Looking for a place to swim in Utah County?
Just outside the mouth of Spanish Fork Canyon, there is a 4 acre reservoir that makes a decent swimming hole for the afternoon. We have been going there a few times a week all summer. It has a small beach, but it is large enough that there can be 100 or so people there before it feels crowded. And the rest of its perimeter is concrete, which isn’t the most comfortable surface, but it does make it easy for crowds to spread out, and the teenagers often do spread out around the perimeter, leaving the beach to the families, so even on the busy days, everyone seems to find room to have some fun.
How To Get There
From I-15, take the Spanish Fork / Highway 6 exit (#257), and head towards Price. Drive all the way through town. After you get through town, as you start to approach the wind farm, you’ll see the Little Acorn restaurant on the right, just before a light. Take a right at that light, onto Powerhouse Road. Follow that road to the 4th left, where you will see a sign for the Spanish fork Gun club, and take a left up that road… continue up that road all the way to the top, and you’ll find a parking lot, which is the lot for the reservoir. Go up the stairs from the lot, and you’ll be on its beach.
And yes, you do go uphill and upstairs to reach water. This is because this reservoir is used to feed the pressurized irrigation for Spanish Fork. the water is pumped up into the reservoir, then gravity-fed back down into the irrigation system over the course of the summer for the town to use. So while it might seem strange to drive uphill to go swimming, you really are heading the right direction. And at the end of the road, you get a decent view of the valley, too.
Best Times To Go:
The later in the summer you go, the warmer the water will be. In general, though, the water is cold. But that makes it a great place to cool off when the air temperature is 100 degrees, even if it does make you shiver. We do not like swimming there before noon, as the water hasn’t yet had a chance to warm up at all. Mornings also tend to have more people fishing around the edges – the fishermen don’t really interfere with swimming, but I feel safer when there are less lines and hooks nearby. Late afternoons are great. Mid afternoons have more crowds, a lot of teenagers and families… which may be a good or bad thing depending on who you want to be around while you swim.
The park itself is open from dawn til dusk. It is a city park, and does have a gate that is closed off each evening. You cannot stay after hours, unless you are camping overnight.
Great Things About It:
- It is free.
- The cold water is a great way to cool off on really hot days.
- You can bring kayaks, canoes, stand-up paddleboards, or anything else you want to float on. And people do. There are usually crowds of people in the middle just floating on air mattresses, enjoying the atmosphere. We’ve seen all of these things…
- It is right next to hiking trails, so it makes a great place to have a multi-activity day, going on a hike, then cooling off in the water.
- If you live in one of the surrounding towns, it is one of the closest places to swim for free, in a place where the water stays clean all summer. (Unlike some of our other lakes around here.)
Not So Great Things:
- There are no lifeguards. Let me be very clear on this point. Both adults and children have drowned here. The edges of the reservoir, except for the beach, are slippery. But don’t let that ruin your fun. Just take safety seriously. My children swim in pairs, and we often leave a parent on the beach, watching out for everyone. Even though it is not a large reservoir, when they swim out into the deep water, we all wear life preservers. Maybe we are paranoid but I’d rather be paranoid than regretful. And hey, it is kinda fun to relax and float around in the middle of the lake while wearing a life vest anyway.
- They aren’t that expensive – we ended up with ones like this –>
- It can get crowded. The beach and reservoir themselves are big enough, but parking can fill up. If the first lot is full, there is a second lot up the hill. On really crowded days, they sometimes open up a gravel area just west of the first parking lot. And sometimes they will open up a grassy area just southeast of the first parking lot.
- There is not much natural shade. If you plan to spend a lot of time sitting on the beach, I recommend bringing a shelter of some kind. Ours is a simple inexpensive one like this –>