Urban Paddling: 3 miles on the Jordan River in Taylorsville, UT


Dec 11, 2013
@Tess and I decided that we needed a test run in our packrafts before taking them to Canyonlands for our Figure EIght trip next week. With a good tip from @Mike K , we decided to check out the Jordan River. We had never been to this area of town before, so it was a mini-adventure for us.

There is a paved bike trail all along the river. You can run a lot of the river in a boat, but there are some sections with mandatory portages. More info about the trail can be found here. Flows were at about 46 fps.

A little history about the river:

The Jordan River is about 51 miles long. It flows northward from Utah Lake to the Great Salt Lake. More than a million people live in the Jordan Subbasin, which is the part of the Jordan River watershed that lies within Salt Lake and Davis counties.

It was named the Jordan River because of the way it ran from a freshwater lake (Utah Lake) to a saltwater lake (Great Salt Lake), just like the River Jordan in the middle east.

We parked at 4800s, near little cottonwood creek and started hiking 3 miles south.

Bags packed and ready to go. Can you tell which pack is brand new and which pack is 1.5 years old?

Everyone on the bike path was super friendly. It was a beautiful spring day. There were some fun boardwalks that went over the marshy sections.

We kept walking 3 miles, passing a bunch of parks, marshes, and eventually I-215 followed by a golf course. When we got to Winchester Park, near the Murray Parkway Golf Course, we unpacked the rafts and inflated them.

We got some pretty interesting looks from the passer-bys as nobody was in the water all day.

These boats inflate quite quickly. 5-10 min and they were done. I ordered my boat with the cargo fly (waterproof zipper). I was able to store my backpack and other bags inside the stern of the boat, just loose in there. It worked great and I'm really glad I ordered that option.

All inflated and ready for the river.

It was a really shallow put-in, and we scraped bottom for the first 5 feet.

The water was pretty shallow in most parts of the canal, so I doubt a regular kayak or canoe would get through here as easily as we did. Packrafts seemed like the perfect vessel to float this on. Even our inflatable kayaks would have been riding a little low.

We passed under a few roads, and they were generally quite tame, nothing to worry about.

It was a gorgeous day on the river. This river has a reputation for being dirty and polluted, but we thought it was beautiful.

It was around 4PM, and the wind was picking up, which meant we had to paddle, or the wind would halt our forward progress.

This was one of the slowest rivers we've ever paddled, so we were glad it was only 3 miles long. It was fun and relaxing, but after 3 miles we were ready to get out.

All in all, it was a very fun and relaxing day, and I enjoyed it far more than I thought I would. It was fun seeing the reaction of the passers-by because they obviously aren't accustomed to seeing people floating the river. We will definitely be back to repeat this trip a few times this year with friends.

Mike K

Jul 6, 2012
I'm glad it worked out well for you and that you enjoyed it well enough. It was our first packraft trial and it was a good little float. I hate a headwind on flat water. No fun. It must have been flowing a little higher when we ran it b/c I don't remember it being too bad. Nice recap!


Oct 21, 2014
How do you like those pack rafts. I have been thinking about getting one but I don't know much about them. Do you have any suggestions in purchasing one?


Dec 11, 2013
We really like them. Alpacka makes a great packraft, but they're quite expensive. We've recently be testing a couple from Kokopelli. They're not quite as sleek and streamlined as the alpackas, but they're less than 1/2 the cost, and they're really well built with sturdy materials. Are the alpackas twice as good? Not in my opinion, but they do paddle a little more efficiently than the kokopellis.

Check out this thread:
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