Washington County state parks re-open to public, rangers notice large crowds and out-of-state visitors

Southern Utah

HURRICANE (ABC4 News) – After being closed to non-county residents for weeks, state parks in Washington County — Sand Hollow, Snow Canyon, Gunlock, and Quail Creek — are now open to all visitors.

Over the past few weeks, park managers in Southwest Utah have been turning away hundreds of visitors every day, not only from the Salt Lake City area, but also from out of state. While park managers tell ABC4 News they’re excited park operations are returning to normal, they’re already noticing a surge in out-of-state visitors and breaking up groups of more than 10 people.

Sand Hollow State Park manager Jonathan Hunt said rangers are going to be actively monitoring visitation at their parks, and although they’ll no longer be requiring proof of residency or issuing citations to out-of-county visitors, they’ll be manning the gates to emphasize the importance of social distancing.

“From north to south, we want to be open,” Hunt said. “We want to be a location where people can come visit the outdoors and enjoy the state parks.”

“Come visit the park with the group you’ve been spending the last month with. We don’t want neighborhood groups, church groups, school groups, and we don’t want people having events, weddings, or parties here at the park,” he added.

With temperatures potentially reaching 80 or 90 degrees in Washington County this weekend, staff at Sand Hollow and Gunlock are bracing themselves for large crowds of people gathering to swim.

Although they haven’t kicked anyone out of the park yet for violating social distancing guidelines, park rangers will be staffed at popular areas, such as the jumping rocks areas at Sand Hollow and the falls at Gunlock, to break up large crowds gathering.

“Say there’s a group of 25 people or so. We will ask them to find their own solution to break up into groups of 10 people, and they’ve been very compliant with that,” added Hunt.

As temperatures continue to rise in Southwest Utah, rangers said larger crowds are simply something they’ll need to continue observing and managing amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Re-opening in Washington County:

  • Sand Hollow State Park, Gunlock State Park, Quail Creek State Park, and Snow Canyon State Park are now open to the public, not only Washington County residents.
  • Snake Hollow Bike Park and the Skate Park have reopened effective Saturday morning.
  • Pioneer Park (Dixie Sugarloaf) has reopened Monday.
  • All four public golf courses in St. George have re-opened to Washington County residents, with restrictions.

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