This is a guest post by Rob Tidwell, an Ogden, Utah-based freelance copywriter and outdoor enthusiast.
When people look for outdoor activities in Utah, they always look for cool spots within a half-hour of Salt Lake City; most online guides for the Utah outdoors scene focus on this tight radius. But when it comes to finding a great spot to go Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP), canoeing or kayaking, the spots around SLC can be a bit of a disappointment. If you travel just a bit outside of these “boundaries,” however, you’ll find some real gems – like Causey Reservoir.
Go north young man
As we rounded the corner into the canyon, the water was dead still…except for 7 tiny ducklings gliding across the water. A golden hawk soared silently above. The only disturbance was the sound of monster brown trout launching themselves high in the air…and splashing back down into the chilly water. The canyon’s towering walls reflected perfectly in the mirror-like water.
It felt like we were two Bob Ross paintings stacked on one another. And we were the only 2 people there.
If you’re looking for a peaceful morning paddle in an idyllic setting without annoying and dangerous motorboats…
Causey Reservoir may be the magical place you are looking for.
Located about 15 miles east of Ogden Utah (about an hour Northeast of SLC), Causey Reservoir sits majestically at an elevation of 5700 feet. Covering 142 acres, it’s not the largest body of water…but what it lacks in quantity, it sure makes up for in quality.
This scenic reservoir extends into 3 canyons surrounded by 100-foot tall sheer cliffs and thick forest line the water edge…a scene that can be both exhilarating and extraordinarily peaceful to paddle through.
Provided you get there before the crowds do, that is…because on the weekend, the crowds certainly do show up.
Locals love to bring their cache of paddleboards, kayaks, canoes, and other non-motorized flotation devices to the reservoir. The limited parking fills up quickly.
That’s why “Dawn Patrol” is the best way to experience Causey’s Magic. Show up by 7:00 am and leave before the crowds pour in, around lunchtime. You’ll have almost the entire place to yourself.
If you do decide to stay for the afternoon, however…the experience can still be exciting. The chilly water warms up with the afternoon sun, creating a prime environment for all the adventures the thrill-seekers among are gonna have…
Look Ma, I’m Superman!: Cliff Jumping (and More) at Causey
Cliff jumping is a big draw for many visitors to Causey Reservoir. There are several levels of jumps to choose from depending on your adventure level.
For most visitors, the 5-40 foot jumps are plenty to get a rush. Just watch where other people are jumping from to find the safe spots.
Don’t have a kayak or paddleboard? Skull Crack Trail is an easy 2-mile walk that takes you by the cliff jumping spots as well. The views from the trail provide spectacular views of the reservoir that the land-lovers among us will find worth checking out.
(*Caution* a man died in 2015 when he jumped from a 60-foot cliff dubbed “King Kong” and landed in an awkward position. Know your skill level and never jump off anything that you’re not sure about.)
Chill With the Locals…Wildlife, That Is
Wildlife is abundant all summer long at Causey, with ducks and a wide variety of birds floating above the peaceful waters. We even saw a bald eagle perched above the water last time we went out.
The most spectacular wildlife event, however, happens in September…when Kokanee Salmon swim up a tributary of the Ogden River – and spawn right at the Causey Reservoir!
Kokanee are a variety of Sockeye salmon that hatch in Utah streams before swimming and spawn in lakes, where they mature. They return to their birthplace a few years later to spawn the next generation.
The fish turn from silver to a stunning red during this Mid-September event that’s worth the trip alone. One Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) employee we talked to says it’s the best spot for viewing Kokanee salmon in the entire state.
How To Get To Causey Reservoir
From Salt Lake City: Take I-15 North and exit at 12th St in Ogden.
From Ogden: Go East on 12th St through Ogden Canyon and pass Pineview reservoir. When you get to Huntsville take a right on SR 39. Drive 8 miles and you’ll see a sign for Causey. Turn right to cross the dam and park in the small parking lot.
Need to rent a paddleboard, kayak other watersports gear? Here are our favorites rental shops in the Ogden Area.
2nd Tracks Sports: 1273 Canyon Rd, Ogden, UT 84404 (Located at the mouth of Ogden Canyon)
Detours: 9722, 237 S 7400 E, Huntsville, UT 84317
(Remember that lifejackets are required by Utah law and should come with your gear rental.)