TOOELE COUNTY, Utah (ABC4) — The canals near the Bonneville Salt Flats, which first went viral on social media in 2020, have resurfaced yet again as pictures and videos show kayakers and paddle boarders recreating on bright blue waters in the vast desert region. But is there any truth in it?

These canals, which were recently highlighted in multiple online articles and have reportedly been drained since they went viral, were a result of wastewater from nearby facilities owned by mining company Intrepid Potash.

As stunning as these waters may look from afar, local officials warned travelers not to recreate on the canals.

According to a statement made by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM): “The ​canals are industrial facilities leased to Intrepid Potash for potash mining activities and are not designed or safe for public recreation. Therefore, the public should not access, swim, float, kayak, canoe, or pursue any other recreation activities in these industrial canals.” 

Along with that, the Utah Highway Patrol (UHP) has made it clear that parking along I-80 to access the canals is illegal and extremely dangerous due to the proximity to the interstate highway.

In 2022 and earlier this year, excessive amounts of rain and runoff closed the Salt Flats area to motorists looking to explore its salt-laden landscape. These wet conditions were enough to cancel the annual Speed Week last year, which typically brings visitors from around the world to the Bonneville Salt Flats every August to participate in racing events.

Here are some other locations in Utah for visitors looking to quench their thirst for adventure with bright blue waters:

Bear Lake

This is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike, with large beach areas, and plenty of water to kayak, canoe, and even boat in. The shoreline is reportedly 20 miles long, and around eight miles wide. The turquoise color of the lake comes from the mineral calcium carbonate, Visit Utah reports.

Courtesy Adobe Stock/Via Andrew

Red Pine Lake

This lake, located in Little Cottonwood Canyon, is popular for day hikers, as well as overnighters, and is one of Utah’s most popular high-mountain lakes, according to Visit Utah.

It’s a 6.8-mile hike, which takes about 3.5- 4 hours to complete, and the difficulty is strenuous, with a 1,940 ft elevation gain. However, the view is reportedly well worth the struggle.

However, at this lake, there is no swimming permitted, as it is a watershed area.

Summer arrives at Redpine Lake in the high country of the Wasatch Mountains in Little Cottonwood Canyon near Alta, Utah., Courtesy Getty Images/Via Salil Bhatt

Great Salt Lake

Utah’s Great Salt Lake is the largest saltwater lake in the Western Hemisphere, and the eighth largest in the world, reports Visit Utah. It is a popular destination for boating, swimming, kayaking, hiking, and camping. Try your hand at floating in the Great Salt Lake, legend has it that near the shore you can float without a lifejacket because of the high salt content.

Scenic view of the Great Salt Lake landscape at sunset, Courtesy Adobe Stock/Via Galyna Andrushko

For more information on other recreational areas, you can read ABC4’s guide to Utah’s National Parks.