SPANISH FORK — Authorities are reminding recreationists to park in designated parking spots in canyons after officers issued 19 citations Sunday to drivers who illegally parked near a popular trailhead in Spanish Fork Canyon.
The citations were issued for cars that were illegally parked along Diamond Fork Road near Fifth Water Hot Springs in Spanish Fork Canyon, Utah County Sheriff’s Sgt. Spencer Cannon said. The parking lot at the Fifth Water Hot Springs trailhead holds about 20 to 30 cars, but the lot often fills up quickly and cars often park on the road, which leads to problems, Cannon added.
“It’s amazing to me that they’ll come to this trailhead to hike up to the hot pots, and they’ll hike uphill for a mile and a half, but they don’t want to hike another couple hundred yards before and after (to get to) where you can legally park,” he said. “It’s just that one particular area where the road is so narrow that they want to park. … It’s a public highway, and you can’t park in such a way that prevents other traffic from getting through.”
Authorities fear that — in a worst-case scenario — a crowded road would be either difficult or impossible for emergency vehicles to pass during a life-threatening situation, such as a fallen hiker or someone experiencing a medical issue. But it’s also a pain for other motorists trying to move up and down the road who may get stuck because they are blocked in.
The Fifth Water Hot Springs along Diamond Fork Road in Spanish Fork Canyon are a popular attraction year round. And parking problems are also common year round. Many people choose to ignore clearly posted "NO PARKING" signs. (1 of 3) @UCSO@UWCNFpic.twitter.com/XutJXQgjsa— Spencer Cannon (@SGTCannonPIO) October 9, 2019
That’s why signs were placed along the road to let drivers know where they cannot legally park.
“It’s a very narrow road down there, where it’s difficult — or you have to be careful in order to get two cars to be able to pass each other. But then you have people parking on the road,” Cannon said. “This has historically been a problem for us, so the Forest Service has put signs up there that says ‘no parking,’ and it extends a couple of hundred yards both ways before and after the entrance of the parking lot at the trailhead.”
He said the area is typically busy and it’s not completely uncommon for drivers to be cited for illegally parking on the road or even have their vehicles towed in some instances; but the citations issued Sunday were well above normal.
Illegally parking near a trailhead isn’t unique to Spanish Fork Canyon. People flood to all sorts of spots throughout this time of the year to enjoy fall hikes. Deputies have issued similar citations near the Aspen Grove parking lot near Sundance in Provo Canyon and have assisted Utah Highway Patrol troopers who deal with illegal parking on state Route 92 (Alpine Loop) in American Fork Canyon.
Cannon hopes the recent citations will send a message that authorities will enforce the no-parking rules to help keep people moving.
“If people can just plan ahead and realize those problems might come up,” Cannon said, “then they might have to think: 'OK, if I can’t get parking where I want, then I’ll have to walk a little further in order to get there.'”