CORONAVIRUS

Utah State Parks Asking Visitors To Practice ‘Responsible Recreation’

May 1, 2020, 10:53 PM | Updated: 10:54 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – State park officials were asking Utahns to practice responsible recreation as parks statewide reopened to all Utah visitors.

Getting outside does something to us. You could see it in Anna Landon’s face.

“I just feel more alive, honestly,” said Landon.

She hasn’t left her Salt Lake City home much lately.

Coronavirus concerns have kept a lot of people in.

“I want to keep everyone safe, keep myself safe, so that’s most important,” she said.

However, with Utah easing restrictions from red to orange on Friday, Landon figured why not take a little road trip with her mother.

They visited the Bonneville Salt Flats, Great Salt Lake State Park and other places along Interstate 80.

They even had a picnic and were able to keep their distance from other people.

“It just makes me feel healthy and normal and yeah, I’m really grateful to be outside,” said Karen Bradshaw, Anna’s mother.

It’s still easy to feel alone at many state parks in northern Utah, but after what happened at some parks in southern Utah last weekend, park managers said they had to do something.

“We had some challenges, let’s go with that,” said Eugene Swalberg, public information officer for Utah State Parks.

Thousands of people visited Sand Hollow State Park and others in Washington County last weekend. It got to the point where park managers had to close the parks to any new visitors.

“We went back to the drawing board, had some meetings during the week and figured out what to do,” said Swalberg.

Friday afternoon, Sand Hollow and Quail Creek state parks had to close for a few hours and not allow any new visitors into the park because too many people were already there.

“Sand Hollow is only so big. We can’t fit every boat in the county. We can’t have great big crowds show up, so we really do need to limit the access to allow people to spread out,” said Jonathan Hunt, Sand Hollow State Park manager.

Now, park managers will only allow the number of vehicles in as there are developed parking spaces, as well as other restrictions to try and prevent what happened last weekend from happening again this weekend — and in the future.

“Last weekend, we allowed a lot of camping on our beach,” said Hunt. “This weekend, we’re only allowing day use.”

It’s an attempt to limit crowds so state leaders don’t consider closing all state parks again or limiting them to only residents in the county where the park is located.

“We certainly do not want that. No,” said Swalberg.

Neither do visitors. Especially those who just want to get away for a few hours.

“It was great to get outside today,” said Landon. “I’m excited for when all this passes.”

Many visitor centers at state parks were also expected to open this weekend, but not all of them.

Swalberg said the best advice is to the state park to see what restrictions might be in place.

“We want people to come out and we want them to have fun, but we have to practice responsible recreation,” said Swalberg. “Certainly, folks seem to be excited about getting out.”

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Utah State Parks Asking Visitors To Practice ‘Responsible Recreation’