LAKE POWELL, Utah (ABC 4 Utah News) – More Utahns are ready to make a splash in our local lakes and reservoirs, but over the last decade the way we use our water has changed, and now the regulations in place at some of the best places to recreate in the state are also changing.
At Lake Powell, visitor usage has changed over the last several years. This is the first summer that three side canyons have gone wakeless, making it easier for those kayakers and swimmers. Water enthusiasts couldn’t be happier about these new spaces for non-motorized recreators.
Ashley Hillyard, a resident of St. George says, “I think [Lake Powell], that’s what I love about it, I think it’s big enough to accommodate boating and things like that. Coming out canoeing, paddle boarding…that’s awesome to be able to have a space for them.”
National Park Service Rangers say they also started to see a shift in the way people vacation at Powell, noting that not everyone is into the speed boat or house boat experience.
Now Antelope, Labyrinth and Lost Eden canyons are designated wakeless zones.
In Utah, the non-motorized boom really revved up about 6 years ago. The office of outdoor recreation looks at participation rates on Utah waterways, and they say the Beehive State is following in the footsteps of the national trend.
Tara McKee, from the Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation, says, “Nationally, we’ve seen the number climb as much 26% over the last 3 years and that’s with national participation.”
Kayak usage is also up about 17 percent. The Office of Outdoor Recreation says it’s no surprise, because these hobbies are portable, affordable and easy to learn. You can now expect designated wakeless zones to grow in popularity too
McKee says, “For smaller bodies of water, those are really ideal. They are very green. They don’t pollute the river or the lake.”
Which is a major benefit for places like Red Fleet State Park in Vernal. The Park Manager, Mike Murray, takes pride in a clean water way and a setting that encourages visitors to try new things.
Murray says, “You won’t get a lot of waves when they are going slow wake. When you are just beginning on a paddleboard it’s a little shaky at first, so it makes it better. it’s also nice and quiet out there, nobody is running a big engine.”
The wakeless program at Powell now acts as a pilot program, and rangers say you could see a few more next year.