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Starvation Reservoir in Utah

Trip Overview

Starvation Reservoir is just outside of the town of Duchesne, UT and is a wonderful place to get away from the crowds that are drawn to bodies of water closer to larger towns and cities. It's a relatively high lake with the elevation 5600 feet so the water can remain cold until the middle of June. Starvation catches water coming from the Uinta Mountains to the north so the water is very clean and clear.

Starvation has often been called "the Little Lake Powell" as it resembles Powell with its canyon inlets and rock islands. With its higher elevation, there is more vegetation at Starvation than Powell but the contrast between land and water is equally as dramatic. There are stretches of pristine desert landscapes with stretches of well-developed crypto biotic soil (now called Biological Soil Crust BSC) and Pinion-Juniper forests.

I launched from the Indian Bay primitive camping and day use area. There's a nice gently sloping sandy beach there. Paddling is easy and motor boat traffic is generally low with more on the weekends and summer holidays. Starvation can be a very windy place and lake conditions can change very quickly from a smooth glassy surface to 2 ft wind waves. Winds usually come from either the northwest or from the southeast.

One could spend a few hours or the better part of a weekend paddling on this modest sized reservoir. Most of the southern part of the reservoir is all Ute Tribal lands. You are not allowed to land on these shores.

Fishing abounds so bring your rod and reel!


There are pit toilets at each potential launch point. Camping is available throughout the park at designated sites. You can check with a ranger for permission to camp at sites away from campgrounds accessible by kayak or canoe.


There is $5 day use fee. For camping away from the campgrounds, I paid a $12 boat launch fee -- the fee for launching motor boats. Camping at the campgrounds cost $9 for a site in primitive campground and $15 in a more developed site with running water.


Starvation Reservoir is located about 4 miles away from Duchesne. Turn and head NW by the Phillips 76 gas station at the west end of town and stay on the pavement. This road goes by Indian Bay primitive camping area that has a great sandy beach for launching. You can also launch at a proper boat launch at Starvation State Park by continuing down the road to the park entrance.


Utah state parks website for Starvation:


A fantastic website for downloadable topo maps is:

I don't know of any guidebooks that describe paddling on Starvation.

  • Duration: Day Trip
  • Sport/Activity: Kayaking
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Water Type: Flat/Sheltered Water
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip