Visiting Golden Spike National Historical Park

Relive a bit of history when visiting Golden Spike National Historical Park located in northern Utah.

Golden Spike is a fun place to visit in Utah to see the location of the Last Spike Site that connected the first transcontinental railroad across the United States!

Golden Spike National Historical Park

This United States National Historical Park in Promontory, Utah is famous for being the location of the ceremonial completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad.

The event occurred on May 10, 1869, when the Union Pacific Railroad and the Central Pacific Railroad were joined together.

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What Is The Significance of Golden Spike?

On May 10, 1869, a ceremonial 17.6-karat gold spike was driven into the ground at Promontory Summit, Utah, marking the completion of the first transcontinental railroad in the United States.

In the West, the railroad revolutionized travel, reducing time and costs and opening up new opportunities for commerce and settlement.

This project was symbolically completed with the Golden Spike ceremony, and a moment of national pride was marked.

Since then, the spike has become a symbol of American industrial and technological progress and a reminder of railroads’ vital role in shaping American culture.

Jupiter Locomotive Golden Spike National Historical Park
Jupiter Locomotive

Visiting Golden Spike National Historical Park

Golden Spike may be a small park, but you’ll find there’s a much larger story that continues to this day.

While visiting this historic Utah National Monument, you can learn about the tent city and town before it became a historic site.

Read about the history of the locomotives that met on the site, the four special spikes, and the ceremony that took place.

Here’s some basic information about visiting this location:

Entrance Fees: Golden Spike National Historical Park entrance fees are $10 per person or $35 for a family (up to four adults). Children 15 and under are free. The National Park Pass can be used at this location as well.

Operating Hours: The park is open every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. Its visitor center is open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm from Labor Day to Memorial Day. 

Location: Golden Spike National Historical Park is about 32 miles west of Brigham City, Utah, and 83 miles northwest of Salt Lake City, Utah.

The nearest gas station is in Corinne, 26 miles east via highway 83. Fill up in Brigham City, Tremonton, or Snowville, Utah depending on the direction you’re coming from.

Accessibility: The park is accessible to visitors with disabilities, with wheelchair ramps and accessible restrooms. Assistance animals are allowed in the park.

Goods and Services: There are no services at the park. The Visitor Center only has bottled water and snack food. We recommend your own food and drink!

Is Golden Spike worth visiting?

Golden Spike National Historical Park is a truly unique and fascinating destination, allowing visitors to step back in time and experience the history and legacy of the transcontinental railroad.

The park’s exhibits, artifacts, and historic structures provide a window into the challenges and triumphs of one of American history’s most significant engineering feats.

Whether you’re a history buff, an outdoor enthusiast, or simply looking for a unique and memorable experience, Golden Spike National Historical Park is a must-visit destination that offers something for everyone.

How Much Time is Needed for Golden Spike? 

There is no specific recommended amount of time to spend at Golden Spike National Historical Park, as it depends on the activities you want to do and the amount of time you want to spend in the park.

Locomotive 119 Golden Spike Utah
Locomotive 119

How to Get To Golden Spike National Historical Park

Do NOT rely on GPS directions. Once you turn off State Highway 83 it’s best to follow the road signs as you approach the site.

From Salt Lake City: Take I-15 North to exit 365 (Highway 83) and turn left. Follow Highway 83 West for 25 miles until you reach the park.

From Ogden: Take I-15 North to exit 365 (Highway 83) and turn right. Follow Highway 83 West for 25 miles until you reach the park.

From Brigham City: Take Highway 83 West for 32 miles until you reach the park.

From the West: Take I-80 to Wendover, then Highway 93 north to Highway 30 east. Follow Highway 30 East to the park.

Golden Spike reenactment
Golden Spike reenactment

Things to Do at Golden Spike

Several things to do and see at Golden Spike National Historical Park highlight the transcontinental railroad’s history and significance. Here are some suggestions:

Golden Spike Visitor Center

The park’s visitor center offers exhibits, artifacts, and information about the transcontinental railroad construction, as well as the history and culture of the area.

All ages can participate in the Junior Ranger Program! Grab the book from the Visitor Center front desk to earn the Golden Spike badge!

Summer Golden Spike Locomotive Ranger Programs

Early May through early October you can see the full-scale replicas of the Union Pacific No. 119 and Central Pacific Jupiter locomotives used during the Golden Spike ceremony in 1869.

The Locomotive Ranger Programs run daily as follows – except on Boiler Wash Days when the trains are not accessible to the public.

  • 10:00 am – Arrival of the Jupiter
  • 10:30 am – Arrival of the No. 119
  • 1:00 pm – Demonstration run with both locomotives
  • 3:50 pm – Departure of No. 199
  • 4:30 pm – Departure of Jupiter

Every Saturday from Memorial Day weekend to Labor weekend you can watch a costumed reenactment of the 1869 ceremony:

  • 10:45 am – Following the arrival of the No. 119
  • 1:00 pm – Following the demonstration run with both trains
Locomotive at Golden Spike National Historical Park Utah
Arrival of No. 119

Winter Golden Spike Engine House Tours

During the winter months from mid-October to the end of April, you can enjoy Engine House Tours. There are 3 scheduled tours that include a short introduction to the locomotives followed by Q&A.

Golden Spike Auto Tours

There are two ways to drive the transcontinental railroad grade to see what workers were building, and enjoy scenic views of the surrounding landscape.

East Auto Tour: 2 miles long to see cuts, fills, and culverts. In the winter this road may close during inclement weather.

West Auto Tour: 7 miles long to see the sign “10 Miles of Track, Laid in One Day” referring to the Central Pacific Railroad even on April 28, 1869. In the winter this road is regularly close.

The two Auto Tours are not approved for RVs or vehicles pulling a trailer.

Golden Spike Auto Tour
Golden Spike Auto Tour

Big Fill Loop Trail

Enjoy an easy 1.5 mile round-trip walking trail exploring the Big Fill Loop Trail. You’ll begin by walking on the original Central Pacific grade and return on the Union Pacific grade.

Along the trail you’ll see the Big Fill where loads of dirt were piled to create a way to cross the Spring Creek Ravine (one of the more impressive construction efforts in the history of American railroading).

There are a total of 14 points of interest along the trail. What will take you 1 to 1.5 hours to walk, took the railroad companies about three months to build for this small section of railroad!

Chinese Arch

The Chinese Arch was built by Chinese workers during railroad construction. It is located about a mile from the visitor center and can be accessed by car or on foot along the East Auto Tour.

Utah Travel Guides & Maps

Utah guides and maps

Things To Do Near Golden Spike

Utah Bucket List

To help make your trip planning easier, we’ve compiled this comprehensive list of must-do activities that belong on every Utah Bucket List: things to see, do and taste all around the state! Grab the free download by clicking the graphic below!

utah bucket list - grab the free packet

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