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With 90-plus-degree air temperatures, the waterways of Utah are whispering "come on in, the water's just fine." Go make a splash with help from the Outdoor Adventure Program.

By Andrew Thompson Landerghini, University of Utah Communications

When the digital hexagons behind the plexiglass dash display an ungodly hot temperature as you ignite the combustable engine into work, and the 90-plus-degree air whispers “to the water,” think Outdoor Adventures (OA) at the U.

For it is there where the resources to enjoy Utah’s outdoor summer bounties beckon. At OA (housed in the Student Life Center) one can find the rafts, kayaks and paddle boards to bounce, caress and glide upon the rapids, reservoirs and rivers that sprinkle the state.

OA is the largest university outdoor gear rental shop in the nation. With the abundance of activities that the four seasons of the Mountain West region provides, the OA den oozes gear for pretty much any adventure a boundless soul can muster up. But right now it’s summer. And it’s hot. So, if the heat and sense of adventure compel you, go rent one of the 25 rafts, 26 kayaks and 61 paddle boards and splash into some of Utah’s wonderfully invigorating wet spots.


Paddle boarding is the newest rage, and it makes sense. Inflatable paddle boards fold up nicely into pretty much any vehicle. And they unpack, stiffen and are ready for water with the same amount of ease. They’re perfect for the stillness of mountain lakes, to paddle out to the middle of the crystal clear oases with a sandwich and a soda and let the alpine air work its way through you. Some serene spots include Bloods Lake, Little Dell and Jordanelle State Park.


For the waterways that clear a path, and are not confined by a dam or the lift of land, kayaks provide agility and speed down the river. From a float to a jolt, OA has you covered with rigid one-person rapid rockets and long narrow sea vessels (in case you want to venture into the Great Salt Lake) to duckies. (Duckies are inflatable and, like inflatable paddle boards, extremely convenient to transport. They are also especially adept at navigating river rapids of all kind.) The Provo and Weber rivers are both relatively close and convenient and offer a quick respite from the heat.


Whitewater river rafts are the SUVs of the West’s river expeditions. Able to haul a slew of raucous river rats, they can also carry the camping gear needed for the sometimes weeklong runs through the redrock canyons and pine-covered granite mountains to the south and the north. Do note that some trips will require a permit and that these are not all for novices, so do your homework and bring along experienced boaters, if possible. Some of the legendary runs are Gates of Lodore, Desolation Canyon (which is said to be the most remote area in the lower 48 states) and portions of the North Fork Payette River in Idaho.