Visiting Golden Spike National Historic Park and the Spiral Jetty with Your Dog

If your dog is a master at puppy eyes, we know it’s hard to leave them behind. Thankfully there are a wide variety of outdoor and historical activities in Utah where you can still include your dog! Whether you’re traveling through Northern Utah or just looking for a dog friendly day trip, the north shore of the Great Salt Lake has a couple options that you may want to add to your bucket list. 

Golden Spike National Historic Park

The Golden Spike National Historic Park, located about 90 minutes north of Salt Lake City, welcomes leashed dogs at their outdoor exhibits. This historic park was established on April 2, 1957 to highlight the meeting of Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads to create the first transcontinental railroad in the United States. Each day beginning at 10:30am, two replica engines of the famous No. 119 and Jupiter wow visitors with a meeting near the original track site. 

Getting There

The drive to the Golden Spike National Historic Park takes about an hour and a half from the heart of Salt Lake City. Visitors should take I-15 north to exit 365 where you will follow signage all the way to the park. The route leads you through Corinne, a small town of less than 1000 people, and that will be your last opportunity for gas, snacks, and other needs before you head to the remote historic park. 

Things you should bring:

  • Full tank of gas
  • Leash no longer than 6ft
  • Waste bags
  • Water for you and your dog
  • Towel (it can get quite dusty)
  • Treats and snacks, if desired
  • Pet ear protection (optional)

Visiting Golden Spike With Your Dog

The Visitor’s Center at Golden Spike National Historic Park offers ample parking, outdoor restrooms, and easy access to the outdoor, dog friendly exhibits. Although the park technically spans over 2700 acres, the main attractions at the visitor’s center will satisfy most.

Inside the visitor’s center (dogs must remain outside), you will pay a $20 per vehicle fee or show your America the Beautiful National Parks Pass. A small gift shop, 20 minute historical film, and a few artifacts make up the majority of the indoor attractions. 

Once your fee has been paid, you and your dog can begin to visit the outdoor attractions. Immediately in front of the visitor’s center you will have the opportunity to view the original concrete obelisk monument built in 1916. From there you should head to the right side of the building where an open gate leads to the replica track where the Golden Spike National Historic Park trains will stage. 

Several informational signs and artifacts are scattered around the area for you to learn about the process it took for these two rails to meet in this remote location north of the Great Salt Lake. If visiting prior to 10:30am, park rangers will direct you and your dog to the seating area once the trains are set to arrive. 

The train arrival will likely be the most stressful portion for your dog if he or she is not used to loud noises. Consider ear protection, favorite treats, and comfort while the engines steam into place. With the opportunity to be only 15 ft from the track, the train whistle and bell can be quite loud and may cause some dogs to be uncomfortable. The back bleacher portion of the viewing area would be the most suitable area for you to watch with your pup.

Once the trains arrive and get settled, feel free to get up close and personal for a photo opp of your dog with these historic locomotives! If you’ve arrived later in the day, the trains will already be in place for plenty of pictures and interaction with the conductors. If you want to continue learning about the historic meeting of these two railroads, driving audio tours are available for you to explore more of the park in your personal vehicle. 

Ready to move on? Next stop is the Spiral Jetty!

The Spiral Jetty at the Great Salt Lake

After trekking to the far north of the lake, you should take the time to continue on to the Spiral Jetty. Completed in 1970, the Spiral Jetty is an artistic sculpture by Robert Smithson. The 1500 ft jetty was initially fully surrounded by, and occasionally submerged in, the Great Salt Lake. Nowadays you’ll find the sculpture sitting in the dried lake bed, making it easily accessible for both humans and dogs.

Getting There

Although only 15 miles from Golden Spike National Historic Park, you should expect the drive to take about thirty minutes. The road from the park to the jetty is a dirt road through open range ranchland and, thus, will need to be navigated slowly. Despite the occasionally rough road, any standard vehicle should be able to make this trip easily. Prepare to see plenty of livestock as you drive through this remote, but beautiful, area of Utah. It is highly recommended you follow road signage instead of relying on GPS maps. As with the Golden Spike National Historic Park, the nearest services will be behind you in Corinne so ensure you are prepared.

Things you should bring:

  • Plenty of gas
  • Leash no longer than 6ft
  • Waste bags
  • Paw balm
  • Water for both drinking and washing salt off your dog
  • Towels
  • Treats and snacks, if desired

Visiting the Spiral Jetty and Great Salt Lake With Your Dog

The dirt road to the Spiral Jetty will dead end at the art installation and offers a fair amount of space to park. Here you will get your best view of the jetty and will probably want to get any photos of you and your dog with this unique sculpture. 

To experience the art closer, follow the path down to the lake bed. Dogs do not need to be on leash, though you should always carry it with you. Note that from this point on, your dog will get salty. Salt and the rough salt crystals of the dry lake bed can be extremely tough on your dog’s paw pads. Protect your dog’s paws by proactively applying a paw balm- we recommend Musher’s Secret.

The wide open space around the Spiral Jetty makes it one of the best places to take your dog to see the Great Salt Lake. Algae and bacteria cause the north bay of the lake to have a pink or lavender hue, making it a popular photo destination. Although the shoreline changes often, you can expect to walk about 150 yards from the edge of the jetty to the edge of the lake.

As you approach the lake, consider leashing your dog to avoid them ingesting or going into the salt water. While entering the lake isn’t necessarily harmful for your dog, you will find that your entire dog, leash, car, and everything else in the vicinity will be covered in tiny salt crystals. Before getting back into your car, you should use water and a towel to wash your dogs feet, mouth, and eye area thoroughly. After returning from your trip, plan to bathe your dog immediately.

Love this dog friendly Utah road trip idea? Tag @dogfriendlyslc on Instagram and use #dogfriendlyslc so we can follow along with your northern Utah adventures!

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