Yellow Creek beach

Visitors enjoyed a newly remodeled Yellow Creek beach area earlier this week.

It is going to be a very hot, very busy weekend at Yellow Creek State Park in Brush Valley and Cherryhill townships, with its rebuilt beach along portions of a 720-acre lake.

“It is a brand new beach, it was completely closed last year (for a renovation project),” park Manager James Tweardy said this week. “Our attendance has skyrocketed.”

The beach is open every day from 8 a.m. until sunset, though swimming is at your own risk (no lifeguards.) Swimming ends on Labor Day.

Even with COVID-19 restrictions that began in March, Tweardy said, “it was pretty close to a standard opening” for the beach.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, all state park beaches are open, though beaches and associated parking areas are limited to 75 percent of normal capacity in green-phase counties, including Indiana.

And, Tweardy reminded all, “there are still the governor’s social distancing guidelines in place.”

That includes the new tweak, announced Wednesday afternoon, that requires masks both inside, and outside under some circumstances.

In a park covering 2,981 acres, there probably are a lot of places where one can maintain such a distance.

However, Levine said, masks are required if an individual is “when interacting in-person with any member of the public, working in any space visited by members of the public (or) where food is prepared or packaged for sale or distribution to others (or) working in or walking through common areas, or any room or enclosed area where other people, except for members of the person’s own household or residence, are present when unable to physically distance.”

There are restrictions on some indoor programming, Tweardy said, but “outdoor programs and outdoor gatherings are consistent with the governor’s recommendations.”

There are some outdoor activities scheduled for the Fourth of July, though registration is required for both events: a search for crayfish, mayflies and other water life at 10 a.m., and a photo scavenger hunt at 2 p.m.

Attendance also has skyrocketed in a second year of operation for Yellow Creek Rental and Supply LLC, which rents boats that range up to those using 20-horsepower gas motors.

“A lot of lakes are electric motor only,” the park manager said.

“It is booming,” Yellow Creek Rental and Supply’s Desiree Beppler said. “It is really great. We get sold out for pontoon boats for the weekend.”

Desiree and her husband, Mason, are co-owners with Dan and Tiffany Wissinger.

The sell-outs are backing up, as is the list of those hoping for an opening.

“We have a cancellation list but it is growing by the minute,” Desiree Beppler said.

However, “we have kayaks, canoes and stand-up paddleboards,” she said.

Stand-up paddleboards can be used for a yoga class, as one can find out Saturday morning.

“We have them regularly,” Desiree Beppler said. “There are still slots available.”

Another sort of special also is on the menu, as a food truck will be available from Ribs N Bibs Barbecue in Johnstown from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, bringing such items as pulled pork or brisket nachos, ribs, hot dogs and chicken.

One can stay overnight at the park, though not in a tent or recreational vehicle.

“We do have six cottages and four yurts,” Tweardy said. “Both of those units are one family single room, with rentals around $40 a night. It is a real nice mix.”

What’s a yurt? In central Asia, a yurt is a portable, round tent covered with skins or felt and used as a dwelling by nomadic tribes. In central Indiana County, they’re guest lodging featuring a full-size refrigerator, a four-burner electric cooktop and a microwave oven. Tweardy said cottages only have microwave ovens.

Either way, he said, “outside there also is a fire ring and a picnic table (for each unit).”

Both the park and Yellow Creek Rental and Supply have Facebook pages for more information.

Contact the park at (724) 357-7913 or by email  at yellowcreeksp@pa.gov.