Jordanelle State Park paddles toward the future |

Jordanelle State Park paddles toward the future

Mike Johnson may be the only state park manager taking routine calls from catering services, but his vision for the future of Jordanelle State Park is unique.

Johnson took over the role as manager of Jordanelle four months ago, coming out of retirement after many years in the financial world and the United States Navy. When he took over, he assumed control of a state park in major flux. Over the next few years around a dozen developments will enter various phases of construction around the Jordanelle Reservoir, most of them desiring some sort of access to the park and its water.

To facilitate those needs, Johnson has already laid the ground work, literally, for a trail to wrap around the reservoir. Although previous shore-type trails existed and received some maintenance, Johnson hopes to create a new boat ramp off State Route 248. A parking lot and bathroom are both on order and should be complete within a month he said.

When maintained, the trail will be 10 miles long and will allow people to cycle, walk or ride horses from the new lot to the Rock Creek Nature Center. Most of the trail, said Johnson, is relatively flat and could allow for novice cyclists to get some exercise without going through the technical grinds common in much of Park City.

A second trail on the Deer Valley Resort side of the reservoir, could connect to some of the other developments including Deer Creek. All of the homeowners that use these trails will still be expected to pay for their use of the state park. Other details on these paths will be created via cooperation between the park, developers and the county. Currently, developers have assisted some of this progress by lending their time and tools toward trail building.

Ultimately, Johnson intends to construct trails around Hailstone that connect to the shoreline trails. At the moment, only a few walking paths and roads accommodate non-motorized transportation.

Also on the agenda for construction is a newly remodeled events center at Hailstone Junction to replace the older and outdated mining museum. Some 200 people visited the museum last year, commented Johnson, a relative waste of space. Within the month, that museum will be completely remodeled and open to events including weddings and board meetings. Johnson is still working on the monetary specifics, but an event should cost anywhere from $350 to $2,500, depending on the type of catering. For those who prefer to do their own cooking, the park now owns two large gas grills.

The park has also greenlit other events this year. Their inaugural "Fire on the Water" deployed fireworks over the reservoir and brought several hundred people to the park. Although the event, did not return a profit to the park, a number of boat owners made an evening of it as they gathered in one of the coves to watch the display. This summer the park continued its geocaching program which began last year.

When winter arrives, Johnson will look to increase activities as well. Snowshoeing under the moonlight is already on the calendar, but cross country skiing could be next.

To help aid with the administration of all these ambitious plans, Johnson will call in the help of the park’s guests. User groups and stakeholders will provide their input for an area management plan that could detail the future of the park. At the very least, plans for Rock Creek should be solidified. "(There’s) a lot more potential other than just going boating," Johnson explained.

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