OREM Fourth of July in Utah County mostly involves Stadium of Fire, hot-air balloons and Freedom Days along Center Street in Provo, but many people also made an escape into the county's canyons.
From American Fork to Santaquin, Utah County is dotted with canyons that invite sightseers, campers, hikers and climbers to take refuge in the quiet and the cool. Whether it's wanting to escape the Miley Cyrus mayhem or trying to save gas, Utah County and U.S. Forest Service officials were expecting a high turnout of visitors to the mountains this weekend.
"Everything we've heard indicates that people are sticking around closer to home," said Joel Racker, president and chief executive officer for the Utah Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Local state parks and the Timpanogos Cave National Monument are expected to have large turnout because of the high gas prices, he said.
"People are cutting back where they can, and they still want to get back out and recreate," he said. The visitors center in Provo has seen numerous people asking about the local canyons and campgrounds, Racker said.
"I'm anticipating the canyons and the campgrounds and attractions will do very well," he said.
Most campgrounds throughout Utah County run by the Forest Service are full, said Loyal Clark, spokeswoman for the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest Service. The Forest Service controls about 16 campgrounds in Utah County. She expected that by noon Thursday, all reserved and first-come, first-served campgrounds would be full.
The Forest Service is expecting the day-use traffic for picnics, fishing and hiking also will be higher because of gas prices, Clark said.
Clark warned that Forest Service rangers, Utah County sheriff's deputies and the Utah Highway Patrol will be enforcing parking along the roads. When parking at the picnic and camping areas fills, many people park alongside the road, which is prohibited. She also noted that fireworks are illegal year-round in the national forests.
Timpanogos Cave National Monument in American Fork Canyon also anticipates high attendance this weekend, and anyone intending to make a trek to the cave should plan on making reservations. The cave is an ideal place to be on a hot day temperatures inside the cave hover consistently around 43 to 45 degrees.
"There are a very few times during the summer when we turn folks away," said Denis Davis, superintendent. "This Fourth could be one of those."
Davis added that the picnic areas should be full this weekend.Bears have been seen in every canyon in Utah County this year, and anyone intending to spend time in the mountains should be aware of them, Clark said. Clean campsites will deter wildlife from entering, she said. Campers also should be responsible with campfires, keep them small and have a bucket of water and dirt on hand, and make sure a fire is completely extinguished before they leave the campsite, Clark said.
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