Sugar House Park reopens to cars

The park’s roadway had been closed to vehicles for more than a month because of flood control.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Sugar House Park reopens to cars on Friday, May 26, 2023, as high waters from Parleys Creek recede. The park had been closed to vehicles since at least April 22, 2023, because of overflow from the creek.

More than a month after Sugar House Park was first closed to vehicles because of overflow from Parleys Creek, the park’s roads have reopened.

There’s still a possibility that the park, which is designed as a detention basin, could once again close to cars. “But we were told it’s highly likely that that is over now,” Salt Lake County Parks and Recreation Department spokesperson Callista Pearson said.

In the meantime, flooding officials will continue to monitor the park, which serves as a temporary holding space for Parleys Creek flood control.

It was first closed to cars on April 15 as water from spring runoff and upstream reservoir releases crept across the park’s main road. It was then closed to vehicles again on April 22 as the park’s pond began to overflow its banks.

“It worked exactly the way it was supposed to, and now it’s open in time for Memorial Day weekend,” Pearson said. “And, I mean, obviously the ducks loved it.”

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Mallards gained an expanded body of water as flood waters sent the Sugar House Park pond over its banks.

Not just the ducks — a lot of people, too, were happy about the road closure. As it turned out, limiting the park to pedestrians didn’t mean it was empty of visitors.

“It was well utilized even with the gates closed,” Pearson said. “It’s been very interesting. There’s been a lot of mixed response. People really enjoyed having the park closed to vehicles.”

Responses to a tweet from the parks and recreation department on Friday, which announced that the park had been reopened to vehicles, included comments such as: “Can we keep it closed?! Parks are best for people, not cars”; “NOOOOOOOOOO”; and “Welp, it was fun while it lasted …”

For the past week, crews have been cleaning up debris left behind by the flood waters to prepare for the road’s reopening. Areas where the roadway was inundated have been inspected to assure it was not damaged.

“They made sure the road was safe,” Pearson said, adding that it’s “ready to go now.”

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) High water levels in Salt Lake City's Sugar House Park on Wednesday, April 26, 2023.