State Parks Adds Pre-Pay Option: To Protect Staff And Check Residency

Utah State Parks is implementing a new system to protect their staff and make sure those using the parks are authorized to be there.

A new pre-pay option allows visitors to pay their park day-use fee online prior to visiting a state park. Those purchasing a pre-paid day use pass online will also be asked to verify they are a resident of the county where the state park is located.

As we’ve reported, Governor Gary Herbert’s Stay at Home directive means that out of county travel is allowed only for essential activities. It also prevents those living in one county, to visit a state park in another county. So, those living in Summit County are not allowed to use the state parks, like Wasatch, Deer Creek and Jordanelle in Wasatch County. See our earlier story about problems at a state park.

By prepaying, State Parks is hoping to limit visitor interaction with its park staff at the entrance gates.

Each state park has links to their online pre-pay option posted on their individual park webpages at After purchasing the day-pass, visitors can either print their receipt or show a digital copy to gate staff at the state park in order to gain entry.

Park visitors are asked to practice #ResponsibleRecreation, which means honoring the social distance of others, avoiding crowded trailheads and areas, and keeping parks and facilities clean.

To learn more about what steps the Division is taking during the COVID-19 pandemic, visit the official Utah State Parks COVID-19 webpage.

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Heber Valley Artisan Cheese held their 2nd annual Ice Sculptures Exhibition this weekend. Several local businesses sponsored the sculptures being displayed. There were also two different ice carving demonstrations. The event was free to the public.

The annual event began last year when Carolee Kohler saw ice sculpting on a Hallmark movie and thought it would be a fun idea for their farm. They are also considering a woodcarving event.

According to Lindsey Strother, social media and events coordinator, each sculpture takes between 1-3 hours to carve. “We contacted Amazing Ice Creations back in November, and we reached out to local companies to sponsor the ice sculptures,” she said. “Yesterday morning around 9 am, they came in a massive truck and dropped them all off for us, and we set them up.”

Along with the ice sculptures, sponsors receive a sign and canopy for the display and social media marketing. The sponsors decide what they want to have sculpted. After the event, they can take the ice sculptures and display them at their businesses. The creations normally last a couple of weeks. Some will be left in the field and can be viewed throughout the week.

The ice this year included Olaf, company logos, animals, and other items. Darron Kingston, the sculptor, has carved ice for over 10 years with his dad. According to Kingston, “I like sculptures that give me a challenge. Here, for example, my favorite was the lumberjack.” One of his favorite past creations was a 9-foot bear.

Grant Kohler, owner of Heber Valley Artisan Cheese, explained, “We decided to do something that was free and something that people could just get out and come and enjoy. Especially this year with Covid, it seems like Januarys are slow months. People are looking for things to be able to get outside and do.” He continued, “Businesses pay in and buy the sculptures, we have them sculpted, and then we just let people come and enjoy them.” Kohler estimated around 3,000 to 4,000 people will stop by the event.

The dairy farm also offers cheese-making classes and tours of their new robotic barn. “The tours are everyday except Sunday,” according to Kohler. “People hayride over, intermingle with the cows, see the barn and amenities, and watch the cows be milked. The cows will literally go get milked on their own.” Tickets for the tours and other events are available on the Heber Valley Artisan Cheese website: