Utah State Parks Blog

The Pond at Willard Bay “Oar-ficially” Opens!

August 9, 2022 

Check out the video at the bottom of this article!

The Division opted to cut a paddle for the ceremony instead of a traditional ribbon.

WILLARD BAY STATE PARK — If you haven’t been to Willard Bay State Park in a while, you’re in for a surprise. A brand new pond day-use area is officially open!

The park hosted a “paddle cutting” event on Thursday, August 4, 2022, putting a unique twist on a traditional ribbon-cutting ceremony by sawing a paddle in half with a chainsaw. Utah State Parks staff members were joined at the event by local legislators, vendors, and community members who were instrumental in seeing this project to completion.

James Morgan, Manager of Willard Bay State Park, shared the backstory of the pond in his remarks, “When they raised the dyke some years back, they took a bunch of material out of this spot and it left a hole.” 

James Morgan, Willard Bay State Park Manager prepares his chainsaw for the paddle cutting.

Morgan joked that park staff members referred to it as “the hole” long before it became “the pond.” Not only was it an eyesore, but mosquitos in the area posed a major concern. They also knew the busy park could benefit from a new day-use area that was removed from motorized watercraft. Instead of just refilling the hole, they expanded it and hauled in approximately 10 tons of sand from Tooele to create the beaches. 

Willard Bay officially became a state park in 1966 and has been a recreation favorite ever since—in fact, it’s one of the busiest parks in the state! Known for its marinas, Willard Bay State Park is a Utah hotspot for boating and water sports. 

Because the new pond day-use area does not allow motorized crafts of any kind, it’s practically a paradise for paddle boarding and kayaking. It is even deep enough at one end to certify scuba divers, so be sure to wear your life jacket. 

The pond day-use area features inflatable trampolines and waterslides.

Adventure-seekers can take advantage of the inflatable trampolines and waterslides that sit right on the water. And if just getting away from it all is more your vibe, you’ll want to claim a relaxing spot on the sandy beaches where you can soak up the vitamin D to your heart’s content (just don’t forget your sunscreen). 

The new pond day-use area also has ample paved parking (400 spots), convenient restrooms, and outdoor showers—making it a great family destination.

Jeff Rasmussen, Director of the Utah Division of State Parks thanked the legislature for their support at the event, sharing, “Five years ago, we were at about five million visitors a year,” Rasmussen said. “We’re now at over twelve million visitors. Projects like this are giving us the ability to accommodate all those people.”  

Celebrating the opening of the new pond day-use area at Willard Bay State Park.

Utah State Parks, in partnership with the Utah State Legislature and local communities, work together to expand and improve our beautiful state parks. The pond day-use area at Willard Bay State Park adds a unique new space for visitors to spread out at an already busy park. Improvement projects like these also help to energize the local economies. Visitors to state parks often stay at local hotels, eat at restaurants, and frequent stores and gas stations. The improvement and expansion of park amenities also create jobs for contractors, park staff, private concessionaires, and more.

See the video below for highlights from the event, and be sure to follow us on social media for updates about more exciting projects like this one!

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