With temperatures staying well above 90 degrees and gas prices still sitting near $4 a gallon, Grand Valley residents are turning to Highline Lake State Park for some summer fun. But park officials say it might be wise to plan ahead if you're thinking about a weekend trip.
Grand Junction resident Adam Cochran comes to Highline Lake State Park every year, but he says he hasn't seen anything quite like what he saw on Sunday.
"It's very crowded today," said Cochran. "Especially for a Sunday."
Park officials say they haven't seen anything quite like it either. In June, revenues were up 18 percent, and they say July doesn't show any signs of slowing down.
"We've been parking cars in overflow and holding boats both Saturdays and Sundays," said Alan Martinez, Park Manager of Highline Lake State Park.
The park says it has been conducting a survey to find out why they've seen such an increase. Officials say visitors are telling them high gas prices are forcing them to have fun a little closer to home.
"People are still wanting to get their boats on the water and I don't believe they're wanting to make as many trips to Lake Powell as they typically would," said Martinez.
Others like Cochran say they just like coming to Highline.
"Even though it's crowded, there's still plenty of room to swim and have fun," said Cochran. "It's got a great picnic area. It's just a nice area all together."
With only two full-time and two part-time rangers on staff during the summer, park officials say they've had their hands full. While they say they haven't had to deal with any major incidents this year, Martinez says he's already planning on getting some more help for next summer.
"There's definitely been weekends we're almost ready for this to come to an end," said Martinez. "But as a whole, people are having fun and I enjoy seeing that."
With big weekend crowds expected through Labor Day weekend, park officials say getting there early is the only way to guarantee getting in at all.
Park officials say campsites are almost completely booked on weekends through Labor Day, so if you're planning on spending the night, make sure you have a reservation.
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