Boat Camping in Utah

Load your camping gear into your boat, shove out from the dock and let the waterway serve as your highway to adventure - away from automobiles and asphalt and crowds of screaming people. Several Utah waters provide the opportunity to camp at spots accessible only by boat. The experience can be remarkably serene.

Popular destinations

Lake Powell

This is our premier destination for boat camping, offering more shoreline than America's Pacific coast and countless canyons to explore. On a clear night, away from the marinas, moonlight dances on the water and silhouettes the canyon walls, creating a scene of remarkable beauty. This lake's sandy beaches make ideal playgrounds.

Houseboats are popular here. Rental boats are available at the marinas and provide all the conveniences of a well-equipped RV - soft beds, flush toilets, running water, lights, a stove, etc. However, there are drawbacks to houseboats: they are expensive, you have to reserve them a year or more in advance, they move slowly on the big lake, and they can't navigate some of the narrow canyons.

Runabout, ski or fishing boats are often used by people beach-camping on the lake's shoreline. They can also be rented from Lake Powell Resorts and Marinas, at the number above. They are much less expensive than houseboats, and may be available with just a few weeks advance notice.

Most of the shoreline at Powell is open for camping. However, campers must bring their own marine toilet or port-a-potty system.

Flaming Gorge

Houseboats are also popular on this large, scenic reservoir. However, the experience is completely different from that offered by Lake Powell. With rocky shorelines, and brush and trees coming down to the water's edge, this reservoir doesn't offer the sandy beaches that make Powell popular. Still, there are plenty of coves where you can tie up a houseboat and enjoy the spectacular scenery and wonderful fishing.

Most people using powerboats or fishing boats prefer to camp in developed campgrounds. There are campgrounds near every marina, and four campgrounds that are accessible only by boat (Kingfisher Island, Hideout, Gooseneck, and Jarvies). All campgrounds are administered by the National Forest Service.

Yuba State Park

Sandy beaches and relatively warm water attract campers and boaters to this reservoir. The Oasis campground offers modern facilities at the water's edge. There is a designated primitive camping area at Painted Rocks; primitive camping is also allowed at North, West and East beaches.
Starvation State Park
This reservoir is reminiscent of Lake Powell, with sheer cliffs and sandy beaches. The state park campground near the boat ramp is very nice, with modern facilities adjacent to a wonderful beach area. Primitive camping is allowed at designated areas around the reservoir.

Colorado River

Many kinds of boats can operate on the Colorado River in the Moab area, including jet boats, airboats, kayaks, and rafts. Multi-day flat-water floats are possible. Tex's Riverways, (435) 259-5101, will shuttle floaters or paddlers back to town from the lower reaches of the calm-water stretch.

Permits are required to float the famous whitewater stretches (like Cataract and Grand Canyon). Novice rafters are encouraged to schedule a trip with a licensed guide service.

Green River

Desolation Canyon is suitable for multi-day do-it-yourself float trips, with moderate whitewater. Recreation in the canyon is managed by the BLM, and a permit is required to float the river.

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