Utah State Parks Open To County Residents Only During Outbreak

Mar 28, 2020, 6:10 PM | Updated: 6:11 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Utah’s state parks will remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic, but only to residents of the county where the park is located after Gov. Gary Herbert issued the “Stay Safe, Stay Home” directive on Friday.

No matter how nice it might be to spend time inside her Sandy home, Christa Aquilla couldn’t wait to take her kids camping next week.

“They can get off their phones and their TV,” she said with a laugh.

Their plans?

Snow Canyon State Park in St. George.

It’s a place they loved camping in so much last year, they couldn’t wait to go back.

“We made those plans almost a year ago,” Aquilla said.

Like many people with plans, though, the COVID-19 pandemic changed everything.

“The coronavirus has been affecting a lot of people,” said Aquilla. “People are getting sick and we don’t want to spread it any more than anyone else does.”

That’s why the Aquillas are listening to Gov. Herbert’s “Stay Safe, Stay Home” directive about only visiting state parks in the county where you live.

It’s part of the governor’s overall effort to try and cut down on traveling to help keep the virus from spreading so fast.

“We’re here to serve the people, but we’re also here to protect them as well,” said Lt. Eric Stucki during an interview at Great Salt Lake State Park Saturday morning.

Stucki, a law enforcement officer with Utah State Parks, said at this point, park officials are not checking visitor’s driver licenses to make sure they live where they say they live.

Rangers were hoping visitors stay honest.

“We’re asking people to follow the governor’s directive and do the goodness that they need to do,” Stucki said. “It comes down to common sense. It comes down to people taking care of themselves and taking this serious.”

Since the directive was announced late Friday afternoon, park managers are allowing those with reservations this weekend to stay.

Many people were in line at Antelope Island State Park in Davis County when Gov. Herbert made the announcement.

However, beginning Monday, visitors not from the county the park is in have to leave.

“This is a little bit of a difficult situation because we try to be the friendly ranger at all times,” said Jonathan Hunt, park manager at Sand Hollow State Park. “But, at the same time, we do want people to abide for the rule and we will ask them to be honest.”

March is a popular time of year for parks like Sand Hollow State Park in southern Utah, especially with Easter weekend coming up.

Workers have already been busy trying to get the word out.

“In the last couple of hours, we’ve been making a lot of phone calls, calling all of the campers that have reserved Easter weekend and stuff and telling them we will no longer be accepting people from out of county,” Hunt said.

For now, it’s the new reality we’re in.

It’s also one everyone is hoping doesn’t last long.

“Yeah, we’ll be back to normal soon. I hope,” said Aquilla.

For those with reservations next weekend and the weekend after, Utah State Parks officials said you will get refunds.

They’re working with Reserve America to make sure that happens.

This is a huge economic loss for the state, especially with campgrounds for Easter Weekend, but park managers said there are more important things than money right now.

The “Stay Safe, Stay Home” directive will be in effect through at least April 13.

Of course, that could change.

“This is fluid,” Stucki said. “It changes daily, and people really need to be aware of that.”

For the status of a park you’re interested in visiting, and for more on the governor’s directive when it comes to outdoor recreation, you can click here.

Coronavirus Resources

How Do I Prevent It?

The CDC has some simple recommendations, most of which are the same for preventing other respiratory illnesses or the flu:

  • Avoid close contact with people who may be sick
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. Always wash your hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

The CDC does not recommend wearing a face mask respirator to protect yourself from coronavirus unless a healthcare professional recommends it.

How To Get Help

If you’re worried you may have COVID-19, you can contact the Utah Coronavirus Information Line at 1-800-456-7707 to speak to trained healthcare professionals. You can also use telehealth services through your healthcare providers.

Additional Resources

If you see evidence of PRICE GOUGING, the Utah Attorney General’s Office wants you to report it. Common items in question include toilet paper, water, hand sanitizer, certain household cleaners, and even cold medicine and baby formula. Authorities are asking anyone who sees price gouging to report it to the Utah Division of Consumer Protection at 801-530-6601 or 800-721-7233. The division can also be reached by email at

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Coronavirus Utah

FILE: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 (left) and Moderna COVID-19 (right) vaccines are seen at a vaccinati...
Lauran Neergaard, AP Medical Writer

US clears updated COVID boosters for kids as young as 5

The U.S. on Wednesday authorized updated COVID-19 boosters for children as young as 5, seeking to expand protection ahead of an expected winter wave.
2 months ago
Alex Cabrero and Mike Anderson, KSL TV

Sandy woman shares frustration of ongoing battle with COVID-19

As life starts to return to normal from the pandemic, for millions of Americans, it still causes a daily struggle. That's the case for one Sandy woman, who shared her story Tuesday.
2 months ago
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - SEPTEMBER 09: A pharmacist prepares to administer  COVID-19 vaccine booster sho...
Jed Boal

University Health recommends getting omicron booster and flu shot now

The CDC approved the COVID-19 bivalent boosters that target the most recent omicron variants on September 1. Since then, tens of thousands of Utahns have rolled up their sleeves.
2 months ago
FILE: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 (left) and Moderna COVID-19 (right) vaccines are seen at a vaccinati...
Jed Boal

Despite reaching 5,000 deaths, Utah’s COVID-19 numbers are down

The director of the World Health Organization said yesterday about COVID-19, “the end is in sight,” even if we are not there yet.
2 months ago
FILE: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 (left) and Moderna COVID-19 (right) vaccines are seen at a vaccinati...
LAURA UNGAR AP Science Writer

Is COVID-19 winding down? Scientists say no

New booster shots have arrived and social distancing guidelines have eased but COVID-19 infections aren't going away anytime soon. Experts predict the scourge that's already lasted longer than the 1918 flu pandemic will linger far into the future as the virus continues to cause deaths and may well mutate or evolve into a new disease.
3 months ago
FILE: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 (left) and Moderna COVID-19 (right) vaccines are seen at a vaccinati...

US clears updated COVID boosters targeting newest variants

U.S. clears updated COVID-19 boosters targeting the newest omicron strain; shots could begin within days.
3 months ago

Sponsored Articles

house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 reasons you may want to consider apartment life over owning a home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Take this quiz before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t let a ransomware attack get you down | Protect your workplace today with cyber insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Utah State Parks Open To County Residents Only During Outbreak