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Hundreds of people turned away from Utah state parks

A portrait shot of American Bison in the green pasture of Great Sea lake, Antelope Island. Getty Images

SALT LAKE CITY – People stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic are looking for ways to break up their routines. For many in Utah, that means going outside and visiting our state parks. (Just as long as everyone stays in groups of less than 10-people and maintains 6 feet of social distancing.)

But, a statewide order from Governor Gary Herbert prohibits people visiting state parks in a different county than their place of residence and officials want to remind everyone they are enforcing that order.

Eugene Swalberg of the Utah Division of Parks and Recreation says they are having to turn away hundreds of people that are showing up to parks they shouldn’t be.

In Southern Utah, Swalberg says people flocked to Sand Hollow and Snow Canyon in droves.  Up north, Antelope Island was a big draw.

“State park rangers and gate staff will be verifying the residency of park visitors.  Out-of-county residents will be turned away,” he says.

Swalberg says there were definitely fewer people at those areas than the week before, but still more people than expected given the ‘stay home, stay safe’ directive.

He went on to say they have had some issues though.

“A few people wanted to push the envelope.  So, there is an increase in police presence at some of the entrances.”

Not all State Parks remain crowded.  Swalberg says Dead Horse Point was one state park with much fewer visitors than the previous week.  But, staff are patrolling high traffic areas to encourage responsible recreation and social distancing practices.

He said some visitors believed Utah State waived admission fees like the Federal Parks have but Swalberg says that isn’t the case.

Responsible Recreation

Courtesy of

Here’s a list of new rules the public should follow while in the great outdoors —

What #ResponsibleRecreation Looks Like:
• Follow the Governor’s directive and recreate close-to-home. If you’re visiting a
state park, only visit a state park within the county you reside.
• Separate yourself from others and respect their social distancing.
• Give one another room on trails and overlooks.
• Avoid congregating at trailheads.
• Stay away from parks and recreation areas when you’re sick or have symptoms.
• Practice “pack it in and pack it out” etiquette and respect facility closures.
• Check to learn the status of your local park before getting on
the road.



How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronavirus is transmitted from person to person. It is a virus that is similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet)
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities.)
  • Get a flu shot.

Local resources

KSL Coronavirus Q&A 

Utah’s Coronavirus Information 

Utah State Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States