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Visitors to the Salt Lake City area will want to spend some time at East Canyon Reservoir. This 680-acre reservoir is located about 30 miles northeast of Salt Lake City on the border of the Northwest and Mountainland tourism regions. The lake is a popular spot for fishing, boating and all types of water sports. Although East Canyon Reservoir was originally dammed in 1898 and expanded several times, the current reservoir was built in 1966. It dams East Canyon Creek for irrigation and household purposes, with recreational uses playing an increasingly important role. Although technically under the ownership of the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Reclamation, arrangements have been made to allow the State of Utah to manage the area for recreation. East Canyon Reservoir State Park adds yet another dimension to the many recreational opportunities provided at nearby ski resorts.
The first-time visitor to Utah is amazed at the wide range of geological formations present within a small area. To the west of Salt Lake City, the Salt Flats stretch for many miles past Great Salt Lake. Immediately to the east of the city, the mountains begin to rise above the valley floor. The canyons and passes are filled with the history of settlement in Utah and places farther west. These historical areas have found a new role in providing recreation to the growing population of the Salt Lake Valley and the increasing numbers of vacationers who come here.
East Canyon Reservoir, tucked behind the northern Wasatch front, has been stocked with rainbow trout, smallmouth bass, brown trout, black crappie and cutthroat trout to delight the fisherman. The entire shoreline is public lands but access by car is limited to the eastern shore. East Canyon Reservoir State Park offers 267 acres including a boat launch, rest rooms, fish cleaning station, showers and covered pavilions with electricity. During the summer months a concession provides boat rentals and snacks. A full-service campground is open year-round and can handle RVs up to 35-feet long. The swimming area is popular and many come here to sail, wakeboard, water-ski and jet-ski
Plenty of hiking trails exist in the park. Elk, mule deer, turkey, ruffed grouse and waterfowl can be viewed along with a variety of birds and wildflowers in season. East Canyon Reservoir sees visitors in the winter months who come to ice fish, cross country ski and snowshoe. Although access is by all-weather road, the southern route is sometimes closed in winter due to snow conditions. The northern route is usually passable year round. Visitors looking for downhill ski slopes usually visit one of the nearby ski resorts in the Park City area a bit over 20 miles away.
The East Canyon Reservoir area first greeted the famed Donner party on their way to California. It is suspected that the Donner group ended up stranded in the California pass bearing their name because they chose the rough passage though the East Canyon area. The trail required much improvement before they could get their equipment through the passes, making them late in arriving at Donner Pass and causing them to be stranded. The improved trail they left likely led Brigham Young and his band of Mormon followers to the Salt Lake area. The ruts left by the wagons of pioneers can still be seen in East Canyon Reservoir State Park.
Visitors to East Canyon Reservoir area will want to follow some of the historic trail and learn the history of the Mormon settlers who built the foundations of the state they hoped to call Deseret. On the outskirts of Salt Lake City, This Is The Place Heritage Park holds a monument to the place Brigham Young rose from his sickbed and announced this would be the place for his followers to build a new life. The reconstructed village holds several authentic buildings from early pioneer settlements, along with faithful reproductions of typical village edifices. Craftsmen demonstrate old skills such as blacksmithing and tin work for visitors. Here too, visitors can view the proposed Deseret alphabet, designed to make communication easier for immigrants.
Nearby in Salt Lake City, tours are available of ornate Mormon Temples and other architecture. Those interested in the inland salt sea of Great Salt Lake can travel twenty miles west of the city to the Great Salt Lake Marina State Park. Here they can weight anchor for Antelope Island State Park and view bison, pronghorn antelope and bighorn sheep, mule deer, coyotes, bobcats, badgers, porcupines, jackrabbits and several species of rodents. Antelope Island and the Great Salt Lake attract great numbers of migrating and nesting birds. Along the shoreline, willets, sanderlings, avocets and black-necked stilts can be observed. The island grasslands provide habitat for chuckars, burrowing owls, long-billed curlews and several species of raptors. The island park is accessible by causeway from Interstate 15.
East Canyon Reservoir visitors will likely want to visit Park City 20 miles to the south. This booming resort town is known for ski resorts and all types of winter sports. The city has become very popular with those able to enjoy a second home or ski residence. Along with the explosive real estate growth, unique shopping, art galleries, restaurants and lodgings have grown up in the area to cater to these part-time residents. There are mountain bike trails and hiking paths for summer visitors, along with golf, tennis, skateboarding and physical fitness facilities. One popular trail area, the Historic Union Pacific Rail Trail State Park, begins in Park City. This 28-mile trail for non-motorized use parallels Interstate 80 and ends at Echo Reservoir.
Fifteen miles north of East Canyon Reservoir, a unique geological feature called the Devil's Slide can be viewed next to Interstate 84. Two parallel ridges of limestone stand in high relief against softer eroded stone to form what looks like a giant child's slide of rock. Several similar formations in the area show the same combined effects of erosion and geological upheaval. Surrounding the East Canyon area the Wasatch National Forest provides miles of wilderness for hiking, camping and exploring. The experienced hiker will want to obtain a map from the US Forest Service of the area they wish to visit. Maps and pertinent information are available on-line.
The area around East Canyon Reservoir is prepared for the visitor with vacation rentals and guest lodgings available either in Park City or the surrounding canyons. Real estate opportunities exist in the immediate area, including 20-acre ranch lots for home building. So pack the fly rod and the bass boat and come follow the trail of the early pioneers. Explore scenic Utah and East Canyon Reservoir. You'll come back time and time again.
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