With a unique religious and geological history, Utah is an exciting place for history buffs. From historic Mormon villages, to fascinating ancient petroglyphs, the Beehive State’s historic sites illustrate its rich past. Unsure as to where you should start? Here are the top 14.
A step back in time to the early pioneer settlement of Utah, This is The Place Heritage Park is historical in nature (like a museum, it includes period buildings and artifacts) and in location. Just adjacent to the park is a monument dedicated to the site where the early Mormon leader Brigham Young declared that the Mormons would permanently settle.
Every Utahan knows about the Golden Spike, though most have failed to visit the Golden Spike National Historic Site. Located near Brigham City, this national historic site celebrates where a golden spike was driven in 1896 to celebrate the completion of the nation’s first transcontinental railroad.
Perhaps the most popular historic site in Utah, Temple Square encompasses a wide swath of interesting buildings but most notably, the historic Salt Lake City Temple. There, Mormon couples are married and other religious ordinances are performed.
Declared a National Historic Landmark in 1964, Alkali Ridge is a collection of scattered archaeological remains from the Pueblo people who lived in the area thousands of years ago. Similar to Mesa Verde, the area combines history, intrigue, and the outdoors into one obligatory destination.
A majestic, classically-designed building that overlooks the entirety of Salt Lake Valley, the Utah State Capitol Building is just as stunning on the inside as it is on the outside. Although guided tours are available, the main lobby of the building is also open to the public.
Built near the end of the 19th century, this historic home has housed Utah’s governor since the late 1970s. Tours of the home are available, though a drive-by is also duly sufficient.
Another National Historic Site, this monument honors the memory of the 11,000 Japanese Americans who were sent to the Topaz War Relocation Center in Delta, Utah during World War II.
Listed on the National Historic Register as a prime example of an agrarian Mormon village, Spring City is now an historic and hip gathering place for artists and farmers alike.
Built in the 1920s using local materials, the Bryce Canyon Lodge is a step back in time to the prime era of American National Parks and continues to draw tourists from across the globe.
Originally known as “Hotel Utah” when it was first built in 1909, in 1983, this historic building reopened as the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. Technically located in Temple Square, the Joseph Smith Memorial Building is not only stunning from an architectural standpoint, but also offers warmth and nourishment after a chilly evening on the town.
In a state originally dominated by Mormons, this cathedral dates to the 1870s and was built to house Salt Lake City’s Episcopal congregation that first organized themselves in 1858. The building’s main claim to fame comes in the form of Utah’s oldest pipe organ, which was built in Scotland and dates to 1854
Another specific entity on Temple Square, the Beehive House was one of early Mormon leader Brigham Young’s many Utah homes. Preserved largely in its pioneer state, the house offers a look into what it would have been like to live with Brigham Young while he served as president of the Mormon Church. The Lion House Pantry—the Beehive House’s in-house restaurant—is famous throughout Utah for its down-home cooking.
The Bonneville Salt Flats are historic by definition. Just west of Salt Lake City, these flats are the remnants of the ancient Lake Bonneville that—for thousands of years—covered a majority of northwestern Utah. Now, these otherworldly flats are famous for setting land speed records.
Although there are many petroglyphs in Utah, the petroglyphs in Capitol Reef National Park are particularly accessible. Attributed to the Fremont People, these ancient petroglyphs are just as awe-inspiring as you’d imagine.