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Beaver County, in southwestern Utah, has a landscape characterized by breathtaking canyons, meandering rivers that flow through granite mountains, thick, green forests, deserts, historic mines, farm valleys, and peaceful meadows. Here in this diverse county is where you will find Minersville Reservoir lying in the low and arid valley of a desert.
Between the cities of Beaver to the east and Minersville to the west, Minersville Reservoir is in a region of Utah called Color Country. Appropriately named, the region has a rich and intriguing history that offers color and nuance to any history buff. Beaver is the birthplace of both Philo T. Farnsworth, the inventor of television, and Butch Cassidy, the infamous western outlaw. The area was also a magnet in the era of the California Gold Rush and fortune-seeking forty-niners. The discovery of rich repositories of silver in the mountains surrounding Minersville Reservoir helped create booming mining towns. Minersville, from where the reservoir takes its name, was called such out of respect to all the mine laborers that came to work in the area.
Once synonymous with the name Rocky Ford Reservoir, Minersville Reservoir was created as early as 1914 by an impoundment on Beaver River. The river flows from the magnificent heights of the Tushar Mountains, strengthened as it descends through various mountain tributaries. The river had several dams constructed by Mormon settlers; but none of these dams were as permanent a construction as the Rocky Ford Dam, which today stops the waters of the reservoir.
Since the lake is used to irrigate nearby farmlands, the water level varies throughout the year. Utah is a land of extremes, experiencing flood and droughts rather often. Multi-year, state-wide droughts occur about every 10 to 20 years. As a result of a state-wide drought that lasted from 1999 to 2004, Minersville Reservoir was completely drained by September of 2004. By October, the lake began to refill and trout and bass stockings were added to the rising water. Today the 990-acre Minersville Reservoir is considered a trophy trout fishery.
Rocky Ford Reservoir supports populations of rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, smallmouth bass and Utah chub. Brown trout may also be in the reservoir, since stockings of brown trout are planted in the drainage above the reservoir. There is a fishing restriction on the lake that allows the harvest of only one trout over 22 inches long, a rule established in the early 90s when the trout population was threatened by competing chubs and fish-eating birds. Another rule warns fishers to use only artificial flies or lures when fishing. Shore fishing and float tube fishing are just as popular and successful as boat fishing, particularly for trout, since the spawning adults are attracted to the shoreline when looking for the best locations to deposit their eggs.
In addition to great fishing, the reservoir also supports waterskiing and swimming. On 207 acres of land by the reservoir, there is a campground, paved boat ramp, sandy beach, flush toilets, hot showers, and picnic areas. Formerly Minersville State Park, the campground is now owned by Beaver County.
There are wonderful year-round birding opportunities around the Minersville Reservoir. Bird lovers can expect to catch sight of osprey, caspian tern, common loon, great-tailed grackle, and, during the winter, bald eagle. Flocks of swallows use the reservoir in the fall. For hunting, the irrigated farmland near Minersville and Milford to the north is good for pheasant and sage hen game.
Beaver County's friendly and welcoming residents, plus varied sightseeing and vibrant history, might tempt you to stray from the lake. The surrounding mountain ranges are known for fishing, hiking, and mule deer and elk hunting. To complement ice fishing on Minersville Reservoir in the winter, you might also want to check out one of the ski resorts in the mountains.
The Mineral Mountains appeal to rockhounds who can dig up all kinds of great finds in the rich deposits of the alpines: amethyst, smoky quartz crystals, obsidian, garnet, hematite and agate - stones popularly used in jewelry crafting - are just a few examples. Don't leave Beaver County without visiting Frisco, one of the most popular ghost towns in Utah. In its time, it had the richest silver mine in the country, saloons, hotels, gambling halls, its own newspaper, a popular red light district, and a few shoot-outs every day. Other attractions in Beaver County include horse racing, the Beaver Cheese Factory and the annual Butch Cassidy Festival.
If Beaver County has charmed you, vacation rentals and real estate options are available in the towns around Minersville Reservoir. Among the gorgeous scenery, high mountains, low deserts, wide valleys and farming communities, you can carve out a little peace of paradise for yourself. Take to the lake, throw a line into the teeming waters, and breathe in the solace of the desert's deep silence.
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