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Culture & History
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National Historic Trails

Four National Historic Trails pass through Utah, recognizing routes of travel that are of national historic significance. Utah's trails touch on past routes of exploration, migration and military action. Explore three of these trails with free NPS audio tour. Additional backcountry routes follow routes lost to time, such as the Transcontinental Railroad Backcountry Byway. When traveling in the backcountry, always travel prepared and stay on designated routes.

National Historic Trails in Utah

Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail
1,300 miles

Experience the final stretch of the route 70,000 Mormons traveled from 1846 to 1869 to escape religious persecution.  It's about 75 miles from the Wyoming border to Salt Lake City, but there are dozens of historical sites along the last leg of the famous route. Get a taste of the journey on a 4.5-mile hike in Little Emigration Canyon near East Canyon State Park (Read: A Family Bike Tour of Salt Lake’s East Canyon) from Mormon Flat to Big Mountain then learn more at This Is the Place Heritage Park and The Museum of Church History and Art in Salt Lake City. Learn more 

California National Historic Trail
5,600 miles

Follow in the footsteps of over 250,000 emigrants who traveled to the gold fields and rich farmlands of California during the 1840s and 1850s — the greatest mass migration in American history. Learn more

Old Spanish National Historic Trail
2,700 miles

Follow the routes of mule pack trains across the Southwest on the Old Spanish National Historic Trail. Explore areas where the routes passed near Moab and its neighboring national parks (Arches and Canyonlands), through the central part of Utah, the oasis of the Fishlake Cutoff and southwest Utah near Cedar City, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, St. George and Zion National Park. Visitor centers throughout the region may have NPS passport stamps for trail enthusiasts. Learn more

Pony Express National Historic Trail
2,000 miles

Young men once rode horses to carry mail from Missouri to California in the unprecedented time of only 10 days. The toughest and most dangerous stretch passed through Utah's West Desert. Today, it makes an unforgettable road trip. See: West Desert Ramble & The Pony Express itinerary

Discover More History

A Family Bike Tour of Salt Lake’s East Canyon

by Kristen Bonkoski

East Canyon has always been a path for travelers, from the Donner Party to Brigham Young to the Pony Express. In this modern-day tale of travel, a family of three takes on East Canyon by bicycle for a weekend camping trip. They discover historical markers, swimming spots, and lots of ice cream.

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Forgotten History and Wild Horses in the Heart of the West Desert

by Andrew Dash Gillman

An outpost in the west desert, Delta, Utah, offers easy access to the distinct outdoor adventure and western heritage of the Great Basin. The recently opened Topaz Museum recounts the troubling history of Japanese-American internment during World War II while the desert landscape blossoms with discover ranging from wild horses and rock hounding to solitary hikes.

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A View From the Past

by Andrew Dash Gillman

Follow a historian on a tour of the Transcontinental Railroad Backcountry Byway as he reconstructs forgotten history.

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This itinerary is a slow-paced, yet adventurous drive into one of the few wild frontiers left in the world. It brings together unique scenery, history and wildlife all along the fascinatingly desolate Pony Express National Historic Trail.
  • Camp Floyd State Park Museum
  • Fish Springs Wildlife Refuge
  • Pony Express National Historic Trail
  • Historic Wendover Airfield