your paddlesports destination

Great Salt Lake in Utah

Trip Overview

Great Salt Lake is four times saltier than the ocean with very few other paddlers. I take advantage of the solitude of Great Salt Lake (GSL) quite often. Sometimes during the dead of winter when everyone is skiing in the mountains, I will paddle out on GSL and there won't be a single person in site. This lake is 11,000 Square miles so there is plenty to paddle. It reminds me of paddling the Dead Sea, as the vegetation and surrounding vistas are very unique.

GSL is a shallow lake averaging 13 feet deep. The lake is not a place for powerboats so you will have quietness at all times. There is a large sail boat population on the lake however, making your paddle seem like you're on the Atlantic Ocean. Summers can be very hot, so I usually avoid mid-June thru August. I recommend taking about 2-3 hours and paddle across to Antelope Island. This is a barren island that is home to antelope and bison. You could even hike to one of the high peaks or ridges for a view of the Salt Lake valley!

The southern tip of Antelope Island has some unique rock formations to explore. GSL can get very rough in a short time so be cautious and prepared in case a sudden windstorm blows up. I would not recommend going to Antelope Island in a canoe as it would be dangerous in the event of a storm. Canoes can paddle along the south shore either east or west however.

There is a large haystack rock formation just west of the Salt Lake Marina (near Saltair). This rock formation has some interesting history. It was described by the ill-fated Donner Party Wagon Train as they headed west to California. Their route passes thru this area along the southern end of GSL. I recommend paddling in the spring and fall to see the thousands of birds that use the lake as part of the migratory route through N. America. You could easily spot over 100 species of waterfowl during this time of year. At times GSL can be calm as glass for providing a good workout. It is so calm in fact I have watched the Salt Lake sculling club practicing early in the mornings. So for a quick hour-long paddle or an all day adventure, GSL is a pleasant and scenic tour you will enjoy.


The marina has restrooms and lake information. Thre is also a freshwater pump/hose to was your sea kayak off afterwards as it may has a layer of dried salt covering it. The lake is 4 times saltier than the oceans.


From Salt Lake City head west on I-80 towards Nevada. About 15 miles from town you will see an exit for Salt Air and Salt Lake Marina. Park at the marina and paddle from there.


Maps are not needed. But a good topographic map showing the southern portion of the lake is recommended, especially if you are planning to paddle to Antelope Island. Antelpoe Island is 10 miles from the marina even though it looks very close.

It may be wise to bring a marine weather radio or phone of somesort. Especially if your in a canoe. This lake can go from calm to 4 foot whitecaps in a quick amount of time. So be prepared in the event of an emergency. Have a few flairs or smoke signals to assist you.

  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Water Type: Flat/Sheltered Water
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip