Utah County residents are rediscovering Utah Lake amid coronavirus

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A man out boating on Utah Lake. The lake has seen more visitors this season than ever before, and the Utah Lake Commission is excited to see the change. (Preston Crawley)

Utah Lake is surrounded by rumors, from stories about the wild lake monster to stories about the water’s smell, and Sam Braegger is on a mission to separate the fact from the fiction.

Braegger is the outreach coordinator for the Utah Lake Commission, and he’s also the host of the commission’s new podcast titled, Utah Lake: Facts, Fiction, Fun.

The podcast began early this year and covers all sorts of topics related to the lake. There are stories about different recreation activities, facts about preservation programs and historical anecdotes about the lake.

Braegger said the commission decided to start the podcast after reaching out to people at a booth and discovering how quickly people’s ideas about the lake changed after they were able to talk to a representative from the commission about the rumors they’d heard and the misunderstandings they had.

“We love to be able to help talk about the lake and help people get down there and have a good time,” Braegger said.

More people than usual have been spending time at the lake this year, according to Jason Thomson, the park’s superintendent for American Fork. He said this time last year the American Fork harbor had made $8,943 in sales. This year they’re at $31,861 as of June 3.

Thomson said he thinks the increase is mostly due to the coronavirus pandemic. He said coming to the lake is a good way to get outdoors and have a good time while still maintaining social distancing regulations.

“We just felt like the harbor could stay open and provide a place for people to get away and to not be cooped up in their house,” Thomson said.

Activities at the lake vary. According to Braegger, there are 27 public access points at Utah Lake, and the majority of them are free. There are five different public marinas where people can put their own boats in the lake or rent boats and other supplies.

The Lindon Marina, the only one of the five that is privately owned, has also seen a huge increase in visitors this season, according to owner Ron Madsen. He said originally he was surprised by the huge turnout.

“I thought with restrictions and just common sense there would be less people coming,” Madsen said.

The Lindon Marina holds multiple weekly events, including sailing races every Thursday evening that are open to anyone, with or without sailing experience. They’ve canceled some of their larger events that they usually hold annually, like a lakeside lantern festival.

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