1. The Bear River
Did you know that the 451-mile long Bear River is the longest river in the U.S. that doesn’t reach the sea? It’s also the largest tributary of the Great Salt Lake. The Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, in Brigham City, provides habitat for millions of migratory birds each year, including bald eagles, tundra swan, white-faced ibis and more.
2. The Colorado River
Quite possibly the most politically contentious river in the West, the Colorado is surrounded by controversy. When the Glen Canyon Dam was built, creating Lake Powell, many disagreed (and still do). In Utah, the Colorado winds through some of the most inaccessible parts of our state, and also provides plenty of recreation. The rapids through Cataract Canyon are Class IV during the high season of May and June.
3. The Escalante River
Originating near the town of Escalante, the river winds about 91 miles before emptying into Lake Powell. The Escalante River Hiking Trail follows the river through some of Utah’s most beautiful terrain, through the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
4. The Green River
The Green River is the main tributary of the Colorado. It’s one of Utah’s largest rivers. It ranges from 100 to 1,500 feet wide and is 3 to 50 feet deep. The flow of the river is 6,121 cubic feet per second (as measured at Green River, Utah).
5. The Jordan River
Only 51 miles long, the Jordan River stretches from Utah Lake to the Great Salt Lake. It’s not great for fishing (unless you love carp), but the recreation opportunities along the Jordan River Parkway provide the residents of the Salt Lake Valley with some scenic walking, jogging and cycling. You can also spot some wildlife along the river, including foxes and beaver.
6. The Logan River
The Logan River originates in Idaho and flows down into Utah to join the Bear River. It’s only about 53 miles long, but is a beautiful little river that winds through Logan Canyon and into the Cache Valley.
7. The Paria River
The Paria is very familiar to the canyoneers that navigate the slot canyons of Southern Utah. Buckskin Gulch is one of the longest, deepest slot canyons in the United States. The Paria winds from Garfield County down to the Glen Canyon Dam.
8. The Provo River
A popular river for recreation, fisherman love this river. The Provo River Parkway provides scenic views along the banks, stretching from Utah Lake to Vivian Lake. During summer months, the lazy sections of the river are perfect for tubing, canoeing and splashing around.
9. The San Juan River
If you’re into fly fishing, you’re probably very familiar with the San Juan. It’s said to be one of the best fly fishing rivers in the country and is reported to have as many as 1,500 fish per mile! A tributary of the Colorado, the San Juan stretches along the very most Southern portion of our state before crossing the Four Corners area and dipping down into New Mexico.
10. The Sevier River
The Sevier wins the prize for longest Utah river contained entirely in our state! It stretches 383 miles and flows through Kane, Garfield, Piute, Millard, Sevier and Juab counties. You’ll find browns, rainbows and cutthroats in the Sevier.
11. The Virgin River
The Virgin runs through some of Utah’s most beautiful red rock country — from just north of Zion National Park to Arizona, just past the town of Virgin. It’s home to several endangered species of fish, including the woundfin, Virgin River chub and Southwestern willow flycatcher.
12. The Weber River
Just 125 miles long, the Weber passes through some scenic parts of Northern Utah. It originates in the Uinta Mountains, then passes through several Utah towns including Oakley, Coalville, Henefer, Morgan and Ogden, before joining the Great Salt Lake. The Weber helps irrigate much of Northern Utah’s farm country, and is full of Bonneville cutthroat, and rainbow, brook and brown trout.