Looking to experience Utah’s pristine natural beauty but don’t want to pay park fees or worry about passing too many other people? Then Fish Lake Utah is a great choice! Fish Lake is popular enough that you can buy fishing gear, rent a boat, or order a juicy cheeseburger. Yet still remote enough that you won’t be passing more than one or two other people maximum as you hike, bike, or ATV on a mountain trail.
Where is Fish Lake Utah?
Fish Lake is the largest Freshwater mountain lake in Utah, and is located in the mountains of South-Central Utah. The biggest nearby town is Richfield (with a population of about 7,500), which is about 40 minutes northwest of the lake. It is accessible via one of a few highways that branch off from I-70 and head into the Mytoge Mountain range. Fish Lake may be a little off the beaten path, but it is definitely worth your time!
What is there to do in Fish Lake Utah?
The real question is, what isn’t there to do in Fish Lake? While you may think that it is only a place for fishermen, that is selling this gorgeous natural site short. Fish Lake is sandwiched between the Mytoge mountain range on one side and plateaus on the other. This setting means there is no shortage of trails, camping spots or recreational activities.
The small businesses at Fish Lake make any form of recreation easy. The Fish Lake Lodge and Bowery Haven sell fishing and camping supplies, and even rent out boats. They also serve food at their sit-down restaurants during the summer months. You can get anything from salads and burgers to steak and trout.
There are also many campsites around the 5-mile long lake. This makes Fish Lake camping very family friendly in the Summer. When the weather gets too hot to bear in the valleys, reserve a spot, bring your tent or trailer, and spend a few days in the cooler mountain temps. You can mountain bike, walk or jog on the lakeside trail, ATV or hike on a mountain trail, or relax on the shore.
The best part? Because the forest surrounding Fish Lake is a National Forest by the same name, public access is completely unrestricted. This means that hiking, biking, and camping can be done just about anywhere. And because of its remote location, you can see the natural beauty all around the lake in a mostly undisturbed state.
Can you visit year round?
While summer time is the most popular time to visit Fish Lake, many locals will tell you that there is just as much to do in the winter time. The fish still bite even as the temperatures drop below freezing and the lake is covered by a thick sheet of ice. Winter is definitely the time to come if you are looking to bag a record-size Splake. While hard to catch in the summer, they become much easier to land once the lake freezes over. If you’ve never been ice fishing, Fish Lake is the perfect place to learn.
Ice fishing isn’t the only winter sport popular at Fish Lake in the winter. The mountains surrounding the lake are also a great place to visit as the snow piles high. They provide a gorgeous setting for snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing. While it may be tricky to get to Fish Lake during or immediately after a storm, your patience will be rewarded if you are willing to wait out the snow plows. Fish Lake and the forest surrounding it are simply majestic covered in snow.
Why is it called Fish Lake?
The answer to this question is as simple as it sounds: Fish Lake is an incredible place to fish! In fact, among the locals, Fish Lake fishing is legendary. With a maximum depth of 170 feet, and an average depth of 85 feet, fish thrive in the clear blue water. Most of those fish, including Rainbow Trout, Lake Trout, Splake, and Yellow Perch are popular with fishermen. Maybe the favorite of the Fish Lake fishermen is the Lake Trout, which can often grow to 20 or 30 pounds! And if fly fishing is more your thing, many of these fish can also be found in the small streams that feed this natural mountain lake.
When fishing on the lake, the best fishing can often be done with a lure trolling just under the surface of the water. Some fish, like the giant Lake Trout, or more likely to be caught by deep fishing with rigs. Much of the most productive fishing through trolling and rigging is done from boats. If you don’t have your own boat, you can easily rent one from Bowery Haven or the Fish Lake Lodge.
What is Fishlake National Forest?
The mountains surrounding Fish Lake are beautiful in their own right, with trees everywhere. Each of these trees is part of a large National Forest that runs from Fish Lake itself to the I-15 corridor in the West. They provide beautiful scenery while hiking, biking, or ATVing on one of the many trails surrounding the lake.
This National Forest is unique because it contains a huge forest of ‘quaking Aspens’ known as a Pando Aspen Clone. This means that every tree in the forest is a clone of the original tree. This tree (and the others after it) spread by sending up shoots from its roots. This forest--one of the largest in the world--has been there for 80,000 years. It is lush and green in the summer and spring, and quiet and pristine when blanketed with snow. However, for the most stunning display of natural beauty, plan to visit in the Fall when every leaf turns a brilliant yellow-orange.
Can you swim in Fish Lake?
The short answer is yes, if you are okay with being a bit cold. The longer answer is probably not for long without a dry suit. Because of Fish lake’s depth and the elevation where it is located, the water stays pretty cold all year. For comparison, at Fish Lake, the average water temperature during the Summer is around 55°. At Lake Powell, the average water temperature during the Summer is 77°.
Its high elevation also means that Fish Lake does not get as hot as the surrounding area during the hottest summer months. Its average outside temp of about 77° during the summer makes getting out of the water downright chilly. There may be days in the summer when temperatures make swimming a worthwhile endeavor, but it’s not one of the most popular activities at the lake.
Swimming on the shore can often be a great way to play in the water without completely jumping in. However, this can be tough to do at Fish Lake. Close to shore, the water is littered with thick tangles of weeds that can be good for fishing, but not nearly as fun for swimmers. If planning to wade in, make sure you pick a clear spot.
So if you’re looking for a picturesque spot to relax and enjoy Utah’s natural beauty without fighting crowds, Fish Lake may be just the right place for you!