Salt Lake City

Adherence to safety rules and common courtesy urged as isolation-anxious crowds jam City Creek Canyon

SALT LAKE CITY – While masses of walkers, runners and bicyclists enjoy warm weather and a break from COVID-19 isolation in City Creek Canyon, City officials are urging caution and “to play well with others” on the steep and winding canyon road.

Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities (SLCDPU) manages and maintains City Creek Canyon as a source of its drinking water and as a natural area. The City Creek Water Treatment Plant is three miles from the canyon entrance. The lush, urban oasis attracts thousands year-round as a convenient, recreational getaway, just minutes from downtown Salt Lake City. The watershed and recreation have co-existed for decades, largely because of rules that protect both water quality and people who play in the canyon.

“In the past few weeks, with the stay-home directives in place for COVID-19, we have seen very large numbers of people recreating in City Creek Canyon. It’s completely understandable, given everyone’s need for fresh air and a break from being homebound,” said SLCDPU Director Laura Briefer. “But with the increase in visitation of the canyon, it is more important than ever to adhere to established safety protocols when walking, running, and cycling the canyon road.

“We want people to enjoy the canyon, especially in this difficult time with so many routine activities off limit,” Briefer said. “But we want them to do so safely and with respect for others.”

Pedestrians are required to stay on the canyon’s stream side. Bicyclists must always stay on the right, traveling on the canyon’s stream side heading uphill, and on the slope side traveling downhill. The speed limit for motorized vehicles accessing picnic areas and bicycles is 15 mph. City-owned vehicles, which include heavy construction and maintenance equipment, can be present at any time on the road, further emphasizing the need for slower speeds and just paying attention.

The canyon also beckons to dog owners who want to escape home with their furry friends. Leashed dogs are allowed in the lower canyon. Dogs are prohibited beyond picnic site 16, where a sign just below the water treatment plant directs owners and their dogs to turn around.

In the end, everything comes down to being safe and courteous. Following a few simple safety rules will allow for everyone’s enjoyment and rejuvenation.

“The City Creek experience is beautiful, peaceful and restorative,” Briefer said. “We want residents and visitors to enjoy it, but always with safety in mind for themselves, for others and for our drinking water supply.”

Basic rules of the road in City Creek Canyon:

        ·        Pedestrians keep to the stream side of the canyon

        ·        Bicyclists always on the right–stream side on the uphill, slope side downhill.

        ·        Dogs always on leash, maximum 6-foot length (retractable leashes are highly discouraged)

        ·        Observe all posted speed limits 

        ·        Bicyclists should dismount and walk through the canyon entrance-exit area

        ·        “Go before you go.” Do not relieve yourself in the canyon

        ·        No camping in the canyon

        ·        Keep It Pure: Pack out what you pack in and leave no trace

For more information on City Creek and other canyon watershed guidelines and regulations, please visit:


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