Ken’s Lake south of Moab is a bustling hotspot during the summer months. Swimming, fishing, kayaking, and stand-up paddle boarding are popular activities as Moabites seek to beat the heat. 

Ken’s Lake, formally known as the K.E. McDougald Reservoir, was constructed from 1979 to 1981 to store water for agricultural use in Spanish Valley. The reservoir was a project of the Utah Division of Water Resources and the Grand County Water Conservancy District. It is named for Ken McDougald, once the Grand County Water Conservancy District chairman who worked for years to bring the project from idea to fruition. McDougald also served as Moab’s mayor for a period during the uranium mining boom.

Ken’s Lake filling with water for the first time in 1981. [Moab Museum Collection]

The reservoir is filled with water diverted from Upper Mill Creek, which passes through a tunnel and flows over the rocks into the southeastern corner of the reservoir. A 95-foot-high dam retains the water. The completion of Ken’s Lake in 1981 was marked with a celebration, photographs from which can be found in the Museum’s Collection.

Today, the recreation area and nearby campsites are managed by the Bureau of Land Management. In the decades since its completion, the reservoir has supplied both water for agriculture and a place to cool off for Moabites.

The Moab Museum is dedicated to sharing stories of the natural and human history of the Moab area. To explore more of Moab’s stories and artifacts, find out about upcoming programs, and become a Member, visit