Easter weekend kicks off western Utah’s outdoor recreation season, and as the ATVs come out in force, several off-road hotspots are busy preparing for an influx of campers and recreationalists.
Teresa Rigby, spokeswoman for the BLM’s West Desert District, said there will be BLM and law enforcement patrolling across Tooele County, including Knolls Special Recreation Management Area, and areas near the county that are popular outdoor destinations, like crowd-drawing Five-Mile Pass.
“We’ll be making sure folks are doing OK and helping with what we can,” Rigby said. “Law enforcement will be out there doing patrols. Hopefully people will be aware of what’s legal and what’s not in terms of operating their ATVs.”
On a typical Easter weekend, the BLM expects between 800 and 1,000 people at Knolls.“It’s not as large as some areas of visitation, but it’s a good amount, especially for an area where we typically have 20,000 people annually,” she said.Rigby added there are some specific regulations in place at Knolls that people need to follow. No glass is permitted, and fires need to be in a fire pan. Once a visitor is done with a fire, they need to bury the ashes to help keep the area clean.
Another problem is people who don’t act responsibly, according to Rigby.“You could have some folks who don’t want to play nicely when they visit areas like that because they want to cut loose,” Rigby said. “But the majority of people out there are really responsible and trying to follow the regulations.”
Little Sahara Recreation Area, one of the most popular destinations for county ATV enthusiasts, gets more than 320,000 visitors annually. Almost 10 percent of that traffic comes on Easter weekend alone.“If we continue to have beautiful weather, we expect our visitor numbers to be close to last year’s visitation of 32,000,” said Tim Finger, acting Little Sahara Recreation Area manager.The sand dune area in Juab County is gearing up accordingly, said Lisa Reid, public affairs specialist with the BLM Fillmore Field Office.To ease traffic congestion and speed up access into Little Sahara, the BLM will conduct traffic control on Thursday and Friday between 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. A flagman will direct visitors paying with cash to the pay booth. Check and credit card holders will be directed to the visitor’s center. Pre-paid visitors will be directed through the entrance into Little Sahara.
Reid added things people should know before visiting Little Sahara include the daily use fee for Easter weekend will be $10 per vehicle, which includes use of areas for one day and camping for one night. All four campgrounds will be open, water is on and toilets are working.Wooden pallets are not permitted, but firewood will be available from vendors. Safety flags are required for all OHVs. These will also be for sale on Vendors Row.
No one under the age of 8 is allowed to operate an OHV on public lands, trails or roads in Utah. Operators age 8 through 15 may operate an OHV provided they possess an education certificate issued by the Utah State Parks and Recreation, or equivalent from their home state. Operators aged 16 and older may operate an OHV with a valid driver’s license or approved OHV education certificate.
Unregistered vehicles will be ticketed, Reid said.“
We have confiscated several stolen motorcycles and four-wheelers — because they check registration,” she said, adding if a vehicle is not registered, it is quarantined until registration can be verified. “We find at least one a year that’s been stolen.”
Those visiting Sand Mountain at Little Sahara will be required to park 20 feet from paved roads.