Changes are afoot at Summit County’s Rockport State Park |

Changes are afoot at Summit County’s Rockport State Park

Reservoir slated for expansion as drought reveals historical structures, forces dock removal

Rockport State Park is at 32% capacity, with low water levels forcing officials there to remove boat docks. The boat launch remains operational, though four-wheel-drive vehicles are recommended.
Courtesy of Utah State Parks

Changes are coming — and some are already here — at Rockport State Park, the swimming, boating and fishing spot south of Wanship on Summit County’s East Side.

The reservoir was at 32% of its capacity as of Tuesday, perhaps the most visible and impactful change. It is so low that structures from the historical town of Rockport, which was flooded in the 1950s when the reservoir was created, have made an appearance.

Park Ranger Eric Bradshaw said one building foundation is visible nearly every year, but that a set of schoolhouse stairs is a rarer sight.

“If you look, you can see the old highway (near the southern end of the reservoir),” he said. “You see the first foundation then you see the set of stairs.”

He said he’d last seen the relic four years ago. It is a remnant of a Mormon pioneer town first settled in the 1860s, according to the park’s website.

In another change, the park announced Wednesday it was removing its boat dock for the season, though another smaller dock remains at the end of the boat ramp.

The boat launch is still operational, Bradshaw said. He recommended those using the ramp to have vehicles with four-wheel-drive, as traction is worsened by silt that has built up at the bottom of the ramp, which is normally not exposed above the waterline.

Bradshaw said the water level made it so that the boat dock started to run aground even after it was pushed deeper into the reservoir.

“We had to pull it because it’s so flat,” Bradshaw said.

He’s seen less motorized boat traffic this year, possibly because of the smaller surface of the reservoir brought on by the drought. Removing the dock would likely reduce motorized boat traffic further, he said, and make it harder to load passengers onto a motorboat.

But he said that paddleboarders, kayakers and other beachgoers still frequent the park, and it has been busy.

“Oh yeah, it’s hot. Everyone wants to beat the heat,” he said.

The low water level has increased the size of the beaches, but reduced the water’s surface.

“It is a lot smaller. The south end is where you’re going to find that real shallowness,” Bradshaw said. “We’re to the point where, if you’re familiar with Rockport, Twin Coves (campground), that is not on the water right now.”

Rockport State Park is pictured in 2019, before the effects of the drought hit. Today, the reservoir is 32% full, and officials have had to remove the boat docks because they were running aground.
Courtesy of Utah State Parks

Beachgoers have something to look forward to, Bradshaw indicated, as the park is planning an expansion to a campground on the northern end of the park this fall.

“That’s a highly desirable location,” Bradshaw said. “It’s got really good sandy beaches on the deep end of the lake.”

Plans are to add 30 parking spots this fall to the Cedar Point campground, which is on the northeast tip of the reservoir.

Before that project, the Utah Department of Transportation will begin a repaving project for S.R. 302, the road that runs along the eastern edge of the reservoir inside the park.

Work is slated to begin on Monday and continue into the fall. It will be confined to the first few days of the week — Monday through Thursday — which Bradshaw said would keep the park’s busiest weekend days free from construction slowdowns.

The $1.5 million project is paid for largely through federal funding, according to UDOT. The project has been pushed back twice because of a materials shortage, a UDOT spokesperson said.

It will repave the 3.5-mile road and the boat ramp parking lot. The road is expected to be reduced to one lane from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. while work is underway as crews cut down the surface and then replace it.

Bradshaw indicated the work will benefit the park and make it better for users, and will include paving the widened shoulders and restriping the parking lot to improve its layout.

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