If you save it, they will come: How recreation and tourism are already surging at the Great Salt Lake

Dec 18, 2023, 6:24 AM | Updated: May 15, 2024, 12:28 pm

FILE: A band plays at Saltair, in the late teens or early 1920s. (Utah State Historical Society)

(Utah State Historical Society)

SALT LAKE CITY — These days, the Great Salt Lake State Park and Marina are much busier than they were a few years ago.

“We’ve seen the tourism double here since the beginning of the pandemic,” said Dave Shearer, the Great Salt Lake State Park manager. “We’ve seen a 40% increase just this year alone.”

In Utah’s early days of statehood, this was a typical site for the Great Salt Lake Shores. Restaurants and bars used to sit near the shore, people would come out in droves for the weekend, and events were frequently held at the Great Saltair.

“Back in the 1800s, there would be 10,000, 15,000 people that would come out here to the Saltair Resort on a weekend,” Shearer said.

Cars and transportation became cheaper and more convenient after World War II, taking Utahns further away to recreate, and the emergence of Utah’s ski industry drove more people to the mountains. Lately, though, Shearer is encouraged to see the bustle on the Great Salt Lake build back up.

He says people going outside and staying close to home during the pandemic helped drive that, but so have discussions about the lake being in danger of drying up.

“People in the Wasatch Front are really seeing what it is and coming out and experiencing it,” Shearer said.

A sailboat on the Great Salt Lake. (KSL TV)

While a lot of the recreation has been from hikers, kayakers, and swimmers, the rise in water levels this year allowed people to get boats back on the water. Shearer said about 60 boats were able to get to the Great Salt Lake from the State Park Marina this year …

There’s more! Please see the complete story at KSLTV.com.


Related: What vital signs will show us that the Great Salt Lake is improving?

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If you save it, they will come: How recreation and tourism are already surging at the Great Salt Lake