Campsites in short supply
May 22, 2009
Campers found themselves parading through Summit County Friday to find what sites are still available at area reservoirs and the scenic Uinta Mountains east of Kamas.
"There are probably 50 or 60 campers up there right now, and it’s nice to see folks coming back," said Darren Schiedel, a U.S. Forest Service law-enforcement officer who patrols the Mirror Lake Highway. "They’ve been going up since Wednesday and it’s fun to just sit in town and watch. Today at 4 o’clock the parade will begin and it will be just one camper right after the other."
Snow still blocks the Mirror Lake Highway near Trial Lake. But spots are available for camping at Yellow Pine, Cobblerest, Soapstone and Shady Dell.
Meanwhile, those hunting for campsites at area lakes might be out of luck. Spots were in short supply at Rockport, Jordanelle and Deer Creek state parks.
"We do keep a certain number set aside for first-come, first-serve, but I would think, especially on this busy weekend, those are taken by this time," Utah State Parks spokeswoman Deena Loyola said.
Advance bookings at Rockport, Deer Creek and Jordanelle run out several months in advance, she said, adding that those campgrounds are full by Memorial Day.
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"They are located on the Wasatch Back, close to the Wasatch Front, and they are some of the most popular," Loyola said. "Individual sites can be booked 16 months in advance and the group sites can be booked up to 11 months in advance. So these have been off the market for a little while."
Fewer people will camp this year at Jordanelle, however, because erosion from heavy runoff has broken water lines and caused other dangerous conditions.
But Hailstone campground on the west side of the lake is completely booked Loyola said.
"Memorial Day is the official kick off for summer. We do have Easter weekend, but it’s still a little bit cooler and weather is a little bit iffy," she said. "Our staff will be out in force making sure that people are having a good time but also having a safe time."
On Friday, Parkite Colin Jackson went to Sports Authority to buy a tent, an air mattress and camping chairs.
"I already have all the ultra-lightweight stuff," Jackson said about his backpacking equipment. "This is what happens when you get a family, you end up having to re-gear."
This weekend he expects his 3-year-old daughter to camp at Grand Teton National Park for the first time.
"We’re introducing her to camping," Jackson said. "She’s never been before."
He joked that he never needed a sleeping pad in the past.
"But as I get older the ground seems to be getting harder," Jackson said.
Heber resident Chelsea Darveau will celebrate her birthday on Memorial Day at her family’s cabin in Midway.
"We’re going to barbecue and drink a few beers," Darveau said.
Her mother, Parkite Carla Darveau, said she used to spend Memorial Days decorating gravesites.
"We used to go put flowers on all the graves of my grandmothers, grandfathers, great-grandfathers and great-grandmothers," she said, adding that Monday she will throw horseshoes in the mountains. "It’s a birthday celebration this year."
Camping supplies flew off the shelves this week at Sports Authority in Park City.
"When somebody buys camping stuff, they try to buy everything," said Derek Jewell, a clerk at the store.
Schiedel warned campers to recreate safely.
"We are stressing water safety. At least in the last six years, this is probably the highest the water has ever been," Schiedel said about streams east of Kamas. "We want to keep mom and dad aware that if they are close to the water, watch their kids. We don’t want them to have an accident that is going to impact them for a long time."
There have also been bear sightings in the forest this year.
"If your food is out it’s accessible to bears," Schiedel said. "Inside of a tent obviously is not good enough."
Rockport State Park (435) 336-2241
Jordanelle State Park (435) 649-9540
Kamas Ranger District of the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest (435) 783-4338