Golden Spike Empire
Participate in railroad history, bird migration and iconic earth art in the quiet stretches of Northern Utah's rural Box Elder County. It starts with a visit to the Utah State Railroad Museum and finishes in a nature reserve for the land's first migrants.
Start and Finish: Salt Lake City International or Ogden-Hinckley Airport with easy access on I-15
Hours of Driving: 5–7 hours with Golden Spike auto tours. And add around two hours for the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge auto tour and a half-day to explore the remote Transcontinental Railroad Backcountry Byway.
Rolling into Ogden, Utah, on the FrontRunner Commuter Rail, author Tim Sullivan immediately sees the importance of trains to the city's history. With the driving of the last spike and the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad at Promontory Summit, Northern Utah established itself as the Crossroads of the West. While there are multiple cities and towns with lodging options in the area, consider a base camp in Brigham City to see it all.
On this four-day itinerary, you'll explore the region's profound railroad history in Ogden (Day 1) and at Golden Spike National Historic Site, less than one hour to the northwest. Time your trip for a Saturday stop in the summer at Golden Spike (Day 2) to witness the reenactment of the last spike ceremony and the opportunity to participate in the recreation of the "Champagne Photo." In fact, May 10, 2019, marks "Spike 150," the 150th anniversary of the completion of the railroad. Learn more at spike150.org. Save time (and carry provisions) for two auto tours, a hike to the Big Fill and a spur trip to the incredible Spiral Jetty earth art on the north shore of the Great Salt Lake. If you're well prepared and have the time, use part of today or tomorrow to set out on the Transcontinental Railroad Backcountry Byway.
To round out your trip, take your time exploring the small towns and communities in the Bear River Valley (Day 3), which can include touring the murals of Tremonton, a stop at Crystal Hot Springs and a spur adventure up the canyon to Mantua. And because Brigham City is the gateway to the world's greatest wild bird refuge (as seen on the grand welcome sign arching over the wide main street), a trip to Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge (Day 4) and the excellent auto tour is a must. Bring your binoculars, a picnic lunch and a sense of wonder for the ancient migrations that made this land a crossroads well before humans laid tracks.
10 Places to Honor Women's History on Your Trip to Utah
Notable places you can visit where women have shaped history
11 Family-Friendly Activities Near SLC
Find fun family activities in Salt Lake City with this guide from the Utah Office of Tourism. From roller coasters to ski slopes, SLC has it all. Plan your trip now!
A Confluence of Pioneer and Native American Heritage in Southwestern Utah
Home to the historical Iron Mission, Cedar City’s rich pioneer heritage is encapsulated at the Frontier Homestead State Park.
A Matter of Geological Consent
A billion years of geological history surrounds Salt Lake City, where a modern landscape reflects ancient constraints.
A View From the Past
Follow a historian on a tour of the Transcontinental Railroad Backcountry Byway as he reconstructs forgotten history.
Arrive by Train
Follow author Tim Sullivan and his eight-year-old daughter as they travel by train, bus and bike on a "pilgrimage" to Golden Spike National Historic Site.
Bear Lake for History Buffs: Top 5 Don't-Miss Sites
Bear Lake’s charms are pretty apparent for anyone interested in the outdoors, water sports, cute small towns or fresh-picked raspberries. But beyond a lovely azure freshwater lake surrounded by cool hiking trails and berry stands, the area has a few special historic sites that you might miss if you didn’t know better.
High Art & Hometown Americana
There’s no shortage of fun things to do in Logan, Utah. From theatre to arts and crafts to unique dining, we have your Logan guide. Check it out!
It’s a Dog’s Life: The Canine Crew of Tavaputs Ranch
Catching up with the working dogs of central Utah’s remote Tavaputs Ranch.
Legacy and Craft
Three of Glen Thompson’s custom leather horse saddles are fitting examples of craftsmanship and a Utah folk art tradition. See more at the Chase Home Museum.
Seeing the Dinosaurs of Utah Valley
Tons of dinosaur fossils have been found in Utah, and plenty of them are on display in museums in the Utah Valley area. Ranging from smaller collections to one of the world’s largest collections of complete dinosaur skeletons, there’s something for every dinosaur lover to enjoy!
Ski In, Never Leave
Manger of Alta Lodge and a citizen of Mountain Time, Marcus Dippo hitchhiked to Alta four decades ago and hasn’t left.
For hearty and adventurous visitors with a few days, Tavaputs Ranch provides a rare glimpse into a historic western American lifestyle.
Temple Square: The Geographical and Musical Heart of Salt Lake
Learn more about Temple Square: The Geographical and Musical Heart of Salt Lake City and home to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and their weekly performances.
The Art of Supporting Utah Artists
Here’s a look at six local artists whose work draws upon Utah’s diverse environments as inspiration.
The Legendary Joe McQueen: Utah's Original Jazz
Legendary saxophonist Joe McQueen is the musical godfather of Ogden's lively 25th Street. Hear his story and explore some of Ogden's (and Salt Lake City's) best nightlight and jazz clubs.
The Ultimate Guide to Dinosaur Discovery While on a Trip to Utah
Add a little dinosaur discovery to your Utah itinerary. Explore state-of-the-art museums and monuments for unforgettable prehistoric adventures.
The Unparalleled Paiute ATV Trail
If you’re looking for great ATV vacations, look no further than the Paiute ATV Trail in central Utah. Read all about it and plan your off-road adventure today!
Time Traveling at Ogden's George S. Eccles Dinosaur Park
Many have dreamed of exploring jungles and forests only to discover a land filled with dinosaurs of all shapes and sizes? The George S. Eccles Dinosaur Park is the place to bring that dream to life, with 100-plus exhibits and realistic, full-sized dinosaur replicas, capturing the imagination of young and old alike.
Touring the Dinosaur Diamond Prehistoric Highway
Discover dinosaurs in Utah. The Dinosaur Diamond Prehistoric Highway is one of the best places to see dinosaurs in Utah.
Touring the Sheep Creek and Spirit Lake Scenic Backways of Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area
Explore the Utah Sheep Creek backways within the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area. Experience awe-inspiring scenery, rock formations, and wildlife.
Tracing the Outlaw Trail
Cowboys and dinosaurs don’t always come to mind in tandem. At Dinosaur National Monument in northeastern Utah, however, they do share one thing: an incredible landscape as a backdrop. This landscape, as well as some wild history, make Dinosaur a must-visit part of the state.
Utah’s Women Make History
Walk in the footsteps of Utah’s earliest women’s suffrage leaders at sites throughout downtown Salt Lake City. Along the way, view public art installations commemorating voting rights and stop at trail-adjacent local women-owned businesses.
Vernal Equinox: A New Season in Vernal, Utah
Looking for things to do in Vernal, Utah? Read our guide to the town here for attractions, restaurants, breweries and more. Make plans to visit Vernal!
Video: The Golden Spike Unites a Nation
May 10, 2019, marked 'Spike 150,' the 150th anniversary of the First Transcontinental Railroad. Visit the Golden Spike site in Promontory for a bit of Utah history.