Utah’s Beautiful Blue Canal That Is Going Viral Could Actually Be “Unsafe”

The following video featuring paddlers in a stunning blue canal in beautiful Utah is certainly eye-pleasing. But it’s worth doing a bit of research before just getting too excited and adding an activity to your bucket list.

It’s not like you need any more reasons to visit Utah anyway. It is arguably one of the most beautiful US States, with its 5 National Parks, beautiful mountains, and a unique “salt desert” (we’ve already shared a few posts about traveling to Utah).

 

The Utah blue canal video

In recent days, videos like this one have started to go viral:

 

 
 
 
 
 
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It’s easy to see why it is so popular. It sure looks like an amazing spot, with the epic surroundings as well.

The bright blue canal is located in the Bonneville Salt Flats (#3 in our 15 pictures of Utah post), a unique spot that itself is worth the detour for a view of white salt like you’ve likely never seen before.

Bonneville Salt Flats (photo credit: Jake Nackos)

 

Especially with the lovely mountains in the background. Utah’s West Desert looks stunning.

And the blue canal too…but going kayaking there isn’t quite recommended.

 

Why exploring the blue canal isn’t recommended

We’re all for exploring hidden, unusual, and off-the-beaten-path destinations (in fact, avoiding touristy destinations is vital to traveling more authentically). But it’s also important to be respectful of locals.

The problem is that the canals are not natural at all: they are designed for industrial purposes, as local company Intrepid Potash uses the canals (and nearby ponds) to extract minerals from the brines.

Canal corner (photo credit: Scott Taylor)

 

The federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) agency warns potential adventurers that the waters may “be unsafe for boating and swimming”. The BLM’s manager says the canals “are not appropriate for recreation due to the canals’ industrial design and other unknown hazards.”

The water isn’t toxic, but it just isn’t made for swimming. There could also be unstable/sinking ground near the canals and the surrounding steep berm areas.

And that’s not all. While the blue canals are partly on public lands, they also cross into private property, and many “no trespassing” signs are posted.

Not to mention that there are no access roads and those making their way to the canals have to park on the site of a major Interstate Highway, which also is illegal. And dangerous for those on that stretch of road, unfortunately. Especially since many are apparently crossing the highway on foot to reach the canals.

The Utah Highway Patrol has been monitoring the area and giving out citations because of the surge in visitors in the last few days.

Even though going into the blue canal could very well not hurt anybody, getting a substantial fine and losing money (that could be used to fund another trip) is definitely bad for those who love to travel.

Canal from above (photo credit: Scott Taylor)

 

Many are talking about the pandemic being an opportunity to reassess who to travel more responsibly (more on that soon, sign up for our free newsletter to get all our content), this somewhat fits with that.

Videos like these are great to watch, since it sure is beautiful. But then, the video leads many people to go there, even if it is not allowed.

So what do you think of ignoring rules to reach a beautiful spot? Of not following the locals’ recommendations? Do you think it’s worth it? Would you do it?

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Summary

The majestic blue canals in Utah’s West Desert sure look beautiful, but swimming or paddling there isn’t recommended by local authorities.

What do you think of following those types of rules? Tell us in the comments below.

 

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Featured image: blue canal video screen capture (photo credit: Scott Taylor)

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Andrew D'Amours

Andrew is the co-founder of Flytrippers. He is passionate about traveling the world but also, as a former management consultant, about the travel industry itself. He shares his experiences to help you save money on travel. As a very cost-conscious traveler, he loves finding deals and getting free travel thanks to travel rewards points... to help him visit every country in the world (current count: 61/193 Countries, 46/50 US States & 9/10 Canadian Provinces).

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