Church Of Dirt Takes Back Wedding Scheduling

Sep 15, 2021

Church of Dirt on Empire Pass
Credit KPCW

Park City Municipal required a private person to cease using a website she created to schedule wedding events at the city-owned property on the ridgeline south of town known as the Church of Dirt.

The ad hoc wedding site locals refer to as the Church of Dirt is back to regular scheduling practices. For couples interested in reserving the spot for private weddings, you'll have to make a trip to Empire Pass and register your date and time in a book that stays at the site. Many betrothed couples etch their names on a stone or a piece of wood as part of the reservation ritual.

In June, a self-proclaimed part-time Park City resident named Erin told KPCW that she removed the scheduling book and left a note referring people to her website. Her motive, she said, was intended to help people avoid scheduling conflicts.

Erin declined to give KPCW her last name.

Park City Municipal Trails and Open Space Manager Heinrich Deters said she was very cooperative when the city asked her to remove her website.

"She was very cordial, you know, I think she truly did not understand the impact that she was having. And so, you know, we reached out a couple of times, and she agreed to take the website down."

Deters said safety is a big concern. He said it's a balancing act for the town to continue allowing this type of event in this location.

"When we get calls or requests about Church of Dirt, our response is that there are no reservations, this is sort of a community and public aspect, and that if people abuse it, and abuse it, meaning you know leaving trash or having conflicts of use or traffic impacts, we're going to have to basically remove it. So, we're not to that point yet, although I would have to say that we're pretty darn close. Because it really is something that has defined us. I think there's a lot of people in the community that have been married up there versus public safety issue up in that area."

The parking area for the Church of Dirt is on Empire Pass on the Wasatch/Summit County line. Deters said it is in Wasatch County, and Park City does not have enforcement jurisdiction over the parking. Deters said it's no longer only a locals place, and he wants to stress the difficulty of managing the heavy use.

"Oh, if it's abused, it's going to have to go away just because you know the safety and parking impacts there. It's unfortunate. It has deviated from being sort of a Park City community or Summit County or even Wasatch County that now we're getting people from all over the country that are using it. We have to balance all of those things."

Deters urged visitors to the area to behave respectfully and suggested there are many public lands and open spaces that are beautiful and accessible in addition to the much-loved Church of Dirt.