Fred Hayes State Park was originally named Starvation State Park, after the reservoir it surrounds. Starvation State Park was established in 1972, two years after the Bureau of Reclamation’s constructed the dam, which created the 3,495 surface acre reservoir as part of the Central Utah Water Project.
The name “Starvation” has been credited to two legends. One says that a group of mountain men caught in winter snows survived by stealing a cache of food belonging to local American Indians, and as a result the Indians starved. The second and more common legend tells the opposite story, with the Indians stealing the trappers’ cache of food and leaving the trappers to starve. It is very likely, however, that neither legend, even if true, resulted in the naming of the dam and reservoir.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, cattlemen and homesteaders founded a small settlement along the banks of the Strawberry River in the area now occupied by the reservoir and dam. Their story is one of hardship and perseverance as they struggled to survive in a harsh, hostile environment. Winters were hard, long, and extremely cold. Their cattle and livestock often froze during these winter months, and the short growing season was hindered by flooding, hailstorms, early frosts, and other calamities. Many perished from hunger. The remaining homesteaders nicknamed the area “Starvation,” and it was from this reference that the reservoir, dam, and state park received their names.
In 2019, the park was rededicated in memory of Fred Hayes, who was the director of the Utah Division of Parks and Recreation from 2012 until his death in 2018. Fred Hayes began his career with Utah State Parks in 1982 as a seasonal ranger at Starvation. Over time, he moved upward through the ranks, eventually becoming a beloved and successful Division Director. When he passed away, the Utah State Legislature and Governor Herbert passed a resolution that changed the park’s name to Fred Hayes State Park at Starvation to honor Mr. Hayes’ positive impact on the Division, recreation, and the state.
Secluded and beautiful, Fred Hayes State Park at Starvation abounds with natural diversity and recreational opportunities of all kinds. The annual walleye fishing tournament has become a popular event, with trophy fish weighing over 10 pounds caught nearly every year. The scenic beauty of 3,500 acres of park land, the dazzlingly blue waters of the reservoir, remote beaches, and numerous coves makes this a favorite destination for boating enthusiasts statewide.
Opened to the public as a state park in 1972.
Park Elevation: 5,712 feet