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BEAR LAKE – As low water levels are shutting down boat ramps around the state, park managers at Bear Lake State Park are seeing some of their biggest crowds ever.
"I've seen more people with their vehicles and their boat trailers parked at our four launch ramps than I'd ever seen before," said Richard Droesbeke, the Bear Lake park manager. "So that shows us that we're coming up."
Bear Lake's open ramps and large beaches are drawing vacationers as they escape the record heat.
The drought has caused several issues around Utah, but Bear Lake officials said the low water levels have made their beaches bigger, allowing for a higher capacity.
"For our business where the water's down now, approximately about 10 feet, vertical feet from normal, from high level, we can park a lot of people on the beach here," said Brian Hirschi, owner of Bear Lake Fun, a recreational facility. "Probably about triple what we can normally park."
State park officials said they typically would close the park at around 400 cars. Right now, they say they can keep going.
"Last year with COVID, we were up in numbers, basically a record year last year," Hirschi said. "Now this year, we're up 50% from last year. After last year, everything outdoor became suddenly, you know, extremely popular."
As more people are heading to the lake, Hirschi says the Coronavirus pandemic is impacting boat rental availability. Bear Lake Fun ordered six boats roughly a year ago and recently only received four of the six. Hirschi says the other two boats won't make it to Bear Lake until the season is over. But with overall numbers up, he says he's not complaining.