Western Utah is a region of Utah encompassing the counties of Box Elder and Tooele, as well as the western halves of the counties of Juab, Millard, and Beaver (west of longitude 113W).
- 1 Brigham City — a small Mormon city (by Utah standards) near Promontory Peak and home to the Brigham City Tabernacle
- 2 Grantsville — a large town near Deseret Peak and Miller Motorsports Park
- 3 Milford — a small town in western Beaver County, just east of the particularly atmospheric ghost town of Frisco
- 4 Tooele — a small copper mining city by the Tooele Army Depot (the training base of the Enola Gay crew); also home to about $5 million in the Prison Break universe
- 5 Wendover — on Utah's western border, this is the eastern half of Nevada's West Wendover, which is essentially the same city, but serves as a gambling retreat for Utahns
- 1 Deseret Peak Wilderness Area — high peaks, often snow-capped, surrounded by barren desert; popular with backpackers.
Western Utah is covered with gigantic expanses of flat desert, punctuated by sudden, forested mountains. Its larger towns are all located in the extreme east of the region, near the more populated regions of Wasatch Range and Central Utah. Much of the region is off limits to the curious and the adventurous, as it is home to the Dugway Proving Grounds, an enormous military area which has been the object of not a few conspiracy/UFO theories. Travelers who do make it out to the far western desert will be rewarded mostly with solitude, but also some extreme (and potentially dangerous) desert wilderness backpacking opportunities. Note that at only 60 miles from Salt Lake City you are likely to only encounter sage brush covered desert or trail heads leading into the mountains. A tamer outdoors experience can be had at the region's most popular attraction, the Deseret Wilderness Area.
Going through Utah north-south is Interstate 15, an important route across the United States that connects to routes that lead into western Utah. Also crossing western Utah east-west is U.S. Route 50 and Interstate 80, both of which are major highways but Interstate 80 being the far more used of the two.
The two "main" desert roads heading into the remote west are US-6 from Delta and US-29 from Milford. They mostly just serve to take you further into nowhere, but you will be rewarded with some impressive, if monotonous, desert vistas. US-6, if you follow it far enough, will eventually get you to Great Basin National Park in Nevada.
The vast empty desert landscape of Western Utah has proven to be a tempting canvas over the years for the artist who prefers nature over a museum.
The 1 Spiral Jetty, considered to be the central work of American sculptor Robert Smithson, is an earthwork sculpture constructed in 1970. Built entirely of mud, salt crystals, basalt rocks, earth, and water on the northeastern shore of the Great Salt Lake near Rozel Point, it forms a 1,500-foot-long (460 m), 15-foot-wide (4.6 m) counterclockwise coil jutting from the shore of the lake which is only visible when the level of the Great Salt Lake falls below an elevation of 4,197.8 feet (1,279.5 m). Construction of the Jetty occurred during a drought when the water level of the lake was unusually low; however, within a few years, the water level returned to normal and submerged the Jetty for the next three decades. It first resurfaced in 2004, and changing water levels have submerged and uncovered the Jetty several times in the years since. Originally black basalt rock against ruddy water, it is now largely white against pink due to salt encrustation and lower water levels.
The Jetty is extremely far from most human habitation. It is located 17 miles by dirt road, through active pastureland, from the Golden Spike National Historic Site, which is itself ~32 (paved) miles from the nearest town of Corrine, Utah. Ensure you will have gas enough for the ~100 mile roundtrip, and time enough to be back on paved roads before dark.
In poor weather conditions it can be extremely dangerous to attempt to visit the Spiral Jetty as even though there are signs directing you to the Jetty, it would be very easy to get lost if they are missed due to poor visibility. An accident with the cattle that are often found on the road would leave you not only stranded, but liable for the damages to the livestock.
The Spiral itself will most likely be partially or fully submerged when you arrive, although a climb up the nearby hills can provide a better vantage point from which the Jetty can be seen even if it is underwater.
Other art installations in the desert of Western Utah include the 2 Tree of Utah, an abstract structure vaguely resembling a tree that makes for a memorable roadside landmark about half way across the salt flats on Interstate 80, and the 3 Sun Tunnels, a series of concrete tunnels with sun holes on the top in the shape of constellations. The four tunnels are arranged in an X pattern: one pair is aligned perfectly with the sun at the summer solstice, and the other pair at the winter solstice.
Relive the days of the Pony ExpressEdit
While the Pony Express existed for only a short time, it left its mark on Utah. You can explore parts of the original route throughout western Utah. There is an historic marker commemorating the 4 Faust Pony Express station located along Utah State Route 36. If you drive east from this spot, you can take the Pony Express Road back toward the Wasatch Mountains. Drive 3/4 of a mile (1.1km) farther south and Pony Express Road heads west deep into the western desert. Both of these roads are compacted dirt but well maintained and graded so high-clearance vehicles are not required.
Drive approximately 24 3/4 miles (39.75km) along the west-heading Pony Express Road and you will come to 2 Simpson Springs campground which is maintained by the US Bureau of Land Management. Adjacent to the campground is the 5 Simpson Springs Pony Express station with not only an historic marker but the original stone construction station building intact.
Do not head far out into the desert without reserve water and gasoline. Expect to need a gallon of water per day per person in the event that an emergency situation develops. You should also carry sunscreen and a first aid kit in case you are unable to return immediately.
Cell phone service is spotty at best across the western desert, and in most areas non-existent. If you plan to travel in this area, be sure to have alternate communication methods available (satellite phone, CB radio, amateur radio, signalling mirrors or lighting, etc.).
Be sure to notify friends, family, or others about your intended itinerary, camping locations, travel timetable and when to expect contact from you.
- Central Nevada has similar countryside and is the location of the Great Basin National Park.
- All around western Utah is the Grand Circle of U.S. National Parks.