Salt Lake County doesn't have a lot of big freshwater lakes or reservoirs. In the valley there are several small lake, and a few even tinier ones in the mountains. But 2 reservoirs give the county mid-high elevation mountain reservoirs that attract a great deal of waterbirds when not frozen. This typically means March through November on most years. The reservoir is closed to the public but viewable from a couple overlooks along SR-65 headed towards East Canyon. The reservoir is a water storage location for Salt Lake City and the main watershed. The hills here are covered with oak woodlands and shrubsteppe, while Mountain Dell Golf Course sits on the southeast corner bordering the lake for several holes. At the inlet from Little Dell Reservoir, and Parley's Creek there is lush riparian habitat as well.
No summer trip up to East Canyon is complete without a stop at least at the Mountain Dell inlet to scan the water for birds. It's quick an easy to scope the north arm of the reservoir from here, as well as a 1/2 miles south at the Parley's Creek inlet. Various waterbirds and waterfowl are usually present with GADWALL, AMERICAN WIGEON, and often big flocks of RING-NECKED DUCKS present in the spring and fall. These species are often present in the summer in small numbers as well. In all 23 species of waterfowl have been seen here including: WOOD DUCK, BLUE-WINGED TEAL, CANVASBACK, BARROW'S GOLDENEYE, and HOODED MERGANSER. One spring a cooperative TRUMPETER SWAN spent a couple weeks near the inlet providing great looks. Spring and fall bring COMMON LOONS and WESTERN GREBES to the water. Occasionally other grebes pop up as well. There has been a NEOTROPIC CORMORANT reported, and AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN have been seen a few times. OSPREY nest along the reservoir and can often be seen flying over in search of food. During the summer YELLOW WARBLER, LAZULI BUNTING, and FOX SPARROW can be found in the riparian inlets--various species of empidonax flycatchers have been seen, and the area boasts a list of more than 125 species. 5 species of SWALLOW are often present overhead. BUSHTIT, YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT, an HARRIS'S SPARROW have all been reported rounding out the more notable species found here. As mentioned the 2 spots above are the best places to bird--since they don't require trespassing, and you have good views at the water with them--a scope is highly recommended.
From I-80 take exit 134 and go north on SR-65 for .3 miles to the Parley's Creek Overlook on your left. Continue another .5 miles to the Mountain Dell Creek Overlook on your left.