Kokanee Salmon Run: Causey Reservoir, Utah
The Kokanee Salmon run is a must see fall outdoor adventure in Utah. Enjoy the beautiful fall mountain scenery while also viewing the Kokanee Salmon up close in this unique yearly event.
Fun: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (out of 5)
Difficulty: Very Easy Easy Moderate HARD Very Hard
Distance: 2 to 4.7 miles (depending on if you paddle or hike)
Elevation Gain: 800 feet if hiking
Terrain: Water (reservoir and stream), mud, dirt, rocks, mountains
Time: 3 to 4 hours
When to Go: Mid-September to Mid-October
Vault bathrooms at Skull Crack Trailhead
THINGS TO BRING
If viewing via paddling
Paddleboard or kayaks
Good water shoes/sandals
Snacks and water
If viewing via hiking
Good hiking shoes
Snacks and water
Disclaimer: My husband and I were able to get away by ourselves for this fun adventure. My ratings are still geared towards families.
I have lived in Utah the majority of my life and never knew that there are Salmon in Utah. I had to check these amazing creatures out once a family member told me about them.
The Kokanee Salmon swim upstream from larger fresh bodies of water to spawn in shallow water of mountain streams. During this time, the Salmon undergo a change from smooth silver color to pink/red. The males also gain a humpback and a snout.
At Causey Reservoir near Ogden, Utah you can see the Kokanee Salmon in the streams that feed into it. It does require a little effort to get to these smaller streams, but it is such a fun adventure. You can either paddle or hike to the viewing areas.
Paddling to see the the Kokanee Salmon provides a more remote experience because hikers can't reach one of the tributaries.
You can launch your kayak or paddle board at the skull crack trail head at the south end of the reservoir or at the dam. We put in at the dam and it was a pretty steep walk to and from the water but it was doable.
The Skull Crack Trail launch in is a bit more gradual of a walk to get to the water. Water levels each year will impact how far you have to walk to launch.
To view the Salmon we preferred the more remote site that can only be reached by paddling. It is the left fork on the south end of the reservoir. After paddling for about a mile and half, the reservoir narrows and you will need to park your paddling vehicle and finish on foot to find the salmon. There is a lot of mud and the creek is freezing!
After paddling for about a mile and half, the reservoir narrows and you will need to park your paddling vehicle and finish on foot to find the salmon. There is a lot of mud and the creek is freezing!
You will hike about 0.5 miles to the small pools of salmon after paddling. The beautiful scenery continues. As you start approaching areas of the creek covered in trees look for red/pink Salmon in the water. We were able to see about 40 to 50 salmon in the pools that we found.
Our paddle back was rough due to a strong headwind. I think our kids would have had a hard time paddling with the head wind. If paddling with little ones, I recommend starting earlier in the day when the water is calm. We paddled back around 5pm when the water wasn’t calm.
Check out this link for an awesome map from the Standard Examiner on where to find Kokanee Salmon in Causey Reservoir.
You can also view the Kokanee Salmon via a 4.5 mile Skull Crack Trail starting from the south end of the reservoir. There is a map below to the trail head. The trailhead parking lot can become full on weekends. There is some parking on the road.
This trail is absolutely beautiful. It follows the skyline of Causey Reservoir and provides beautiful mountain scenery with stunning views of the reservoir. This hike does has some elevation change with a total of 830 feet of elevation gain.
After about 2.2 miles you will reach the stream where you can find Kokonee Salmon. You will need to continue following the trail about another 0.1 to find the pools with the salmon. I recommend trying out the trail on each side of the stream. Each side provides different views of the pools. The hike is worth the work to see the Kokanee Salmon up close. We saw about 20 Kokanee Salmon in this area.
The standard examiner map shows that Salmon can also be seen on the North end of Causey Reservoir. We weren’t able to see any here but we visited early in the Salmon season when they may not have been here yet.
PROS & CONS
Salmon viewing in Utah!
Beautiful fall and mountain scenery
Might be rough water when paddling
Causey Reservoir is located just off Highway 39 on FR20139 and is 40 minutes east of Ogden and just 20 minutes from Huntsville. Put Causey Reservoir into your GPS device and you will get the right place. To get to the Skull Crack Trailhead put Skull Crack Trailhead into your GPS or follow my map below.
OTHER NEARBY ADVENTURES
Pineview Reservoir (20 minutes)
Snowbasin Ski Resort (30 mintues)
There are several other places to view the Kokanee Salmon in Utah in the fall including Jordanelle, Fish Lake, Flaming Gorge, Electric Lake, Smith and Morehouse Reservoir, Porcupine Reservoir, Stateline Reservoir, Strawberry Reservoir. Here are some other resources if viewing in other areas.
Hi, I'm Corrine! I'm an outdoor enthusiast, mother of four, wife, nurse and runner. I believe God gave us this beautiful earth to explore, enjoy and protect.
My goal is to inspire you to get outside and create your own amazing memories as a family. Life is precious and there are too many adventures to be had to spend life on the couch or in front of a screen.
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