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Utah’s state parks see big increase in visits during pandemic

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah State Parks has reported park visitation increased by 2.6 million between 2019 and 2020 despite safety restrictions implemented during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Our state parks saw elevated visitation numbers throughout the traditional summer season,” Utah Division of Parks and Recreation Director Jeff Rasmussen said. “Not only that, but record-breaking visitation continued into the fall and winter, and has not tapered off like it normally does.”

The agency reported that the 44 parks across Utah recorded 10.6 million visitors combined last year compared to the 8 million recorded in 2019, KSTU-TV reported. Officials said popular boating and off-highway vehicle areas statewide also saw increase use.

Park officials announced in April last year that many state parks would reopen after weeks of being restricted to in-county residents to limit the spread of COVID-19. Some stayed closed based on local public health orders.

“We never closed our doors to the public. While there was a time when visitation was restricted due to local health orders, we were always open,” Rasmussen said.

Utah State Parks expects visitation to remain high this year as people continue to find outdoor spaces to escape during the pandemic.

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