A Week After Reopening, Utah’s State Parks Were Turning Visitors Away Saturday Due to Overcrowding

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sand hollow, state park, utah
Sand Hollow State Park, UT. Credit: utah.gov

Only a week after it was announced that most of Utah’s state parks would reopen to the public, Sand Hollow, Gunlock, and Quail Creek State Parks had to close early Saturday due to the huge influx of visitors.

“Quail Creek, which is about 10 miles away, had to close before us. We were just overwhelmed with the amount of people trying to get out.”

– Jonathan Hunt, park manager for Sand Hollow.

After weeks of being restricted to just local county residents to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, it was announced on 17th April that many state parks would reopen, albeit with social distancing measures implemented. On Saturday afternoon, however, Sand Hollow employees began turning away visitors due to full parking areas both on the beach and boating areas. Anybody with reservations for camping was and is still being allowed in.

sand hollow, utah, state park
Sand Hollow State Park, UT

Cars were backed up over a mile waiting to enter the park, and when employees began turning cars away, many just parked at the side of the road and walked the mile to the park. Last year the park didn’t turn a single car away.

“Primitive camping was packed tighter than I’ve ever seen it, even more than a three-day holiday weekend. It’s triple that, easy. People were parking on the southern parkway, both sides of the road, where you’re not supposed to park, and just abandoning their cars, so they could hop the fence and go to the beach. … We’ve got a complete collapse of coronavirus social distancing protocols. … I’m blown away.”

– Jonathan Hunt, park manager for Sand Hollow.

Utah has had 4,123 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 41 deaths.

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