SALT LAKE CITY — Utah State Parks is gearing up for one of the busiest weekends of the year at reduced capacity and they're urging recreators to plan ahead and stay safe.
“There are some [parks] that we want to take our grandkids to over and over again,” said Eugene Swalberg with the Utah Division of Parks and Recreation, as he stood near the marina at the Great Salt Lake.
Whether you’re floating in the Great Salt Lake, cruising on the water at Jordanelle State Park, or just getting ready for a few nights of camping – when it comes to Utah State Parks, it can be hard to pick a favorite.
“There’s 44 [Utah] State Parks and that’s like asking me which one’s my favorite child, and no I don’t have a favorite child,” Swalberg laughed.
This year in particular, Utah State Parks has seen an influx of visitors due to COVID, even though the pandemic is also forcing them to operate all parks at reduced capacity.
“You’ll see that this weekend, where state parks are at capacity and that means people won’t get in when they want to,” said Swalberg.
Labor Day Weekend is one of the busiest of the year. While they expect most parks to be at capacity each day, they hope the masses will enjoy the parks, while putting safety at the forefront.
This year, Swalberg said safety it is two-fold. They want everyone to be aware of the general reminders to wear safety equipment like life jackets or helmets, to clean up after themselves, drink responsibly if you choose to do so, and come prepared with the knowledge and rules to operate any equipment they bring.
“Know your equipment, know your skills, know where you’re at and have fun, because we do this because we want to have fun,” Swalberg smiled.
Now, they are serving up those standard reminders with a side or COVID cautions, reminding patrons to maintain social distancing and wear a mask when social distancing is not possible, or inside buildings.
“It’s just a matter of responsible recreation, whether that be social distancing or wearing safety equipment, [it’s] all about taking responsibility,” he continued.
Swalberg said they may seem like obvious or small things, but they help to ensure the longevity of the park, and you.
“Choose to come home safely, and choose to come home and tell those great stories that we all love to tell,” he said.
The majority of the parks are expected to reach capacity beginning on Friday and lasting through the Labor Day holiday.
Each state park has its own social media account. Swalberg recommends checking the given park’s page prior to arriving, to see whether it is at capacity.
State park passes may be purchased online in advance. Just head to the Utah State Parks website, select the park you want to visit and click the option to, “buy your single day use pass.” From there patrons can see all available days and purchase passes ahead of time.