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Thoughts on state park walks

By Merrill Ogden - | May 31, 2023

A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I went to Palisade State Park. We took a $65 walk. Several days later, we went to the park again. We took as $32.50 walk. The next time we go there, the walk will cost us $16.25.

Where is this math coming from? I’ll tell you. It’s a mathematical formula that I learned from my brother many years ago. He and his wife had purchased a travel trailer. I don’t remember what was paid, but for the sake of the example, let’s say it was $10,000.00.

The way he figured it, the first night they stayed in the trailer cost them $10,000. The second night cost $5,000. Using this financial method, the tenth night’s cost would be $19.53.

You get the idea. Over the years, with lots of usage, the per night cost became very reasonable, even with adding in annual maintenance and taxes.

So, at Palisade State Park, on our first visit this season, we bought a Senior Annual Day-Use Pass. The pass is good for access to the park for picnicking, fishing, walking, hiking, sunbathing, swimming, etc. (day use, not camping).

The pass cost $65. Now you know how our walks and hikes at the park are getting cheaper each time we go. When we get to the 10th visit to the park this season, our outing will cost us about 13 cents.

A non-senior annual pass for day-use is $125. So, if you’re not lucky enough to be old, your math formula starts at a higher number. But with time, the cost of use gets small as well.

Of course, I realize that there are other ways of computing the costs of things like this. The first one that comes to mind, which is probably more logical, is the pure average method. By this method, my 10 visits to a state park on a $65 pass would cost me $6.50 for each time – still not a bad deal.

It’s a great time to go to Palisade right now. The lake is high and the water fowl are visiting. You can see geese with goslings on the east side. We’ve seen cranes as well.

There are wild flowers in bloom. The intense color of Indian Paint Brush is strikingly beautiful right now. The lavender Phlox and Narrowleaf Goldenbush are very pretty too. The flowers aren’t everywhere, but there are quite a few – especially up on the Ridge Trail.

There are 43 state parks in Utah. Sanpete has one and shares one. Yuba Lake State Park is in both Sanpete and Juab counties. We have 29 counties in Utah. So, we average more than one park per county.

When I was in seventh grade, we had to learn Utah’s 29 counties and county seats. I think I remember most, if not all, of them. Mrs. Jacobsen and her “whacking yardstick” seemed to have been an effective teacher of Utah History for me.

I was always glad that I didn’t live in Texas for the requirement of learning counties and county seats. Texas has 254 counties. Interestingly, Alaska has the same number of counties as Utah – 29. Rhode Island has five counties.

California has the most state parks of any state. There are 270 located there in its 58 counties. This is kind of interesting trivia to me (and perhaps to three or four of you readers).

While I’m off on a tangent, let me bore you further with some additional information. There are 63 national parks in the U.S. national park system.

My wife told me the other day about an elderly woman who had decided to visit all the parks. She had just completed her goal. I did some research.

Seven and a half years ago, Joy Ryan, along with a grandson, started a quest to visit all 63 national parks. Joy was 85 years old then.

Joy mentioned to her grandson, Brad Ryan, who is now 41 years old, that she regretted how few trips she had taken during her life. Having lived in Ohio, she had never seen the ocean or mountains. The first trip they took was to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee.

A week or so ago, at the age of 93, Joy fulfilled her quest by visiting her last national park – The National Park of American Samoa. She is the oldest living person to have visited all 63 national parks.

I think my wife would like to visit as many national parks as possible – maybe all sixty-three. I’m thinking a good first goal would be to visit all of Utah’s 43 state parks.

After all, using our mathematics formulas, we could do it for pennies by the time we’re done. That is, if we finish by December 31st of this year. That’s when our annual pass expires and we have to start doing the math all over again. — Merrill

P.S. — Inexplicably, to me (that’s an important qualifier – I’m none too smart), there is no pro-ration on the cost of an annual pass with Utah State Parks.

It used to be that a pass was valid for a full year, from date of purchase to the same date in the next year. No more. If you buy an annual pass in any month, like September, October or even December, you pay full price and it expires on Dec. 31 of that same year – even if that’s only a few weeks away.

What’s up with that? I guess I’d better get on the horn with my legislative representatives and see if they know what gives. Or if worse comes to worst, and I start losing sleep over this, I may have to pick up the red, hot-line phone to Gov. Spencer Cox and get this emergency handled.


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