There’s a new state parks employee in town, and he has some new plans for East Canyon State Park.
While the reservoir is a popular destination for boating, fishing and camping, Park Manager Chris Haramoto hopes to draw on the history of the area to increase visitors to the state park.
With a stretch of the Mormon Pioneer Trail in the park, East Canyon could be a great setting for a trek, where families and youth groups could re-enact the historic pioneers’ journey over 100 years ago. The trail through Morgan County was used by the Donner-Reed Party, Mormon pioneers, the Overland Stage and the Pony Express.
“This historic trail offers a lot of opportunities,” said Haramoto, who took over as park manager in September. “We have the resources there.”
He suggested the trek include going up Big Mountain to the county line.
The idea could turn around low visitation numbers to the state park, he said.
Haramoto said visitation numbers to East Canyon were low this year, probably due to the low water level.
But a trek isn’t his only idea.
“I want to come up with inventive ways to get people to visit the park even when the water level is low,” he said. “With the facilities East Canyon has to offer, we should be seeing more visitation at the park.”
The state park opened to the public in 1962. It now offers overnight camping; full RV hookups; furnished and heated yurts; furnished, heated and air conditioned cabins; and access to fishing and boating.
Haramoto said the yurts have proven a popular option, even into the winter months. He said one group chose to spend their Thanksgiving in a yurt at East Canyon.
He would like to try something that has been done at Hyrum State Park, where he was previously employed. A fish was tagged, and the person who retrieved that fish out of the reservoir could claim prizes from the local business community, he said.
“It would push people to those businesses once they get their fish,” he said. “It is important to work with local partners.”
He also envisions a February winter fest where participants can snowmobile, cross country ski, and snow shoe on or near the reservoir. A crayfish cook-off could also been in the cards, he said.
“Fun, new events will help us quite a bit,” Haramoto said. “The State is concerned with their bottom line. Budgets are obviously tight, but if we can continue to get more people to visit, it may help in the future.”
Haramoto is excited to see East Canyon as the site chosen to kick off the Jan. 25 Wasatch Back Quad-fishalon, which also involves Deer Creek, Rockport, and Jordanelle reservoirs. In the event, prizes will be awarded for the largest trout caught.
Despite unsuccessful past attempts, he would also like to plant trees for better shade in the area.
“Wildlife is a concern there,” he said. “It has had an impact on trees and vegetation.”
Most visitors are staying only one night, so Haramoto’s immediate goal is to increase those stays to two nights.