Summer Solstice on the Salt Flats

I really want to see the sun tunnels. Have you heard of them? They are an art piece made out of four huge concrete tunnels out in the Utah desert near the Nevada state line and on the solstices, they align perfectly with the setting sun. I thought about going for the winter solstice, but the sun sets too early to make it in time after a full day of work. I decided to try it this summer. My mom, Izzy, Claire, and Liam crammed into my little car to head out there with me. But there was a snag — the sun tunnels are really far away. I knew they were far, but it wasn’t until we started driving and driving and driving (and stopping for dinner) and driving some more that I realized how far away they are. Especially when you’ve got three people scrunched in the back seat and one 9-year-old who kept asking if we were there yet. (She later claimed to be doing it ironically, but I could tell she was really sick of driving.)

By the time we reached the exit for the Bonneville Salt Flats, there was still 45 miles over unpaved road to go. The sun was already pretty low in the sky, so I didn’t think we’d make it. We decided to amend our adventure to include just the salt flats. But that was totally fine with me because I actually had never been to the salt flats and always wanted to go. So what are the salt flats? You have probably seen them in such movies as …

Pirates of the Caribbean (that third one that was really long and boring). Or how about …

The Tree of Life (which I always meant to see, but never got around to)? They are 30,000 acres of densely-packed salt that you can walk on or even drive on. I always wanted to visit them but they seemed so far out of the way (unless you’re on your way to Wendover). Thus, it was a perfect compromise. I worried that they wouldn’t live up to my imagination (especially with a couple of restless kids in the car), but they were everything I hoped for. Vast expanses of white crystal.

We drove out on to the flats (but I didn’t risk doing any fancy maneuvers) and got out to look around. The sun cast long shadows.

Liam loved it. It really is a surreal experience to walk on salt. It crunches. And yes, it does taste like salt.

Luckily Claire liked it too and decided it was worth the incredibly long drive.

We stayed to enjoy the sunset and the pink sky. Claire practiced her model poses.

And then, since we were so close, we decided to stop by Wendover for some ice cream and to pay our respects to the neon cowboy before heading home.

As for the sun tunnels… there’s always next year.


  1. Kylie · June 28, 2012

    Beautiful! You went at the perfect time in the evening. The colors are amazing!

    • katie · June 29, 2012

      Thanks Kylie! Yeah, it was the perfect time of night to go, although I think it would be fun to return when it was much brighter out. Maybe in the winter, though, so it’s not too hot. 🙂

  2. Kristy Campbell Jackson · July 6, 2012

    Oh fun! Great photos! I’ve always wanted to go too. I must get around to it on my next visit!

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