New county park opens along Jordan River in West Valley CitySep 11, 2023 02:27PM ● By Darrell Kirby
Pioneer Crossing Park in West Valley City features the Jordan River’s first boat launch and fishing pier. (Darrell Kirby/City Journals)
West Valley City is home to Salt Lake County’s newest regional park.
County and city officials cut the ribbon in July to mark the opening of Pioneer Crossing Regional Park.
The 25-acre county-operated site is located along the west bank of what was a nondescript section of the Jordan River just southeast of West Valley City’s Utah Cultural Celebration Center at 1276 W. Cultural Center Drive. The park currently takes up a part of that acreage with plans to expand it in the future.
The park features the natural surroundings of the Jordan River, a playground, gathering spots, multiuse trails, and the river’s first boat launch and fishing pier.
“We are so excited and grateful for the ability to build a new park and to begin to bring more life to the Jordan River,” Salt Lake County Parks and Recreation Director Martin Jensen told the assembled crowd at the official opening of the site. “It not only provides access to the Jordan River itself but more importantly to our wonderful Jordan River Trail.” The popular trail runs along the river from its headwaters at Utah Lake and through central Salt Lake County to where it empties into the Great Salt Lake.
Jensen recalled walking along the river in the area of the new park several years ago with then-Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams and needing a police escort to do so. Homelessness and criminal activity have been a problem along parts of the river over the years. To help keep the area safe today, Pioneer Crossing Regional Park includes a small building that will be a base of operations for West Valley City police patrols in the area.
“This beautiful park will bring exploration and safe transportation to both pedestrians and bikers,” added Salt Lake County Deputy Mayor Erin Litvack.
West Valley City Mayor Karen Lang said the Jordan River has played a big role in the development of the city, both before and after its incorporation. “The Jordan River is really important to our community. Being able to now access it and use it (for recreation)...is just such a benefit for us,” noting she and her family plan to take advantage of canoeing on the river from the new launch point.
Soren Simonsen, executive director of the Jordan River Commission, said Pioneer Crossing Regional Park helps further the vision of what the river can be with the restoration of natural and wildlife habitat for public enjoyment. “This park is the perfect example of some of those natural river functions being restored and opening up opportunities for great recreation.
“The Jordan River is our oasis in this vast desert arid valley,” Simonsen said and encouraged people to come and make their own connections to the river.
Planning and construction of Pioneer Cross Regional Park came after voter approval of a Salt Lake County parks and recreation bond for $90 million in 2016 for new recreation facilities and maintenance of existing ones. Pioneer Crossing was built for $3 million. It was named such because it is where early pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley first crossed west of the Jordan River, also making it a historically significant site.λ