wind in Utah is a fickle yet seductive mistress, sometimes teasing
you to curses, sometimes spanking you silly,
but fulfilling your desires just often enough to keep you coming
back for another sesh. Sailing in Utah requires a plethora
of equipment, but the most useful is a large light short board
(say about 140 Ltrs) and a large sail (8.5-9.5).
It'll blow here from 9.5-way too much wind, and if
you want to sail it all, you'll be owning 3 boards and 7 sails,
a shortie, fullwet and dry suit. The good wind is storm front
driven so you've got to be able to get to the lake quickly. This means
you'll be carrying all your gear inside your van
all the time, and you'll be getting sick at (or just skipping
out of) work a lot. You'll also become a better Meteorologist
than most weather men.
high desert is sprinkled with reservoirs and lakes the
way a fruitcake is sprinkled with nuts and jellies. Some of the lakes
are pristine, and some have reflective properties much
like a fruit cake. Here are some of my faves.
THE BIG FOUR or maybe FIVE
#1 Rush is
Crank’n jibes on a 3.2 day
Lake, located 50 minutes West of SLC in the Rush Valley, South
of Tooele and West of Stockton, is a mainstay for hardcore Kite
boarders and a few tortured sailors.
Front driven South winds can go nuclear (3.2) in the Spring and Fall.
Listen for I80 closure due to SemiTruck blow overs and head to Rush
for a real spank sesh. North post frontal clearing winds tend to be
lighter than South but steadier. If there's water in it, Rush has
more Kitable & short board sailable days than any other lake in Utah. Plenty
of parking, right next to the water in the cow pasture. In Spring, a
3 ft deep
200 yard fetch, provides mainly flat water Kiting and Sailing. Water quality
appears to be improving as the cows now die and bloat several hundred
yards from the water (versus right at the beach in previous years).
Under windy conditions the cowpie and fine mud beach provide an additional
slippery challenge to the launch. 15 M Kite summer thermals are likely,
and can be enhanced by high pressure over Nevada.
lot of Windsurfers have moved one valley over to Grantsville
reservoir, because it has enough water to clear a
or better skeg.
Rush is currently (Summer 06) 6"deep. That's right folks,
inches not feet. The lake
was dry by Autumn 05 so get it while you can.
I-80 W toward RENO.
onto UT-36 via exit number 99 toward STANSBURY/TOOELE.
turn at convenience store at end of
Stockton next to large flag pole.
road over RR tracks and around lake to east side, then through cattle
Left on dirt wash opposite semi completed log cabin
Darren Fowler airs
up at Rush
Reservoir, located about 40 Miles from SLC has turned
into the delusional AM Windsurfers
Paradise. It's not tropical, and it's not really paradise, but
it is sailable many mornings when 10-20MPH
forecast in the SLC valley. Often the only potential for summer
sailing near SLC. The water is considerably
than Rush, and much deeper,
sometimes lasting the entire Spring, Summer and Fall seasons.
pottie and picnic pavilion amenities,
it's not a bad place if you're an early riser.
mi. W of Salt Lake City, 2 mi. S of Grantsville. Take 2100 South
Freeway to westbound I-80.
Turn off at exit 99 to Tooele/Stansbury
Turn right to Grantsville just before you reach Stansbury Park.
Drive through Grantsville to the last road to the left just before the
turn past town.
About 2 miles from town, take the first paved road to
Stay on the pavement and it will take you right up to the
Can You Say Smooooth Wind?
(smooth jibe) Griffiths
Lake is located 40 minutes South of SLC. Clearing winds from the
North can go near nuclear (3.9) in the Spring. North wind is the favored
direction at launches like Saratoga Springs Park. On a Southwest wind you can
also get good 5.5 rides at a place called Mile Marker 19. Kiteboarders
are starting to favor the Utah Lake South Sandy Beach ULSSB and
Lincoln beach for the
unobstructed launch. Rocky Point is no more, but the
park (also know by the old timers as Pelican Point) located about 2
miles south of the old Rocky point, can still provide good North wind
A North wind on Utah Lake is the smoothest, cleanest wind in the state.
Huge swell (6ft) can develop from the South and big swell (4ft) from
the North. For the never jibe types, the fetch is an enormous 7 miles
from Pelican Point and nearly 10 from Mile Marker 19. Don't try
it without a multiple buddy system and some emergency provisions,
they'll never find the body. Dead in the Summer, Fall can give good
7.5 thermals late afternoon.
There, Saratoga Springs Park
Take onto I-15 S. 17.46 miles
Merge onto BANGERTER HWY/UT-154 N via exit number 293 toward BLUFFDALE. 2.89 miles
Turn LEFT onto S REDWOOD RD/UT-68. Continue to follow UT-68. 10.40 miles
Pass Saratoga Springs City
Pass El Nautica Boat harbor and private launch
Left Turn 2 miles past El Nautica on the paved road in the new housing development
Drive past the (currently unmanned) Guard shack to a nice park and boat launch with good paved parking,
and a grassy rigging area
Getting There, MM19:
Same as above except stay on UT-68 past El Nautica boat club around Pelican Point 8 Miles
Look for green MM sign on left, and turn left at MM19 towards lake
Follow dirt road, then wash, to water.
Getting There SSB:
Take I-15 South bound past Provo to the second Springville exit.
exit has Walmart on the East and Cracker Barrel on the West.
the exit, head West for about 2 miles.
road will curve to the south, you'll pass some old white beehive boxes
on the east and then come to a "T" in the road.
right at the "T".
about 2 blocks and turn North by some farm houses.
you go over the canal you've gone too far.
you’re on the final road to the Beach.
road winds through the farms for about a mile then turns to the west
and changes to a dirt road for about 1/2 mile ending at the beach.
#3 The Place We All Learned
Casual planers on
Res; is located 55 minutes South East of SLC. 7.5 thermals in
the Spring, can be enhanced to 6.5 by approaching storm fronts. Gusty
afternoon Southwest wind blows up Provo canyon. A morning thermal
blows down the canyon providing good 5 MPH conditions for teaching
future addicts. Parking (at Island Beach State Park) can get fairly
cramped (and a little crazy) during the Summer because this is one
of the biggest party lakes in Utah. Clean water, lots of boat chop,
bikinis and a great deal of JetSki comedy, make for a couple of interesting
no wind afternoons in the Summer (don't forget your gear just in case).
Fall is an entirely different scene at DeerCreek. The "cold" (below
80) and the "huge wind swell" (like bigger than 12 inches) drives
all but the hardiest JetSkiers off the lake. Parking has become a
bit problematic since the "beach improvements" to this state park.
In the fall when the water is very low, you can (currently) drive
down and off the boat ramp to unload your gear, and then drive back
to the approved parking. The only people on the beach are lazy
afternoon boardheads and Kite boarders. Fall gives 6.5 - 5.5 gusty
Southwest thermals, which turn on like clockwork between noon and
3 PM. Best bet at DeerCreek is to pull up at noon (the water will
be glassy), have a beer, eat some lunch, rig your 7.5 on floaty short
board and wait for the therm. It can last for several hours but is
more likely to last about 90 minutes. It's always the best when it
first comes up so be ready.
Take I-80 E towards Heber. 27.35 miles
Merge onto US-40 E via exit number 148 toward HEBER/VERNAL. 13.39 miles
Drive through Heber City and take W RIVER RD/CR-3130. Continue to follow W RIVER RD to DeerCreek
Right turn at Island Beach for island beach launch or follow road around lake to get to Sailboat beach near Dam
# 4 The Cure for the Summer
Preair launch smile
Creek Res 90 minutes Northeast of SLC in Wyoming (about 12 miles
due south of Evanston, Wy.). This can be the only place to get wind
in the July wind dearth. 7.5 -5.5, clean (and very cold) water. From
the statistics, you'd guess the Utah Windsurfing Association members
never go anywhere else. It's a small lake with small chop, and the
occasional irascible fisherman. When the jet stream is right over
us and due west, and there aren’t any thunderstorms around, Sulfur
Creek has dependable wind. Plus, if you get skunked, there’s always
the consolation of real beer!
Woodruff Narrows Res.,about the same
distance from SLC, but about 12 miles North of Evanston. Woodruff
is relatively unsailed, but gets good West wind like Sulfur Creek.
People debate which is better, but there are two reasons to go there:
1) You can camp there, unlike Sulfur Creek and 2) When you’ve made
the drive to Evanston and find a bunch of big black clouds hanging
over Sulfur Creek, look north. If it’s clear, Woodruff can be rippin’
while Sulfur is rainin’. Same water as Sulfur Creek, part of the Bear
Jordanelle Res, 40 minutes SE of SLC
on the way to DeerCreek. The same conditions prevail here as DeerCreek
because it's in the same type canyon funnel. Gets pretty good south
wind on prefrontal day, but generally only until 3:00 or so. Get there
early! Clean but very cold water (it's at the 6,500 ft level), means
wear your drysuit! Jordanelle can also be sailed when the upper atmosphere
winds are North. It's high enough in altitude that the upper atmosphere
can couple down to the water.
Yuba Res, 90 minutes South of SLC. Reliable
7.5 -6.5 morning thermals dawn to 11 AM. If you're hung over you'll
miss it. The North beach has fine white sand to caress your bare feet,
but the good wind happens at the east boat launch which will require
booties. Prettiest bluegreen water in the state.
Willard Bay, 45 minutes North of SLC.
Unpredictable wind, you can get near nuke conditions before and after
a front or you could just get hailed on.
Pineview Res, 55 minutes NE of SLC. Same
conditions as DeerCreek but a lot less crowded in summer.
Rockport Res, 30 minutes from SLC. Spotty
at best, on West wind (which is rare).
Echo Res,60 Minutes East of SLC. Afternoon
7.5 thermals if you're lucky.
There are actually many more lakes within
an hour to an hour and a half of SLC, but those listed are most likely
to get predictable wind.