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Salt Lake City leaders worry about popular outdoors spot after state reopens

A pair of Utah congressmen say they're against the Great American Outdoors Act. (PHOTO: Entrance of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail in City Creek Canyon. Credit, Paul Nelson)

SALT LAKE CITY – City officials say City Creek Canyon is already crowded, and they expect it to get worse after the state reopens this weekend.  They’re urging people who visit this weekend and going forward, to keep their distance from each other and to have public safety in mind.

If you drive along the road in City Creek Canyon, you’ll see plenty of joggers and people walking along the path.  You’ll also see bikers and hikers heading into the Bonneville Shoreline Trail.  Some people we spoke with on Thursday said they drove from areas like Millcreek and Ogden just to spend time in this popular spot.

“People have to have an outlet.  They’re not doing anything else,” one woman said. 

As state reopens, fairness on the trails

Some people don’t mind the crowds.  One man says it wouldn’t be fair to limit the number of people who can walk the trails.

“I don’t own it.  It’s here for everybody to use,” he said.  “So, if people think it’s too crowded, perhaps they should just find someplace else to go.”

“Look at the number of cars parked around here.  Yeah, it’s obviously crowded.”

No closure as state reopens

To be clear, Salt Lake City officials have no intention nor desire to close the area. 

“We’re really happy, in fact,” said Public Utilities Spokeswoman Holly Mullen, “that people are taking care of their mental and physical health during this crisis and getting out there and enjoying the fresh air and exercise.

We just want people to be extra, extra careful,” Mullen said.

Social distancing and ‘sharing the road’

City workers have noticed some problems in recent weeks.  In a way, one method of maintaining public safety has become a bit of a safety risk.  Mullen says people walking in groups along the road are staying six feet apart from each other, as we’ve been instructed to do.  However, when they walk side-by-side, they can take up the entire road, which increases the chances of pedestrians being hit by bicycles. 

Mullen says people should walk single-file instead of on their companion’s side.

Dogs an issue as state reopens

Dogs are also becoming an issue.  Mullen says they’re getting lots of reports of owners not having their pets on their required leashes. Some are going into areas where dogs are prohibited.  Mullen says the animals can contaminate the watershed in an area already crowded with people.

“Honestly, I’m not exaggerating, I would say maybe a thousand [people] a day on the weekend and several hundred during the week.”

Salt Lake City officials have released a list of “basic rules of the road” for City Creek Canyon, which include…

  •       Pedestrians keep to the stream side of the canyon
  •       Bicyclists always on the right–streamside on the uphill, slope-side going downhill.
  •       Dogs always on a leash, maximum 6-foot length (retractable leashes are highly discouraged)
  •       Observe all posted speed limits 
  •       Bicyclists should dismount and walk through the canyon entrance-exit area
  •       “Go before you go.” Do not relieve yourself in the canyon
  •       No camping in the canyon
  •       Keep It Pure: Pack out what you pack in and leave no trace


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Coronavirus resources

How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19Coronavirus

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 system 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

UtahState 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