It is really fun to float down the Provo River in a tube, kayak, or paddleboard. It is exciting enough to have a lot of fun, but mellow enough to feel comfortable if you are inexperienced or with kids.
The Provo River begins up in the Uinta Mountains at Wall Lake. The Upper Provo passes down from the Uintas to Jordanelle Reservoir. The Middle Provo is the section between Jordanelle Reservoir and Deer Creek Reservoir. The Lower Provo is the section below Deer Creek that goes through Provo Canyon and empties into Utah Lake. The first time I tried floating it though a company, High Country Adventure. It was $25 and that covered the tube, a life jacket and the transportation up to the top of the river, as well as some instruction. There were different types of tubes and we regretted choosing one that had a seam around the outer edge. You don’t have a paddle, so kicking or paddling with your arms is the only way to steer and we both got a little chaffed from the seam.
Unless you go with a company, you will need to tag team with a friend or take two cars so that you can have a shuttle. Park one car at Vivian Park and then drive up to Deer Creek State Park – Lower Provo River Area. The water is chilly, but it’s only a foot or two deep there, so it isn’t too intimidating to get in.
If you only want to go halfway, you can park at the bridges. There is no cost any lot. There is a sign that tells you where the loading areas are.
The river is beautiful. You periodically pass fly fisherman. I’ve tried it during the day and evening, both on weekends and week days. Of course Saturday afternoons are the most crowded, but it still isn’t too bad.
There is a double bridge I recommend you don’t go under. It’s the only bridge along your way. There is a green cargo car and signs to help you know when the bridge is coming. When we were there last week we watched about ten people ignore the signs and try their luck under the bridge. 9/10 tipped! No one got hurt, but they got a cold dunk and then had to right their kayak, paddle board or tube and then jump back in. Hard shell kayaks and paddle boards seemed the most tippy and inflatables seemed the most stable.
If you only want to float down halfway, you can park at the bridges and get in where you get back in.
When you start seeing the company landing on the right side of the river, then make your way to the left and get out. It’s a little bit tricky to stop there by the rocks, but if need be you can jump in. Again it’s only a foot or two deep. Right after that low-hanging branch is a great spot.
Right there are train tracks. They are only used by the Heber Valley Railroad, but keep an eye out as your cross just in case. Here is a view from the opening in the fence to the park, looking up the river. You can see the pavilion across the river from the tube company and the great Provo River!
Take the entrance into the Vivian Park parking lot. Unless you were dropped off then you will need to go back up and pick up your other car in the upper lot. Here is a little video of some of the “rapids”.
Here are more photos of the river.
Stats: Distance – 4.4 miles downstream (full length)
Approximate floating time – 1-2 hours (part or full length) -plus 30 minutes to shuttle cars
Trail – river
Bathrooms – At Vivian Park
Seasons to hike – June – September
Permits needed – None
Pets allowed – Yes
Probably your river attire is different enough from your hiking attire that you wouldn’t want to do it one day, but you are nearly Upper Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, Bridesmaid Falls, Lost Creek Falls, Stewart Falls, Timpanogos Falls, and Timpanogos Aspen Grove hiking trails.
Map to Deer Creek State Park – Lower Provo River Area (Start Point)
Map to Vivian Park (End Point)
Map to Bridges (Halfway Point)