side. Of all the peaks in the Wasatch Mountain Range, the majestic summit is second in height only to Mt. Nebo. Each breathtaking foot is covered in alpine flora, fauna, and crag, while crystal clean water from white peaks, burbles over as falls, and meanders to rivers and streams.

Through The Year

Spring is when the falls of Timp and their gushing runoff are at their prime. Mount Timpanogos Trailhead in Aspen Grove, accessed on State Route 92, is the entry point to three sets of breathtaking waterfall hikes. Timpanogos Falls is made up of an upper and lower set of falls. Visiting both is approximately a 2.5-mile round trip hike. Stewart Falls and Scout Falls are also great options for late spring hikes.

Summer is the best time to beat the heat and get to the heart of the mountain. Timpanogos Cave National Monument leads tours deep into the geologic Timpanogos Cave System. In the depths of the cavern is a large stalactite known as the “Great Heart” of Timpanogos. Legends tell of two hearts joined at death to become one that now lies deep in the mountain.

Summer is also a great time for ambitious hikers and trail runners to reach the peak. But don’t forget your jacket — even in the summer months, the windy summit stays nice and cool. The trek begins at either Aspen Grove or Timpooneke trail. It careens through Mount Timpanogos Wilderness Area, where you may choose to take it slower and camp overnight, remembering there are no fires permitted. Another fun choice is to depart early and squeeze the full excursion into one day. These hikes are where you’ll discover the emerald of Timp — Emerald Lake. Just as a horse’s saddle is sweeping in shape, Mount Timp’s saddle is a sweeping field of boulders where the trail to the peak converges with the ridgeline. Keep your eyes open for the mountain goats, moose, and other wildlife among the profusion of wildflower colors. Marking the summit is an old surveyor shack.

Fall brings a chill to the air, and our trees take center stage. As the bright blooms fade, the deep hues of autumn steal the show. Be sure to take a drive. Throw in a picnic and your camera to make a day of the fully-paved, 20 mile Alpine Scenic Loop. Head out before October passes and our snow closes portions of the loop for the winter.

Winter may offer the best views of Mount Timpanogos from a distance. Adventure junkies sometimes choose to summit Timp in the winter with an ice ax and crampons. If you enjoy snowmobiling or snow biking, Wasatch State Park grooms 72 miles of trail throughout the winter months. They are also home to the 2002 Olympic Site contracted by the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation. This venue allows for Nordic skiing, a tubing hill, and snowshoeing at the base of Timp. Those of you who don’t feel like competing with yetis or Sherpas may choose other ways to enjoy winters with Timpanogos. Relax while you wind leisurely around the base aboard a railcar of the Heber Valley Railroad. Are you an artist? Find a perch in town to paint to your heart’s delight. Or, simply take it easy and get cozy with a warm drink while enjoying the view from your favorite place.

Whatever the season Mount Timpanogos with its high summit, heart, saddle, emerald, shack, and goats, is definitely worth visiting — even if it’s only from your front porch as you watch the sun settle behind Timps peaks.


Timpanogos Falls
1.9 miles |  moderate  |  dogs allowed  |  kid approved

Stewart Falls
3.4 miles |  moderate  |  dogs allowed  |  kid approved

Scout Falls
4.2 miles |  moderate  |  leashed dogs allowed

Aspen Grove Timp Summit
15.7 miles  |  difficult  |  dogs and horses allowed

Timpooneke Timp Summit
12.8 miles  |  difficult  |  dogs allowed  |  $6 fee, pay at

For kids:

The Junior Ranger Program
Available at Timpanogos Cave National Monument. Kids explore
the culture and natural history. There is an event every Saturday
at 10:00 am throughout the open season, May-early September.
Go to for more information.

Legend Of Timpanogos:

As with any good story, there are many variations to the Legend of Timpanogos. In fact, at least 12 recorded versions exist today. The legend is centered on the outline of a woman that can be seen in the peaks of the mountain, and the large stalactite called the “Great Heart” found inside the caves.

The legend is “Romeo and Juliet”-esque, featuring the Indian warrior Red Eagle and the beautiful Indian princess Utahna. While their exact roles and circumstances vary from version to version, the story goes that Utahna was chosen as a sacrifice to the gods to end the great drought. When she was about to jump off the cliffs, Red Eagle begged her not to end her life. Thinking Red Eagle was the great God of Timpanogos, Utahna went to the caves with him, and they fell in love.

One day, Red Eagle was injured by a wild animal — which proved he was human after all — so Utahna left to finish her sacrifice to the gods. After she jumped, Red Eagle found her and took her back to the caves, where it is believed their two hearts became one, forming the stalactite that is now called the Great Heart of Timpanogos. People say you can still see the outline of Utahna lying on top of the mountain.

(Courtesy of

For more information on Mount Timpanogos and Wasatch State Park visit