After an eternal winter and unprecedented snowfall, the citizens of Utah are bracing for what promises to be a very wet and floody spring as our mountain snowpack rapidly melts in the record-breaking May temperatures and the runoff makes its way into the valley.

People living near creeks are keeping careful watch on the rising levels of liquid. The governor has issued a state of emergency, and hordes of volunteers are pouring sand into bags as the valley-dwellers prepare for the worst.

Which is wise. But it doesn’t hurt to also hope for the best.

And the best, in my opinion, will be summer months, after the dangerous water rush has subsided, when every person and every home remains unharmed by flooding, and every Utahn has access to beachfronts made possible by a crop of new, large bodies of water.

Gone will be the days when we had to hope our hottest friends would invite us on their houseboats for their Lake Powell trips. No longer will Bear Lake have a monopoly on family reunions.

In this ideal summer, everyone will live minutes away from a puddle large enough for a MasterCraft and a gaggle of water-skiers.

Sugarhouse Park has already transformed into Sugarhouse Lake, and nearby residents have wasted no time getting their paddle and surfboards on the water.

Other surprise ponds will likely include Provo’s Rock Canyon Park, which is days away from filling with frigid runoff water, and the detention basin in Farmington, created after the infamous ’83 floods and mudslides.

But it’s not just these planned locations that will become surprise ponds. Some unexpected makeshift (literal) watering holes already exist thanks to snowmelt, including the pit which was once Sears and will eventually become an Intermountain Health building in downtown Salt Lake City.

With the end of the school year looming, I’ve started the hunt for family-friendly activities that will occupy my kids’ time and attention this summer. I’ve already missed the registration window for most camps and am feeling a little panicked, thinking about the long days that lay ahead. So I decided to scope out the Sears Lake Beach and evaluate it for recreation potential whilst a Deseret News photographer snapped proof, much to the befuddlement of the nearby construction crew, the Intermountain Health facilities employee who was nice enough to let us through the gate, and Main Street pedestrians.

Here’s what I found.

Location

Meg Walter heads to the beach at the old Sears location, which has been torn down to make way for a new Intermountain Health hospital, in Salt Lake City on Monday, May 1, 2023. | Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

Location, location, location is something I’m told matters in real estate, and one could not ask for a better location than between 800 and 900 South and Main and State streets downtown. Is it picturesque, you ask? I mean, it doesn’t have the breathtaking red rock cliffs or the stunning mountain views of some other reservoirs, but it is near the city’s fanciest Taco Time and best taco cart, a number of auto body repair shops and a public health center, making it a one-stop shop for the hungry beachgoer with a car in need of repair and some public-health related inquiries. I’m at least one of those things at any given time.

10/10.

Swimability

Meg Walter heads to the beach at the old Sears location, which has been torn down to make way for a new Intermountain Health hospital, in Salt Lake City on Monday, May 1, 2023. | Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

Look, I sat through enough girls camp safety training meetings to know it's best to exercise caution when it comes to stagnant water. And since I recently had a toenail removed (yes, I’m very brave), I decided against risking Legionnaire’s disease and/or the hepatitises by coming in contact with the actual puddle while nursing an open wound.

If I’m being completely honest, I’ve never enjoyed the swimming part of swimming. I like the sitting next to water concept more than the getting in the water concept.

But I’m not here to stop you from taking a dip. The security gates are.

10/10.

Local flora and fauna

Rumor has it the makeshift lake is a favorite spot among the local seagull population, whom we as a people revere since they saved the pioneers from some crickets a couple of centuries ago, but whom I personally do not care for after a gull flew away with my entire turkey sandwich one afternoon at the park.

So I was relieved that the only wildlife I spotted was a loose piece of plastic in the water that looked like a fish when I squinted

In lieu of palm trees and sea plants, the pit has backhoes, dump trucks and construction debris, which I honestly prefer to the weird kelp that sneaks up on your shins when you wade in lakes or oceans.

10/10.

Overall

It’s hard to beat a private afternoon at an exclusive beach (which I got access to only after repeatedly harassing the good people at Intermountain), minutes from the office, with lots of nearby tacos and off-limits water.

It was a once-in-a-lifetime 10/10 experience.

Best of luck finding your own private waterfront this summer. There should be plenty.

Meg Walter heads to the beach at the old Sears location, which has been torn down to make way for a new Intermountain Health hospital, in Salt Lake City on Monday, May 1, 2023. | Spenser Heaps, Deseret News