Facebook Twitter



City officials broke ground Monday on the park complex they say will protect the pristine character of Rock Canyon.

"Protecting this canyon has really been a big deal for the neighbors in this area," Mayor George Stewart said.More than 50 neighbors were on hand Monday as city officials turned the first shovel of dirt on Rock Canyon Trailhead Park, which will be built at about 1500 East and 2000 North. The park will include an educational center, an amphitheater, a pavilion, picnic areas and a 130-space parking lot. The parking lot will include spaces for horse trailers.

The park facility is an effort by city and Uinta National Forest officials to take back the canyon from vandals, off-road vehicles, gangs and drug users.

"When I learned about some of the activities taking place up that canyon I was appalled," Stewart said.

Officials want to limit access to the canyon to hikers, bicyclists and horseback riders. The paved roads leading to the current trailhead are now closed to motorized vehicles. Rock Canyon serves as access to the Great Western Trail and the Bonneville Rim Trail. Officials say they are not taking the canyon away from residents but preserving it, cleaning it up and making it safer.

"Many residents were afraid to use the canyon because of the graffiti, garbage and safety concerns. Now it will be a nicer area because of the controlled access," Stewart said.

Forest Service officials also want to educate novice hikers about the dangers of hiking Rock Canyon's steep ledges and might construct an information booth in the park. Over the years several hikers have fallen to their deaths in the canyon, and dozens of hikers are injured in the canyon each year.

In January, the city purchased the 3.6 acres for $400,000 from a development company that planned to build condominiums on the property. The Rock Canyon Preservation Alliance convinced the city the condominium project would ruin access to the canyon and encourage development farther onto the mountainside. Stewart said the park will put an eastern boundary on residential development at 1450 East.

"One of the strong concerns of residents is that development has gone far enough," he said.

The park will be completed in two phases at a cost of about $200,000. The first phase, scheduled for completion by June, will include landscaping, restrooms and the parking lot. Cost of the first phase will be about $100,000, with half of that amount coming from a state non-motorized trail grant and the rest coming from the Utah County restaurant tax. The second phase will include the education area and amphitheater.

"We haven't set that time yet because we haven't identified the funding for that phase," Stewart said.