Whether you want to sail as a hobby or just for a spectacular date, Utah Lake is the place to be.

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There are so many things to do here. Utah’s national parks, Martian red rocks and Olympic ski resorts are world famous. Its reputation as a top destination for off-roading and crack climbing is perhaps less well known to the general public, but certainly no mystery to enthusiasts of these disciplines.

But as you scroll through the list of areas where Beehive State is really good at, you can find some real surprises. For example, you probably didn’t know that Utah is a great place for sailing.

Utah Lake, a hidden gem in plain sight

When it comes to sailing, people usually think of places like the Pacific Northwest or Atlantic states like Maine or Connecticut. It is therefore unexpected to learn that for sailing enthusiasts, Utah Lake is far from being as simple as its name.

The third-largest freshwater lake in the western United States, Lake Utah is a remnant of ancient Lake Bonneville, which was about the size of Lake Michigan, according to Visit Utah.

Seeing Lake Utah from a distance while driving on the highway is a much different experience than being out on the water. Although much of the lake today is surrounded by a bustling metropolis, on the water side there are still some natural and relatively untouched areas. Utah Lake is an important habitat for over 200 species of birds, ranging from bald eagles to pelicans and great blue herons.

Whether you want to sail as a hobby or just for a spectacular date, Utah Lake is the place to be.
Photo: Explore the Utah Valley

The Utah Lake wetlands also provide habitat for an array of wildlife. Muskrats, mink, coyotes and deer are regularly spotted wandering the shore. The lake is popular with anglers looking for walleye (probably the best fish in Utah), white bass, largemouth bass, catfish and more. Harbors are great places to take the kids to catch bluegills and crappie.

Today, Lake Utah measures about 24 miles north to south and 12 miles east to west, states the Utah Lake Commission. Its shallow depth keeps the water warm throughout the spring and summer. Add in generally mild winds and it’s the perfect Utah spot for all water sports: boating, canoeing, kayaking, paddleboarding and of course sailing.

Bonneville Sailing School

Utah Lake isn’t just a hotspot for sailing, it’s the best place to learn to sail in the state – the title of skipper is earned, not given. So before you jump in and buy your own boat, be sure to learn from the pros.

The pros in question here are Todd and Louise Frye, a couple living their dream of “sharing the magic of sailing with others”. They are the proud founders of the Bonneville School of Sailing and Seamanship, which is as sophisticated as it sounds and offers sailors of all skill levels tuition right on Utah Lake.

Their two-hour introductory class, “Discover Sailing,” is designed to get you on the lake and getting your feet wet (in every way). From there, you can enroll in the 18-hour Basic Learn to Sail program, the perfect course for beginners to grasp the basics of the sport. The course also gives aspiring sailors the opportunity to get out on Utah Lake, get a feel for what sailing is all about and, quite possibly, fall in love with it.

Intermediate and advanced courses are also offered for those wishing to take the next step.

Whether you want to sail as a hobby or just for a spectacular date, Utah Lake is the place to be.

Take a sunset cruise

If you want to go sailing without learning to do it on your own, the school of Bonneville still has what you need. For a reasonable price of $99, a couple can enjoy an escorted cruise on Lake Utah to watch the sun go down. If you want more privacy and romance, for $179 you can be the only couple on the boat.

If you haven’t experienced a sunset over Lake Utah, you’re in for a treat. Water reflections can turn an ordinary sunset into a photo-worthy image in an oversized coffee table book. And being on the open waters of the big lake gives you a completely different perspective of the Utah Valley.

For the do-it-yourselfers

Lindon Marina will probably be your best bet for renting a sailboat and launching yourself into the waters of Lake Utah. For just $25, you can take your date, a friend, or even your mom for a fun cruise on Lake Utah in a mini sailboat. If you decide you like it, each additional hour is just $10.

If you’re a seasoned pro and already own your own sailboat, you can start cruising at one of the lake’s 27 boat launches. Check out the Utah Lake Commission’s map of all access points to start planning your Utah Lake sailing adventure.

Whether you want to sail as a hobby or just for a spectacular date, Utah Lake is the place to be.
Photo: Explore the Utah Valley

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