Crowds in American Fork Canyon nearly double in last few years

Mike DeBernardo, Deseret News

Levi Dean and his family hit the dirt roads in American Fork Canyon on a side-by-side vehicle on Saturday, June 17, 2017. Dean said while getting ready for a ride in the canyon that he gave up the four-wheeler so that his entire family could ride together.

AMERICAN FORK CANYON — Levi Dean and his family love to get away from it all from time to time. To do so, they hit the dirt roads in American Fork Canyon as often as possible.

The only problem is, it seems like everybody else has discovered their family’s favorite spot, too.

“Over the last, I’d say 10 years, (the number of visitors has) exploded,” Dean said.

Ever since side-by-sides in American Fork Canyon became popular, visitation numbers have almost doubled — from about 1 million visitors a year to roughly 2 million a year, according to Kathy Jo Pollock, spokeswoman for Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest.

Russ Hanson, the district ranger for the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, said it’s been amazing to see all the utility task vehicles in the past few years, but he’s also not surprised. “The side-by-sides are car-like, so people get in them and they drive them like their car,” he said.

In the past, many people would visit the canyon to ride all-terrain vehicles, but Dean said that’s not really the case anymore.

“I got rid of…

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