LOCAL NEWS

Record Numbers Expected At Little Sahara Over Easter Weekend

Apr 2, 2021, 10:37 PM | Updated: 10:55 pm

NEPHI, Utah – Little Sahara Recreational Area was closed last year due to COVID-19 concerns, but the Juab County sand dunes could see record numbers this year with people wanting to get outside and play.

There are other ways to have fun, but it’s hard to beat the smiles you get when you’re pretty much flying through sand.

Tammi Shepherd knows that feeling.

“It was absolutely amazing,” she said with a smile as big as the mountain she had just come down. “We do this every year.”

Shepherd and her family were visiting the Little Sahara sand dunes in Juab County.

Camping here on Easter weekend has become a family tradition.

“It’s just all the toys, the people, the environment. We love watching everyone,” she said.

It’s even more special to her this year since Little Sahara was closed last year because of coronavirus concerns.

“It was awful. We had planned it and were ready to come and then we had to cancel,” said Shepherd.

She’s not the only one.

(Josh Szymanik/KSL TV) (Josh Szymanik/KSL TV) (Josh Szymanik/KSL TV) (Josh Szymanik/KSL TV) (Josh Szymanik/KSL TV) (Josh Szymanik/KSL TV)

Lots of people at Little Sahara had similar stories.

It might mean a lot more people will be visiting this year than normal to make up for lost time.

“You ask what to expect this year, and we really don’t know,” said Brent Pulver, chief deputy for the Juab County Sheriff’s Office.

He said about 20,000 people normally visit Little Sahara on Eater weekend to ride the dunes and camp in their RVs.

That number has even been closed to 40,000 people in past years.

“It basically becomes a city out here,” said Pulver.

No matter how many people visit this year, Pulver said the Juab County Sheriff’s Office is ready.

There are ambulances on standby, extra officers and even a medical helicopter for emergencies.

“We want people to have fun, but we want people to do it safely,” said Pulver.

Bad crashes do happen out here almost every year. There have also been many people who have died in crashes.

“I can’t even count how many notifications I have done over my career,” said Pulver. “Those are hard, just to even find the words, to tell a family that their loved one has passed away. Especially from something as senseless as an ATV crash.”

Since Little Sahara might be busier than ever this year, rider safety is being stressed as hard as ever.

“We want everyone to keep that message in mind,” said Stephanie Graham, Bureau of Land Management spokesperson. “It’s going to be exciting this year but please be careful.”

There’s also a safety message parents might not have expected to see at Little Sahara this year.

It’s to talk to your children about underage drinking.

“The number one thing that helps prevent underage drinking is the kids knowing that their parents don’t want it,” said Amanda Reynolds with the Juab County Jump Coalition.

That coalition teamed up with the group Parents Empowered at Little Sahara to help parents talk to their children.

There is also a scavenger hunt set up in the dunes for parents and their children to work on together highlighting the problems with underage drinking.

Since lots of children are riding and camping with their families, Reynolds said this weekend provides the perfect type of family bonding time to have those kinds of talks.

“It’s extremely important to us,” said Shepherd. “We always make sure our nieces and nephews are near us and that they’re safe and doing the right things.”

Because no matter how much fun Little Sahara is, the only thing better is everyone making it back home.

“Our number one focus out here is safety,” said Pulver. “Have fun and be safe.”

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Record Numbers Expected At Little Sahara Over Easter Weekend