Most of Utah’s gems are well-known all over the world — our stunning National Parks and popular cultural attractions are visited by millions every year. But these six little gems are often overlooked and worthy of a visit.
1) Newspaper Rock State Historic Monument
It’s often overlooked by those hurrying to one of the National Parks, but it’s a mistake to miss this.
The 2,000-year-old petroglyphs at this site were carved by Fremont, Navajo, Anasazi and Pueblo people. The wall art is easy to see and photograph -- a fence keeps visitors from touching the petroglyphs, but it’s installed 10 to 15 feet from the rock face.
Find it along SR-211, 53 miles south of Moab.
2) Pando, Richfield
U.S. Forest Service/J Zapell
It’s called the “Quaking Giant” or “Trembling Giant,” and it’s thought to be the largest single organism in the world. Pando looks like thousands of aspen trees, but it’s really just one male organism.
Pando is a really old guy -- his estimated age is 80,000 years. Find Pando in the Fishlake National Forest, along Route 25, 1 mile southwest of Fish Lake.
3) Gilgal Gardens, Salt Lake City
Have you ever seen a sculpture of Joseph Smith? Of course you have, if you live in Utah. Likenesses of the founder of the Mormon church can surely be seen all over the state. BUT...have you ever seen the head of Joseph Smith on the body of a Sphinx?
Check out Gilgal Gardens, 12 sculptures and 70 engraved stones created by sculptor Thomas Child. Originally Child’s back yard, now it’s a city park. Tthe gardens are tucked away in a Salt Lake neighborhood, but are open to the public, free of charge. 749 E. 500 S.
4) Spiral jetty, Great Salt Lake
Depending on the water level of the Great Salt Lake, this hidden gem is sometimes actually hidden underwater. Created from 6,000 tons of black basalt rock, the jetty is 15 feet wide and 1,500 feet long. Sculptor Robert Smithson created it in 1970.
Located on the Rozel Point Peninsula. From the Golden Spike Visitor Center, take the gravel road 5 ½ miles west to a fork in the road; take the south fork left and continue to a second fork; take the southwest fork to your right and drive another 8 miles. From there, it’s best to walk the last half mile, unless you have a high clearance vehicle.
5) Sun Tunnels, Lucin
At first glance, you might think Nancy’s Holt’s art installation is just a bunch of ugly, concrete tubes. Fun to climb on and mildly interesting. But…
Their true beauty is seen during summer and winter solstices, when the sunrise and sunsets line up with the tunnels. Even throughout the rest of the year, this hidden gem is worth the drive.
Check out the vast landscape, then look again through one of the tunnels for a whole new perspective. Visit during different times of day for different effects.
6) Meadow Hot Springs
You’ll find the tiny town of Meadow about 4 miles south of Fillmore. Take the Meadow exit off I-15, then drive south through the town. Once you pass the last buildings, take the dirt road on your right and keep driving west until you see the parking area for the springs.
From the parking area, take the south path to find a warm, clear pool. Access two other hot springs from the west path. These three springs are located on private property, but the owners allow access. They’ve posted several signs outlining the rules. Behave accordingly to keep this hidden gem available to the public.
Have you visited any of these unique spots? Are there any others you would add to this list?