Provo, Weber remain rapid
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, parts of Utah’s drought-stricken landscape are in a state of natural disaster.
But Mother Nature hasn’t stopped local residents or businesses from enjoying the waters of the Weber and Provo rivers.
Kyle Hooker, the owner of Park City Rafting, still has a busy schedule, thanks to the reservoirs. "Last year the water levels were really high from the snowfall," he said. "This year we have the reservoirs so the weather hasn’t affected us at all. It might affect us late August but water has not been a problem."
The water levels in the reservoirs are still strong, thanks to the immense snowmelt two seasons ago. According to the Central Utah Water Conservancy District, the Jordanelle Reservoir is at 85 percent of capacity and Deer Creek Reservoir is at 67 percent. So, despite the weak snowfall last season and the extreme heat this summer, anyone looking to cool off and enjoy an afternoon rafting can rest assured the opportunity is there, says Hooker.
Hooker, who also owns Barefoot Tubing, has been professionally guiding for 25 years. He started in the Grand Canyon and moved 15 years ago to guide on the Weber, which, he says, is "way more exciting."
"It’s a fun way to make a living; it’s nice to be out and about," he said. "Rafting and tubing are both a lot of fun. We provide a good service for people with the guided trips that we do and we’ve been doing it for 15 years."
Lloyd Stinson, from Destination Sports, says they’ve had to limit the number of people to six per raft to accommodate a slightly lower water level. "It’s running pretty good for the little water we’ve had," he said.
Guided tours on the Provo River also remain popular, said Drew Jenkins, the owner of Midway Adventure Company. "This has been our best season in 5 years," he said.
As a nationally acclaimed trout-fishing hotspot, the fishing interests make sure the flow in the Provo is consistent. Controlled by the Jordanelle and Deer Creek dams, the Provo maintains a strong current throughout the year to ensure the rapids stay wild, says Jenkins.
Jenkins attributes this season’s success to the "huge variety of types of people and ages" that rafting attracts. "I’ve been in this business for a long time. Rafting is the most popular because we have a low age limit so we got a huge variety of types of people and ages that can go. If we have a group, everyone can be satisfied in all ages," he said.
Jenkins recalled an elderly couple in their 80s he took rafting for the first time. Following that experience, they loved it so much they rebooked a week later. "Rafting is fun for everybody," he said.
River rafting on the Provo and Weber rivers will last until the end of September or until respective businesses see a decrease in reservations. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has listed 16 Utah counties as natural-disaster areas due to the severity of the drought and the risk of wildfires.
Local rafting companies
Park City Rafting
Midway Adventure Company
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Each of the Park City area’s state legislators have a lot more than just ski resorts and restaurants on their mind – try roads, natural gas and a state university as well.