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Old 09-04-2012, 01:51 PM
 
Location: Salt Lake City
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Even though City-Data probably originated as a place where people thinking about relocating could go to ask their questions about the various cities, we do get a lot of questions on the Salt Lake City forum from people whose travel plans include either a stopover in Salt Lake City or a visit to the City as a destination in and of itself. Instead of our repeatedly posting the same suggestions over and over again, or trying to remember which older threads to direct people to, I thought it might be nice to have a thread dealing specifically with Salt Lake City tourism.

I've written up quite a bit of information, but have only made it through the sights on Temple Square so far. It's definitely not my intention that this be "Katzpur's thread," so all contributions are welcome. I plan to submit my own entries in three color-coded fonts: Blue = Temple Square Sights; Green = Other sights in Salt Lake City; Pink = Sights a short drive from Salt Lake City. If other people want to follow suit, great. It would probably help people reading the posts to be able to know what to look for. If those posting don't wish to bother with the color coding, that's okay, too.

Since this thread will not be a sticky, we may have to bump it from time to time.
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Old 09-04-2012, 01:52 PM
 
Location: Salt Lake City
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TEMPLE SQUARE – INTRODUCTION:

Temple Square is the most visited tourist attraction in Utah, drawing anywhere from 3 to 5 million visitors a year. Situated in downtown Salt Lake City, what began as a 10-acre “square” now comprises some 35-acres in the center of town – at least in one sense: The southeast corner of the Square is the point at which Salt Lake City’s unique address numbering system originates. Every address in the city is made up of a set of coordinates specifying its distance from Temple Square.

Temple Square is open to the public from 9:00 A.M. to 9:00 P.M., 365 days a year. All buildings on the Square except one (the Temple itself) are open to the public. There are a couple of ways by which visitors can experience Temple Square. I would suggest a combination of these two: by tour and on your own. Forty-minute tours are offered throughout the Square’s operating hours and generally leave about every ten minutes. To join a tour, simply stop in at either the North or South Visitors’ Center on the Square.

About the tours: I personally like guided tours and have found that I always learn something on a tour that I wouldn’t have known just by going on my own. Tours of Temple Square are no exception. For instance, you are welcome to enter the world famous Mormon Tabernacle on your own and see everything in it that you’d see on a tour. But, when you go on a tour, you will hear a demonstration of the building’s acoustics that will absolutely blow your mind. More on that later. Each tour is conducted by two young women, generally between the ages of 21 and 23. You can spot these young women as they are walking throughout the Square because each of them will be wearing a name tag attached to a tag showing the flag of the country she is from. All of these young women speak English, but many also speak a foreign language. As of September, 2012, there are over 40 languages spoken by at least one of these “sister missionaries,” as they are called, and you may hear anything from Spanish or German to Teochew and Urdu. Tours given in any of these languages are available upon request. These young women are “proselyting missionaries.” They are serving on Temple Square for the same reason Mormon missionaries are serving in countries throughout the world – to present an overview of the LDS Church in such a way that people will be interested in learning more. While you may run into an exception now and again, for the most part you will find that their presentation is very “soft sell,” and that they are genuinely charming young women who can make your visit to Temple Square more enjoyable than it would otherwise be. If, however, the idea of spending forty minutes or so with two Mormon missionaries is simply something that you are not interested in doing, you can still enjoy Temple Square. If approached and asked if you would like a tour, “no, thank you” will do the trick.

With the exception of the Square’s restaurants and a shop in the Museum of Church History and Art (discussed in greater detail later), everything on Temple Square is free. No one will solicit contributions from you and you wouldn’t be able to bribe one of the missionaries to accept a tip if you tried. Keep in mind that the operating days and hours I've posted are those as of September, 2012. You may wish to confirm what I have written by stopping in at one of the two visitors' centers when you arrive, as things do change from time to time.

Temple Square is open year-round. If you happen to be here between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, be sure to visit the Square at night (maybe in addition to a daytime visit). The grounds are beautifully decorated for the holiday and over 700,000 lights cover the trees around the Square. There is also a nativity scene and Christmas music.

Last edited by Katzpur; 09-04-2012 at 02:13 PM..
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Old 09-04-2012, 01:58 PM
 
Location: Salt Lake City
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TEMPLE SQUARE – VISTORS’ CENTERS:

There are two visitors centers on Temple Square, one on the South Temple Street side of the Square and one on the North Temple Street side. As you walk through the gate from either of these streets, you will see one or the other of these visitors centers directly to your right.

The North Visitors’ Center is the larger of the two. It contains so many displays (many of them interactive) about Mormon history, culture and doctrine that you could spend hours there and still not see everything in much depth. These displays are on three different floors, so at least take the time to walk through all three to see what they have to offer. The highlight of the building – at least for most visitors – is the 11-foot tall marble “Christus” statue on the upper level. Two one-hour movies are also shown there: “Legacy,” which portrays the westward trek of the early Mormon pioneers from the Church’s beginnings in upstate New York to the Salt Lake Valley, and “The Testaments – Of One Fold and One Shepherd,” an introduction to the relationship between the New Testament and the Book of Mormon, told in the context of a fictional love story. Of the two, I would recommend “Legacy.” Check for show times in the Center.

The South Visitors’ Center is considerably smaller than the North, but especially interesting due to the relatively new 88-inch tall replica of the Salt Lake Temple, which has been constructed there. The south and east walls of the replica have been cut away to show an exact representation of the interior of the temple. There are other interactive displays throughout the building.
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Old 09-04-2012, 02:00 PM
 
Location: Salt Lake City
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TEMPLE SQUARE – ALSO ON THE “ORIGINAL 10-ACRE SQUARE”:

The Tabernacle and the Assembly Hall are the last two buildings located on the original 10-acre plot of ground known to Salt Lakers for many, many years as “Temple Square.”

The Tabernacle, an architectural masterpiece, was completed in 1867. Designed by a bridge-builder, the roof rests on the forty-four sandstone pillars which surround the building. While the marble-looking columns inside support the balcony, but the roof itself has no interior supports. Because the Pioneers had very limited access to metal nails, the beams of the roof were held together primarily with long wooden pegs. Whenever a beam would start to split, it would be tightly wrapped with strips of wet rawhide. When the rawhide dried it would, of course, shrink, thereby repairing the damaged beam. As remarkable as this project was, what to me is equally amazing is that even today, the original wooden pegs and rawhide-wrapped beams remain in place. Except where it has been absolutely necessary for safety reasons, they have not been replaced. If you have chosen to take a guided tour, you will be asked to sit at the back of the building, which is 170 feet, from one end to the other. Someone at the other end will drop a straight pin onto the wooden floor. When it hits the floor you will hear it clearly. This is followed by several other brief demonstrations which all illustrate the extraordinary acoustical qualities of the building. The organ itself is an incredible instrument. Known the world over, it contains over 11,000 pipes and dominates the front of the building.

Free half-hour organs recital are held in the Tabernacle every day at noon. Throughout the “off-season,” (basically between Labor Day and Memorial Day), there is also a 2:00 P.M. organ recital in the Tabernacle, as well as a Tabernacle Choir rehearsal on Thursday evenings between 7:30 and 9:00 P.M. If you wish to attend a Choir rehearsal, you may walk in and out at any time during the performance; you do not need to be there throughout the entire hour and a half rehearsal.

The Sunday morning Tabernacle Choir Broadcasts (“Music and the Spoken Word”) are also open to the public. If you wish to attend a Tabernacle Choir broadcast, you may enter the building any time between 8:30 and 9:15 A.M. on Sunday morning. Because you will be listening to a live broadcast, the doors are closed at 9:15 and you will not be permitted to leave between that time and when the concert ends at 10:00 A.M. The 30-minute broadcast is the world’s longest-running continuous network broadcast. During the 30-minute program, you may expect to hear perhaps a half dozen or so musical numbers, ranging from hymns to classical numbers, to Broadway show tunes to patriotic music. There will also be one organ solo and a short non-denominational sermonette. Dress is extremely varied. You will see a number of people dressed in “Sunday best”; these are likely LDS locals. You will also see hundreds of tourists, carrying city maps and cameras. Any kind of dress is okay as long as it is reasonably modest. When you walk into the building, the Choir will probably be running through one last rehearsal, so if a half-hour concert isn’t enough to satisfy you, get there early enough to catch the rehearsal.

After the broadcast, you might want to take notice of the “sister missionaries” who gather together by the flag pole just outside of the Tabernacle. Each one will be holding a small sign stating which language she speaks. Each of them, in turn, will take a portable microphone, welcome guests to Temple Square in her native language, and offer to take them on a tour of the grounds. It’s always kind of fun to hear, “Hello! Welcome to Temple Square!” in several dozen languages, one right after the other.

The Assembly Hall is a small, charming old meetinghouse on the southwest corner of the Square. It was built in 1882 of left-over granite, quarried for the Salt Lake Temple but not used in its construction. Free concerts of various kinds are held there most Friday and Saturday nights throughout the year.
In addition to the Tabernacle and the Assembly Hall, you will find quite a lot of religious sculpture on the grounds, with plaques explaining their significance. The landscaping is absolutely beautiful, the flower beds immaculately maintained and the overall environment very peaceful and relaxing. (One exception to the “relaxing environment,” however, is the first weekend of either April or October, as these are “Conference Weekends” and the Square is absolutely packed.)
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Old 09-04-2012, 02:02 PM
 
Location: Salt Lake City
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TEMPLE SQUARE – THE JOSEPH SMITH MEMORIAL BUILDING AND THE CHURCH OFFICE BUILDING:

The block immediately to the east of the “original Square” contains several buildings that most people find worth visiting. First there is the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. Built in 1911, this was originally the Hotel Utah, Salt Lake City’s most elegant and luxurious hotel. During the 1980s, the LDS Church, which owned and operated the hotel, decided to close and renovate it – not as a hotel, though. Re-opened in the mid-1990s, it now has several new functions. If all you have time to do is take a quick walk through the lobby, do so. It’s simply gorgeous. You may wish to take a tour of the rest of the building. Just look for a man or woman wearing a “host” or “hostess” badge and express your interest in seeing beyond the lobby. (These hosts and hostesses are “Church Service Missionaries.” They are not permitted to proselytize and, for the most part, they have no desire to.)

If you get tired of walking and want to sit down for a while, consider attending a showing of whatever is currently playing at the 500-seat Legacy Theater in the building. This is a beautiful theater which shows movies produced by the Church for the purpose of introducing visitors to its history and culture. As of September, 2012, the movie being shown is the 68-minute “Joseph Smith: The Prophet of the Restoration.” It’s a very well-done production and is shown on an enormous screen (not IMAX, but similar).

Also in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building is “Family Search.” This is a computer center where trained personnel help you “get your feet wet” in the waters of genealogy. All you need is the name, approximate birth date and approximate place of birth of a direct ancestor, such as a grandfather or great-grandfather. Within a half an hour, you’ll have a printed copy of your family tree as far back as that line has been researched and identified by genealogists.

There are three restaurants in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. One of them, the Nauvoo Café, is on the main level of the building, just off the lobby. My personal opinion is that it’s not all that great. Others may disagree. At any rate, it’s pretty much soup, salads and sandwiches. The other two restaurants are on the tenth (and top) floor of the building. Both overlook Temple Square. The first, known as The Garden Restaurant, is a nice place for either lunch or dinner. The second, called The Roof Restaurant, is open only for dinner. It’s an upper-scale buffet (prime rib, etc.). If you are used to having a glass of wine or a cocktail with your dinner, however, consider skipping the restaurants in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. You can’t even buy a cup of coffee or tea there. Just sodas and water. If you don’t see that as a major issue, The Roof is a nice place for a more elegant dinner.

To the northeast of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building is the Church Office Building, a 28-story white high-rise constructed in the early 1970s. This is the headquarters building for the LDS Church and contains offices for several thousand individuals in a wide variety of departments. The only part of the Church Office Building you can visit (aside from the lobby, which contains a beautiful mural of Christ commissioning His Apostles to go into all the world and teach His gospel), is the 26th floor observation deck. Talk about a breathtaking view of Salt Lake City! From the open-air deck you can overlook the east, north and west sides of the City and get some amazing photographs. After 9/11, the Church Office Building became a secure building. Consequently, you will not be able to go up to the 26th floor on your own. As is the case in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, either a host or hostess must accompany you. Take advantage of their knowledge of the Salt Lake valley and its history. They can provide you with some fascinating information on the history of the City and its natural surroundings. Besides, it’s nicer to actually be told what it is you’re looking at instead of just having to guess. Again, these hosts and hostesses are Church Service Missionaries. They are not permitted to proselytize, but can answer most of the questions you might have about the LDS Church (except for the really deep doctrinal stuff; they’ll refer you back to the “Sister Missionaries” on Temple Square for those). The Church Office Building is only open on weekdays, on which days it opens at 9:00 A.M. Between April General Conference and October General Conference (in other words, during the summer months), you must arrive at the building by 4:45 in order to go to the 26th floor. Between October and April Conferences (i.e. the winter months), tours end a half hour earlier, so you must arrive no later than 4:15. Tours are tailored to fit your own time constraints and interest, but are generally about 20 to 30 minutes in length.
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Old 09-04-2012, 02:04 PM
 
Location: Salt Lake City
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TEMPLE SQUARE – THE LION HOUSE, THE BEEHIVE HOUSE AND BRIGHAM YOUNG HISTORIC PARK:

The Lion House and the Beehive House were both homes belonging to Brigham Young, who led the Mormon pioneers across the Great Plains to settle in the Salt Lake Valley. They are located next to each other on South Temple Street.

Tours are given by sister missionaries at the Beehive House. Visitors are taken through the meticulously furnished rooms of the old home and given a glimpse into the life in an early LDS polygamous household. Try some of the horehound candy when it’s offered, but if you’ve never tasted it before, be prepared to want to immediately spit it out!

The Lion House is not open to tours, as it is used primarily as a reception center and for private luncheons. It is, however, home to what I personally feel is the best of the four restaurants on Temple Square – the Lion House Pantry. You enter the Pantry on the lower level of the west side of the building. Don’t be put off by the fact that the food there is served cafeteria style. It’s not your run-of-the-mill cafeteria food, but more closely resembles Sunday dinner at grandma’s house. You’ll generally find a selection of three or four entrees – things like fried chicken, pot roast, meat loaf and fresh trout. Lion House rolls are legendary in Salt Lake City and their homemade pies are to die for. Both lunch and dinner are served, with pretty much the same menu for both meals. Keep in mind that neither coffee nor tea are served at the Lion House Pantry. After paying for your meal, you may seat yourself in one of the many pioneer-themed rooms or, if the weather is nice, go out into Brigham Young’s backyard and eat on his patio under the shade of hundred-year-old trees.

Across State Street to the northeast of the Beehive House, and directly east of the Church Office Building, you will find Brigham Young Historic Park, a small, peaceful green area created in memory of the LDS Church leader. Walk through the park and enjoy the numerous status of the pioneers shown participating in all sorts of agricultural activities. You’ll see an old water wheel turning slowly as City Creek, the pioneers’ primary source of water flows beneath it and down through the irrigation ditches through which City Creek runs prior to heading underground towards the Great Salt Lake, where it ultimately empties. Throughout the summer months, every Tuesday and Friday evening a concert is held. The music varies considerably from week to week, with both local and internationally known artists being featured.
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Old 09-04-2012, 02:07 PM
 
Location: Salt Lake City
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TEMPLE SQUARE – THE CONFERENCE CENTER:

The Conference Center, located directly across North Temple Street from the “original” Square, is an architectural masterpiece which is absolutely not to be missed. Constructed between 1997 and 2000, the Conference Center is the largest structure of its kind in the world. You may not wander through the building on your own, but must take a guided tour. These tours vary in length, but are typically about 45 minutes long. Shorter tours can be arranged, but don’t try to see the building in much less time than that. It covers 1.4 million square feet, and at least a half hour is required to just see the highlights. The building was built primarily to serve as a place where the growing Church membership could meet twice a year for General Conference, and contains a 21,000-seat auditorium (7,000 seats on each of three levels). Hidden from view is the 620-ton steel king truss manufactured in Belgium, which provides the roof of the building with 18 million pounds of support. The front of the auditorium is dominated by the second largest organ in this city of organs, a beautiful and amazingly powerful 7,600 pipe instrument. After you see the auditorium and some of the original artwork displayed throughout the building, you will be taken to the roof where you will walk through evergreens, aspens and a wildflower meadow. The building is open from 9:00 A.M. until 9:00 P.M. almost every day of the year. The roof, however, is closed to tours after sunset and during inclement weather or when the granite walkways are icy.

During the summer months, the Tabernacle Choir rehearses in the Conference Center and its weekly Sunday Broadcast ("Music and the Spoken Word") is broadcast from the Conference Center. The 2:00 P.M. organ recital is also held in the Conference Center, as opposed to the in the Tabernacle.
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Old 09-04-2012, 02:09 PM
 
Location: Salt Lake City
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TEMPLE SQUARE – THE MUSEUM OF CHURCH HISTORY AND ART AND THE FAMILY HISTORY LIBRARY:

Just across West Temple Street, and directly west of the “original” Square, is the Museum of Church History and Art. This is an excellent, well-designed museum. Members of the LDS Church may find more of interest there than will non-members, but I would highly recommend even a brief (i.e. minimum one hour) visit for pretty much anyone. Part of the building contains expertly and creatively displayed pioneer artifacts, and part contains art created by LDS artists over the past 150 or so years. If you are looking for LDS-themed souvenirs, “this is the place.” The Museum contains the only shop of its kind on the Square. Hours are 9:00 A.M. to 9:00 P.M. daily.

Next door to the Museum is the world-renowned Family History Library, the largest collection of genealogical information anywhere on earth. All of the resources you will find there to enable you to trace your own family’s genealogy is at your disposal between the hours of 9:00 A.M. and 9:00 P.M., every day except Sunday. Volunteers are prepared to help you get started and whenever you need their help along the way. If you are not a serious genealogy buff, the library will be overwhelming, and possibly not particularly interesting to you. On the other hand, if genealogy is your thing, you may never want to leave once you’ve entered the front door.

Last edited by Katzpur; 09-04-2012 at 02:22 PM..
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Old 09-04-2012, 02:53 PM
 
Location: Salt Lake City
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OTHER SIGHTS IN SALT LAKE CITY:

Having visited Temple Square, you may assume that your sightseeing opportunities in Salt Lake City are pretty well concluded. You couldn’t be more wrong. For purposes of this thread, I’ve grouped the remaining tourist attractions by general area.

THE CAPITOL HILL AREA:

The Utah State Capitol, the building on the mountainside north of downtown that looks much like a smaller version of the National Capitol in Washington, D.C., is a must-see! It was constructed in 1916, from granite from a quarry roughly 20 miles to the east of Salt Lake City. The Capitol was renovated between 2004 and 2008 in one of the most extensive preservation projects ever to be undertaken on an American historic building. The interior rotunda area is of breathtakingly beautiful Georgian marble. The walls of the dome are covered with murals depicting all of the parties that played a part in early Utah history – the American Indians (there are five tribes native to Utah), the early explorers (Franciscan priests first visited this area in 1776), the trappers and traders (Jim Bridger strongly cautioned Brigham Young against trying to make a go of it in this desolate valley) and of course the Mormon pioneers (who ultimately proved him wrong). Standing directly under the dome, look up at its ceiling 165 feet above you. It’s painted to look like white clouds against a blue sky, with tiny seagulls soaring about. (The tiny seagulls actually have a wing span of 6 feet!)

Tours are given of the State Capitol Building on weekdays from 9:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M., with extended hours on Wednesdays. Additionally, the building is open to the public all seven days of the week, so don’t think that you’ve missed it if you’re just in Salt Lake City for the weekend. If you enter the building on the lower, east-side level (rather than going up the flight of stairs on the south side of the building and in through the front doors, you can pick up a self-guided tour brochure and see much of the building on your own. There is also a really nice gift shop on the lower level.

Regardless of where you enter the building, take a few minutes to stand on the front steps of the Capitol to get a spectacular view of Salt Lake City.

Directly south, across the front lawn of the Capitol you will see the Utah Travel Council Building. This is one of the ten most historic buildings in the state of Utah. Originally built as “city hall,” it now houses the Utah Tourism offices. You may wish to stop by the Utah Travel Council if you plan to visit any of Utah’s State or National Parks or Monuments. Their information on Salt Lake City itself is somewhat limited. (You’ll want to stop by the Salt Lake Visitors and Convention Bureau in the downtown area for that.)

Just across the small parking lot to the east of the Travel Council Building is White Memorial Chapel, a reconstructed Mormon pioneer meetinghouse that is now a non-denominational chapel, used occasionally for weddings. The steeple, leaded glass windows, pulpit, interior woodwork and cornerstone are originals.

Within a block or so of the State Capitol Building is the Pioneer Memorial Museum. This museum is also often referred to as The Daughters of the Utah Pioneers Museum. It is neither owned nor operated by the LDS Church, but by the female descendants of the Utah Mormon pioneers, most but not all of whom are Mormons themselves. It has the world's largest collection of artifacts on any one subject -- in this instance, pioneer history. While, in my opinion, the museum actually attempts to display too many artifacts in a limited space, a lot of what is displayed there is really fascinating. One of its main attractions is the old covered wagon in which Brigham Young rode into the Salt Lake Valley in July of 1847. There are also displays of pioneer dolls, art (including hair art!), quilts, musical instruments, clothing, and clocks.

Last edited by Katzpur; 09-04-2012 at 03:30 PM..
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Old 09-04-2012, 06:36 PM
 
Location: Salt Lake City
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OTHER SIGHTS IN SALT LAKE CITY -- HIKING AND PICKNICING IN THE CAPITOL HILL AREA:

Just a few short blocks northeast of the State Capitol Building is Memory Grove, a park dedicated in 1920, containing monuments to those who lost their lives in World War I. Other memorials, to the victims of later wars, were added later on. There is a beautiful man-made lake in the middle of the park, which is a beautifully maintained serene spot in which to picnic or just wander around. At the far north end of Memory Grove, the formal, manicured park ends and City Creek Canyon begins. In the event that you brought Fido with you on your vacation, you’ll want to let him enjoy City Creek Canyon along with you, as a nature trail that leads for a short way (less than a mile) through the Canyon next to City Creek itself is an off-leash dog park. Expect to see lots of folks with their four-legged friends, as well as a number just enjoying the scenery on their own. Doggie poop bags (is there a more politically correct term for them than this?) can be found throughout Memory Grove and at the entrance to the nature trail. If you would prefer not to take the nature trail, you can walk as far as you'l like up City Creek Canyon on a paved road where automobile traffic is no longer permitted. Biking is, however, also permitted on this road, so walkers, joggers and bikers must share access.

For the view of Salt Lake City that inspired Brigham Young to lay out the city that now exists, you may wish to hike up to Ensign Peak. Just a few days after arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, Brigham Young and a few other men rode horses up to what was later named "Ensign Peak." There they planted a flag, which they said was to be "an ensign to the nations." It was from this point that Brigham Young first designated the spot on which the Salt Lake Temple would be built and described how the city would be laid out.

Immediately to the east of the State Capitol Building is a street by the name of East Capitol Boulevard, which runs roughly north and south. Drive north on East Capitol Boulevard until you reach the point where it intersects with a street on your left known as Ensign Vista Drive. Turn left and drive west on Ensign Vista Drive until you reach the Ensign Peak trailhead on your right. The hike is relatively short (about .8 miles roundtrip) but by the time you reach the top, you’ll have gained a lot of altitude. Depending on the weather, it could be strenuous, simply because of complete lack of shade, so you may want to carry a little water with you. It’s definitely not a treacherous hike, though, and you will be rewarded at the top with a view of Salt Lake City (looking south) that cannot be surpassed. (It’s similar to, but better than the one from the steps of the State Capitol Building that I previously described as “spectacular.” If you can do it just before sunset, the view will likely be even more beautiful than at midday. Just don’t stay up there past dark as you don’t want to be walking back down the mountain without being able to see where you’re going.

(Note: This section is entitled "Hiking and picnicing in the Capitol Hill area." If you're interested in picnicing, stick to Memory Grove. Ensign Peak has no facilities for picnicing, and no shade.)
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