Following the announcement by Gov. Gary R. Herbert, most of Utah’s 44 state parks were opened to all visitors. After a couple of very busy weekends at some Utah state parks — especially those in the St. George area — the Utah Division of Parks and Recreation has now implemented some temporary guidelines to address concerns of overcrowding and safety.

“We’re committed to maintaining the health and wellness of our staff and visitors. It’s evident that a few changes are necessary to increase safety and social distancing at our busiest parks,” said Jeff Rasmussen, director of the division. “We all play a role in keeping each other safe and healthy. We hope these changes contribute to a better visitor experience, and we ask those coming to state parks to do their part and practice responsible recreation.”

To help keep state parks operating efficiently while continuing to promote adequate social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, the parks will be undergoing some temporary operational changes:

• Visitor capacity at high-visitation parks will be reduced and will now be determined by the number of developed parking spaces available inside the park. 

• State parks will partner with local law enforcement and the Utah Highway Patrol to enforce highway parking restrictions at select parks.

• Primitive camping will be closed or reduced at high-traffic parks. This allows visitors more room to spread apart and practice social distancing.

• Increased law enforcement and staff presence will be added inside the parks to encourage social distancing and responsible recreation compliance.

• Park managers will update capacity estimates on their individual park social media pages and websites throughout the weekend.

Outdoor recreation is important to the health and wellness of Utahns and we all play a part in keeping one another safe, the division said. Officials are encouraging park visitors to check park conditions online and individual state park social media accounts. Extensive wait times, closures and other updates will be posted there. Visitors are asked to visit parks that are close to home, practice safe social distancing, avoid congregating at trailheads and other common areas and maintain small group sizes. Above all, Utahns are asked to stay home if they are sick or have symptoms of the coronavirus.

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