New facilities increase capacity and services at Gunlock State Park – St George News

LOCKDOWN – With temperatures soaring and more hours of daylight, anyone planning to recreate outdoors in southern Utah will need to find ways to vacation without overheating.

Visitors use one of the new campgrounds at Gunlock State Park, Gunlock, Utah, June 8, 2022 | Photo by Ammon Teare, St. George News

State park officials at Washington County’s three reservoirs are gearing up for another summer of record-breaking visitation, but the Gunlock State Park team will be better prepared than ever with the recent addition of 30 new campsites and all new sanitary facilities.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held Wednesday morning to celebrate the new improvements to the campground, with park superintendent Jon Allred welcoming state partners in the Department of Natural Resources and the Legislature as well as government aides. local and business.

“It’s a whole new area that wasn’t accessible,” Allred said. “The day-use area will still be full and busy, but it won’t feel cramped like you might think if you added 30 campsites. Even when all 30 sites were filled, it was no longer crowded – people had campsites to go and visit, and that just made the visitor experience so much better.

Previously, Gunlock offered five primitive campsites with access to vault toilets and no drinking water. Now, each new campsite includes hookups for drinking water and electricity, a fire pit, a picnic table and access to a comfort station with private showers and flush toilets.

Upgrades to Gunlock campground facilities include five private shower stalls under same roof as new washroom facilities, Gunlock, Utah, June 8, 2022 | Photo by Ammon Teare, St. George News

Jeff Rasmussen, director of state parks, encouraged attendees to see the new restroom facilities for themselves, a suggestion he said was only half-joking.

“It may sound crazy, but I want you to check out these restrooms because we’re pretty proud of having flush toilets and tiled walls and a place where people can have a good time,” he said. -he declares.

Gunlock upgrades were completed in time for reservations to open on May 24, and the campground was fully booked over the past two weekends. Reservations can be made onlinewith a typical cost of $35 per night for a single campsite.

As the first of 14 similar campground projects to be completed this year, the Gunlock improvements will contribute to a 20% increase in campground capacity and a 10% increase in day parking at parks across the country. State of Utah, Rasmussen said.

“Over the past five years, our attendance has grown from 5 million visitors to over 12 million visitors, which is a huge increase – every year our attendance is growing in double-digit percentages,” he said. he declares. “This kind of investment and improvement couldn’t come at a better time to be able to accommodate this.”

The economic impact of state parks for local communities has grown along with increased visitation. Kevin Lewis, director of the Greater Zion Tourism and Convention Office, recounted the data collected by his organization over the past three years.

Park superintendent Jon Allred says the plan to provide access to water and electricity at campsites has been part of the area’s business plan since the 1970s, Gunlock, Utah, June 8 2022 | Photo by Ammon Teare, St. George News

Visitation to national parks has increased by 50% since 2019, while visitation to state parks has increased by 92%. Revenue from the transient room tax, which is collected by hotels, trailer parks, campgrounds and other forms of lodging, has increased by 90%, Lewis said.

Looking ahead, the next project at Gunlock will include additional parking and better beach access near the dam. The recently completed upgrades were slow in coming, Allred said, and respond to the efforts of many of its predecessors.

“I was reading park business plans from the 1970s, and one of the first things he said was, ‘Gunlock needs power,'” Allred said. “He said if we got electricity and water it would change everything. And for the last four years we’ve had electricity and water – and everything changed.

Information on current park conditions – including water temperatures, fees and boating requirements – are available on the park website.

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Richard F. Gandhi