Governor Lifts Restrictions At State Parks; Some Still Limited To ‘County-Only’ Visitors

Apr 17, 2020, 7:30 PM | Updated: Apr 20, 2020, 5:56 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Governor Gary Herbert announced state parks are open to all Utahns with some limitations due to local health order restrictions.

Officials said Utahns who visit the parks should practice responsible recreation by maintaining a six-foot distance from others, staying away from the parks if they’re sick or showing any COVID-19 symptoms and helping keep parks clean.

Visitors should also avoid congregating at trailheads, overlooks or other areas.

Officials with Utah State Parks said county-only visitor restrictions still apply to parks in the following counties, which have restrictions in place due to local health orders:

  • Carbon
  • Emery
  • Grand
  • Summit
  • Wasatch

“Currently, in much of eastern Utah and other areas, outdoor recreation is restricted to the county in which you reside by local public health orders,” officials said. “If you live outside these counties, do not travel to visit state parks located inside them.”

See a full list of which parks are open to all visitors or county residents-only here

With everything going on these days, Utahn Kelly Ryan just needed to get away for a bit.

Camping has always been her escape.

“Oh my gosh, it’s like a mental recharge,” she said from outside her tent at Great Salt Lake State Park. “This has been a hobby of mine for a long time.”

However, since Ryan lives in Salt Lake City, she could only visit state parks in Salt Lake County.

That’s why she chose Great Salt Lake State Park instead of going somewhere else.

That county state parks restriction was part of the governor’s “Stay Safe, Stay Home” directive for the past few weeks.

That directive said state parks could stay open, but only to residents in the county where each park is located.

“It was really hard because I had reservations at other state parks and they just started getting canceled and canceled and canceled,” said Ryan. “So my friend suggested I come here.”

However, Herbert announced Utah’s state parks were open for all Utahns, with some exceptions.

“We’re going to lift those restrictions today and allow people to go to any of our 43 state parks at their leisure,” he said.

That was great news for state park workers.

It was tough asking visitors to turn around if they weren’t from that county where the park was located.

There are still some state parks, mostly on the east side of Utah, that will remain open only to county residents where that park is located because of local health department directives.

“We are certainly still abiding by those local orders,” said Eugene Swalberg, Utah State Parks public information officer.

For those parks opening to everyone, though, social distancing, staying in your group and giving others room to pass on trails will still be required.

“Oh yeah. Absolutely. The buzz word now is responsible recreation,” Swalberg said.

That was just fine for Ryan.

“I can totally social distance,” she said with a laugh.

She also said she’ll never take visiting a state park for granted again.

“I’d like to be able to visit all of our state parks this year,” said Ryan.

Kelly Ryan outside her tent at Great Salt Lake State Park.

Visitors centers will still be closed and state park administrators were still trying to clarify with state leaders what to do about out-of-state visitors. Visitors were also encouraged to prepay for day-use passes to limit contact with park staff.

“It’s a fluid situation, as it has been for weeks,” said Swalberg. “But we’ll get it figured out.”

“The governor’s announcement (Friday) applies to areas managed by the Division of Parks and Recreation only; it does not apply to recreation areas managed by other local, state, or federal agencies,” park officials said.

Updates on the Utah State Parks can be found here.

Coronavirus Resources

For more on how Utah is combating the coronavirus, go to 

To find a COVID-19 testing location near you, go to

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 recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

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

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Governor Lifts Restrictions At State Parks; Some Still Limited To ‘County-Only’ Visitors