Golden Spike National Historic Site
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Golden Spike National Historical Park

Have you ever heard of Golden Spike National Historical Park aka Promontory Point Utah?

I hadn’t either! It is part of the National Park Service.  On our way back from Yellowstone National Park, we saw a sign off to the side of the road that said Golden Spike National Historical Park, this was in Utah.

We’re the type of people that when we have a destination in mind, including home, we don’t usually make unplanned stops. This time it was still early enough in the day, we were in the area, and so we decided that we would jump off the highway and check it out!

Let’s explore all the fun things to see and do at the Golden Spike National Historical Park. 

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What is Golden Spike National Historical Park?

Golden Spike National Historical Park honors the completion of the transcontinental railroad. The last spike was driven into the track in 1869 connecting the east to the west coasts.  The spike was “Golden.”

Where is Promontory Point Utah – Golden Spike National Historical Park”

Map from Salt Lake City to Golden Spike National Historical Park

The Gold Spike National Historical Park is a little less than an hour and a half from Salt Lake City.  It is really far off the main highway! (About 28 miles off of the highway.) There are also no other touristy sites in the vicinity, so it will take some commitment to make this stop part of your trip. 

Fun Fact

In 1869, reporters and railroad officials stated that the railroad was completed at Promontory Point Utah.  This is false information that has continued throughout our history.  Promontory Point Utah is actually 35 miles south of the Golden Spike National Historical Park.  

When visiting the site, you will want to make sure you enter Golden Spike National Historical Park into your GPS and not Promontory Point Utah. We did not have any trouble getting a GPS signal.

Golden Spike National Historical Park – HistoryPromontory Point Railroad tracks

The transcontinental railroad is a huge part of Utah history.

History Lesson

Two of my kids had programs this year about the Golden Spike. They taught us through song about how the railroad connected the east coast to the west coast! Check out the song provided by the Utah 4th grade program song lyric script.

Basically, both workers from the east and west were working hard to finish the track to connect the United States. On May 10, 1869, in Promontory Point(according to the reporters) the final spike was put in place. As a celebration, a golden spike was used!

2019 was the 150th anniversary of this great event.  Reenactments are common every single day, but in honor of the 150-year celebration, a special reenactment was performed.

For your viewing pleasure, you can watch part of the celebration! This is provided by the special website that was created for this, called  Spike 150.



Plan Your Visit to Golden Spike National Historical Park 

Golden Spike National Historic Site

Should I Plan a Special Visit

Yes, planning a visit to Golden Spike National Historical Park is worth it, if you live in Utah. This is a great Utah state historical site to explore. If I was coming from out of state I would not necessarily go out of my way to see Promontory Point unless I had a train enthusiast with me, held a National Park Pass, and wanted to get to as many parks as possible, or if I had a trip planned and was near the area.

What to Expect

Golden Spike National Historic Site is located in the Great Desert Basin. It is far from civilization. If you take a look on Google Maps, you’ll see that the park is nowhere near neighborhoods or amenities. It’s 90 miles from Salt Lake City, 50 miles from Logan, and 50 miles from Ogden.

When we went, there were two sites pretty much across the street from each other. The main site housed the visitor’s center. The visitor’s center includes an area where you can watch films (these were dated), and a gift shop, and a museum that has items from the era as well as stories.

Outside the museum is a pathway leading to the point where the tracks were joined.  The second site, the engine house, holds train cars.

How Much Time Do I Need at the Golden Spike National Historical Park?

I do not think you would need more than an hour to see everything in the visitor center and reenactments.

Junior Ranger Program

Junior Ranger Program and Golden Spike Historic Site

We enjoyed the junior ranger program available at Golden Spike Historical Park. The program is for kids 6-12. They can participate in activities that will take about 30 minutes to complete. It mostly involves learning all about the history of the transcontinental railroad.

Locomotive Demonstrations

Replica trains Juniper and No. 119 come rolling on display at 10 AM and 10:30 AM. There is a demonstration at 1 pm. At 4 pm the Trains are taken back to the engine house.

Engine House

We visited the engine house and got to see the trains up close.  The trains are large and colorful!  You can go up into one of the trains. If you have a little one that loves machines, this will be a great stop for him or her.

Reenactments

There are reenactments of the Golden Spike ceremony held daily.  If you want to see the reenactments, arrive between 11 AM and 1 pm.  This is when the reenactments are performed.  We arrived just when the last reenactment of the day was wrapping up!  We missed out, and so if you plan a bit better, you’ll be able to see what we didn’t.

Auto Tour

Audio Tour of the Golden Spike National Historical Park

After the visitor center, you can jump in your car and take an auto tour. The west auto tour is seven miles long and is home to the “10 Miles of Track, Laid in one Day” sign where the Central Pacific Railroad built 10 miles and 56 feet of track on April 28th, 1869.

The east auto tour is two miles long and allows you to see cuts, fills, and culverts.

My Recommendation

I recommend you don’t do this with littles. If you have little ones, I would stick with the museum, the surrounding area, and the engine house. But if you have older children or adults who love history, the tour helps give context to how amazing it was to finish the transcontinental railroad. It was an amazing feat!

Are you Ready to Visit Promontory Point Utah or the Golden Spike National Historical Park? Promontory Point Golden Spike National Historical Park

I’m glad we went. I think it’s important to learn about the laborers, the engineering, and the other historic components of the railroad. This was a major event in our country’s history and was celebrated in cities across the country. We came away with a greater appreciation of the significance of Promontory Point Utah and the first transcontinental railroad.

Facebook Community

Do you have any questions?  Join my Facebook Travel Community!  This great community can help answer any questions you may have about your upcoming trips. Plus, I try to add any great deals or promotions that companies send me!

Visit Utah

If you are looking for fun things to do in Utah with Kids we have you covered.  There are great activities for all seasons.  You can spend your Spring Break in Utah, Fall Break in Utah, or even enjoy all the things to do in winter in Utah.  If you are up for a Utah National Park road trip, you can visit Zions National Park, Bryce Canyon National Parks, Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and Capitol Reef National Park. There are so many amazing hikes in Utah and great places to camp.

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56 Comments

    1. Utah has a really cool train ride in the mountains called Heber Creeper. They always have fun themed train rides.

  1. I will save this for our next trip. We did go from Yellowstone to Jackson Hole to Utah this would have been a perfect stop. We love everything about trains!

  2. Last time I went I felt like I was driving forever to get there! But it is a fun, historic site, and I would recommend it also!

  3. I’ve heard of this but genuinely had no idea it was in Utah! Next time I drive down I’ll need to stop and visit

  4. 50 files from the nearest town? That’s pretty remote! But I’d love to see the reenactments.

  5. This looks like my kind of stop! I love finding places like this that you weren’t planning on stopping at. What a great piece of history to explore!

  6. How great that you could visit while the golden spike program was still fresh in your kids’ memories! And I love that you decided to make a detour, even though it was out of the norm for your family! Sometimes those are the best memories made.

  7. I love history especially learning about those things that became obsolete or less important but played a huge part in the growth of our communities.

  8. I am not a train buff in any way but I would go out of my way to see this purely from the historical significance. And because I am that traveler who does stop to smell the roses. ?

    1. I think that National Park Service does such a great job keeping up and making everything beautiful, I took a chance!

  9. What a great find. We typically don’t stop anywhere on the way home either. I am always in the mindset to just get home. It just goes to show, sometimes we need to stop and enjoy what is around us.

  10. I am DYING to go to Utah! I had never heard of Golden Spike National Historical Park. I know a few kiddos who would love the Jr Ranger activities! Where else did you go in Utah?

  11. I love that you added the history lesson in there. What a fun trip that must have been. My boys used to love trains when they were little and my BIL works in the railroad system, so trains are a huge fascination for us.

  12. I’ve never heard of it but now I’d love to add it to our list of places to visit. Thanks for sharing!

  13. The historical information and facts were great! Definitely some place I think I would enjoy visiting. I love trains, so that is a bonus!

  14. It’s always great when history meets natural beauty. This park is a win-win for anyone who likes history, or trains, or the Rockies or any combo of the three

  15. Thank you for this post! Once again you posted about a place I did not know existed AND its within traveling distance for me! This place sounds like a must see for us. Thanks for sharing!

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