It used to be we would have a lot of the spring break people come without ATVs just here to party. I think a lot of those people have chosen to go elsewhere. —Juab County Sheriff Alden Orme
DELTA — Thousands of people from around the state are gearing up for an Easter weekend at the Little Sahara Sand Dunes, and local law enforcement is prepared to prevent potential problems and accidents.
Many of them are already there, saving a place for family and friends before the big crowds get here. By Friday night, 25,000 to 30,000 people will be at the popular Sand Mountain camping area in Millard County.
With nearly 60,000 acres of dunes, trails and sagebrush flats, there is something for every level of rider, from Sand Mountain, which has a wall of sand climbing nearly 700 feet high, to the dunes southwest of Black Mountain, which provide good terrain for beginners.
Stu Adams loves Little Sahara, and there is one reason why: speed. "You can race without getting a ticket," he said.
He arrived before Easter weekend, trying to get in some riding time before the crowds arrive to Little Sahara. "It's dangerous when there's a whole lot of people on there. You’ve got 10 coming down and 50 going up and it's dangerous," he said.
To help control the potential for accidents, Juab County Sheriff Alden Orme and his deputies patrol the sand dunes on big weekends. For the past several years, he has worked to change the environment and attitude of the crowds.
"It used to be we would have a lot of the spring break people come without ATVs just here to party," Orme said. “I think a lot of those people have chosen to go elsewhere."
That's because many people were leaving with big fines and even in handcuffs. "We have no tolerance on drugs and underage drinking. Anybody we catch, we cite and arrest," he said.
With the area more family-friendly, ATV safety is the major concern. Inexperienced riders, the volume of ATVs and changing sand conditions are all factors that worry Orme on Easter weekend.
It’s been just more than two weeks since there was a serious accident in the area, but Orme is concerned that’s going to change in the next day or two.
There is a first aid station at the Little Sahara visitor center, but the closest clinic is Central Valley Medical Clinic in Nephi, about 27 miles east of Jericho Junction. On busy holiday weekends, medical workers are stationed close by, along with medical helicopters, in case someone is seriously hurt.
About 100 law enforcement officials from all over the state will be patrolling the area this weekend.
Though there has been a lot of wind in the area, for the die-hard sand enthusiasts, this is a weekend they look forward to all year long.