Police, firefighters and public utilities officials are reminding those who recreate in City Creek Canyon about its safety protocols because they say there has been "an increase in accidents, close calls and injuries" in the popular canyon.

The canyon draws in many runners and bicyclists, as well as people who walk on the 6.5-mile stretch of narrow roadway, which has many twists and blind turns. It's also all downhill for those traveling back to the mouth of the canyon, so it's easy for incidents to occur.

Salt Lake City Fire Capt. Shaun Mumedy said the increase isn't solely emergency calls, per se, but also an increase in first-hand and second-hand accounts that Salt Lake City Police Department, Salt Lake City Fire Department and Salt Lake City Public Utilities have all received in recent months that ultimately prompted a need to remind visitors about the rules.

"Sometimes we get reports from citizens who may have had a negative experience in the canyon, whether they were a bicyclist, runner, pedestrian or from a (motorist)," he told KSL.com on Thursday. "Some of those interactions can be unpleasant and they don't necessarily call 911 at the time that they happen, but they do later."

Salt Lake City Fire Chief Karl Lieb added that many of these incidents appeared to be "preventable."

"We've responded to various accidents due to excessive speed from both cyclists and vehicles," he said in a statement. "With the increased summertime activity in the canyon, we are asking the public to please pay attention to the posted speed limits and avoid injuries,"

There are safety protocols in place for the canyon that seek to avoid these issues. For example, motor vehicles are only allowed up the canyon on even-numbered days from Memorial Day to the end of September, while bicycles are only allowed on odd-numbered days and on all holidays.

Other safety rules are:

  • A speed limit of 15 mph for all vehicles, including bikes and e-bikes. The three departments say they have received many accounts of bicyclists traveling downhill at speeds over 40 mph.
  • Pedestrians and bicyclists traveling up the canyon must keep to the stream side of the canyon, while bicyclists traveling down the canyon must stay to the right, closer to the slope side.
  • Bicyclists should dismount and walk through the canyon entrance-exit area.

"I cannot stress enough the importance of safe driving not only throughout our city but especially in our most highly used recreational areas," said Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown. "These locations are not just popular destinations for enjoyment, they are also cherished spaces where families gather and communities grow."

There are other rules that tie into the canyon's role as a watershed, too. For example, dogs are allowed in the canyon, but only up to picnic area No. 16. They must always remain on a leash with a maximum length of 6 feet.

Since it is a watershed, the agencies say people should "go before you go," and not relieve themselves in the canyon. There are a handful of bathrooms in the canyon. There's no camping in the canyon, either.

Meanwhile, Salt Lake City Public Utilities also posted a reminder on social media on Wednesday that campfires and other outdoor fires are banned in the canyon because of wildfire risks, even in developed recreation sites. Visitors can still use propane-fueled camping stoves.