State Park road trip visits Emery County parks
The Utah State Parks Road Trip RV passed through Emery County on May 13 and 14. The first stop was the Huntington State Park where the trekkers were greeted by park manager Dan Richards and staff. Richards showed the visitors a scorpion and gave a quick lesson of insight into scorpion behavior and habits. From there the group jumped back on the RV and headed south to Ferron. In the Millsite State Park, Commissioner James Nelson described the wonders of Millsite and surrounding areas to the group. He told them how Millsite State Park is a major staging area for OHV riders as they park at Millsite and ride their OHVs on surrounding trails in the mountains and deserts. He said the golf course is an added attraction to park visitors as they can boat, fish, golf and ride ATVs all from one starting point.
From Millsite park the group headed off to Goblin Valley still within Emery County. In the land of the Goblin they toured around and had lunch at the pavilion among the hoodoos. From there they headed for points outside of Emery County, but reentered the county later that night and into the next day as they stopped at Green River State Park and golf course on their way back through. They were able to view Green River State park by moonlight and hit a glow ball at the Green River Golf Course.
The trekkers took on this tour to raise awareness for the state parks in Utah and to bring out what great and inexpensive mini-vacation sites these parks can be. The parks are close to home and offer many amenities and adventures as well as a great variety of scenery options.
Emery County residents are lucky to have four state parks within the county. Huntington Lake is a spot for wildlife watching, boating and skiing as well as fishing, swimming and picnicking. Richards said, "Our office is currently undergoing a renovation. We added space to the rear of the building. We are excited to be able to offer electricity at five of our camping spots. We have never had electricity in the park at the camping spots. This will enable people to stay as long as they want and be able to have electricity for their RV. We have had many of the people working at the power plants stay here in the park and adding electricity will be a benefit for them. We are proud of our fishery. Wipers were stocked here two summers ago."
Another attraction at Huntington Lake is the biking and walking trail that extends around the perimeter of the lake. The San Rafael Classic triathlon will be in its fourth year this summer on July 9, the swimming lap of the triathlon is completed on the lake, then bikers ride up the Mohrland road and back to the park for a run around the lake. There is a pavilion available to rent for family events.
Millsite State Park is popular spot for boating, fishing, water skiing and family reunions. The park is a staging area for the many ATV trails in the area.
Goblin Valley is the popular spot for hiking and camping. The park has been much improved over the past few years with new restrooms and showers as well as two large pavilions for family reunions. Goblin Valley is a jumping off spot for many hiking destinations and ATV riding.
Green River State Park is a lovely patch of green in the desert. It's many shady camp spots offer a respite from the blazing sun of Green River in the summer months. The park has a view of the Green River and the Green River Golf Course surrounds the park on both sides. Green River State Park is a launching spot for boat trips along the Green River. The Green River is popular for swimming, boating and fishing.
Huntington State Park was the 16th stop on the 43-state park tour that began at noon May 12 from Antelope Island State Park.
The group of six people piled into the RV and drove 2,200 miles visiting all 43 state parks and returning back to Antelope Island May 15.
"The idea of the road trip is to showcase the importance, beauty and diversity of Utah's state park system and rally Utahns to come out and support their favorite state parks, and state parks in their communities," said Barbara Riddle.
Riddle, Chris Dallin, Tim Hughes, Russ Smith, Bill Francis and Vaughn Jacobsen were the trekkers who shared close quarters in an RV as they visited the parks. The trip was funded privately and through in-kind donations: RV provided by All Access Recreation Club, cash from Chevron, promotion by KSL Radio, satellite communication by Skycall Communications and videography by The Imagination Company. During and after the trip, the Road Trippers will blog, and share video and photos through updates on their website at www.utahstateparksroadtrip.com.
"We challenge every Utahn to visit a state park this year, if we can do all 43 parks in three days, you can visit one," said Russ Smith with Skycall Communications.
The Road Trip coincided with the Utah Tourism Conference and National Tourism Week, and is an official Travel Day Event designated by U.S. Travel.
Tourism is one of Utah's largest industries, generating $6.2 billion in traveler spending every year and $625 million in state and local taxes. Utah's state parks alone host nearly 5 million visitors annually.
Established by the 1957 Utah Legislature, the state park system has been a recent target of budget cuts, stripped of $8.3 million in general funds over the last four years. With no new funding in sight for operations or replacement of aging facilities, the Road Trippers want to raise awareness about potential state park closures.