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Summer recreation fun at the Wasatch Back’s state parks

Provo River Water Users Association

The Wasatch Back has six nearby Utah State Parks with plenty of recreation opportunities for all ages.

Here’s a bit of trivia: Can you list all six of the Utah State Parks in the Wasatch Back?

Park Ranger Kathy Donnell from Wasatch Mountain State Park has the answer.

“So, we have some amazing state parks,” said Donnell. “We have, starting up at Deer Creek, and then Wasatch and Jordanelle, that includes Hailstone, Rock Cliffs and Ross Creek Recreation Areas. Then Rockport, East Canyon and Echo. So, we have six state parks that are so close to each other.”

The annual Utah State Parks pass is good for all of Utah’s 46 state parks. The cost is $125 for people under 65 and $65 for those over age 65. Day rate prices range from $10 to $25.

Wasatch Mountain State Park is the only state park in the Wasatch Back without a reservoir. But Donnell said you’ll get a lot of bang for your buck with more than 22,000 acres of land for ATVs, hiking, camping, fishing and mountain biking. She said to be sure to swing by the visitor center too.

“We have fishing poles to rent," said Donnell. "We have fat tire bikes to rent at the visitor center. We have GPS units to rent if you want to go geocaching. We have Junior Ranger books so there's just a lot to do just on your own. We have a backpack program that you can check out the backpack and do all kinds of nature activities throughout the park.” 

If you want a cool down from the heat, the lakes are all full and the water temperature is between the upper 60s and low 70s.

Donnell said the crowded boat ramps require efficiency because amateurs will likely have an audience.

“So everybody has pretty much had to learn how to back up a boat on a steep ramp, or they're learning how to do it in front of people so that's even worse,” she said.

One of Utah State Parks’ priorities is to keep people safe. The parks have a very strict life jacket policy. Kids under 13 are required to wear a life jacket at all times when they’re on the water or even if they’re just playing on the shore. Donnell said everyone needs to have a life jacket on any vessel 16 feet or longer and that includes stand-up paddleboards.

Midway resident Shauna Jarvis learned this the hard way. She was kayaking with her son and realized halfway across the lake she forgot her life jacket on shore. She was making her way back when a park ranger cited her with a hefty fine she later resolved in court.

“But that wasn't the most traumatizing part," said Jarvis. "The traumatizing part was it is a Class B Misdemeanor. So then they took me out back into the jail and took a mug shot and fingerprinted me.”

So, remember to recreate responsibly, be informed…and consider yourself warned.