The Summer of 2017 travel blog

Utah landscape




Kennecott smokestack

Tree of Utah

Critter bridge


Emigrant Pass

Bonneville salt flats




A new phenomenon over I-80. Bridges that have no roads around them. Turns out they are for critters to cross the highway safely. With the close interaction of the Nevada Department of Wildlife, the wildlife overpass walkways are covered with earth and native vegetation to replicate the natural environment and encourage crossing by deer and other animals. Deer fencing is installed on both sides to help direct animals to cross at the overpass, avoiding potential traffic collisions. We also passed the Kennecott smokestack, the Bonneville Salt Flats and the Tree of Utah.

The Kennecott smokestack is one of the loftiest, free-standing structures in the world and the tallest thing west of the Mississippi. Rising sharply about a dozen miles west of Salt Lake City and just south of I-80, this icon, which turns 35 this fall, is by far the tallest man-made structure in Utah at 1,215 feet.

The Bonneville Salt Flats is one of the most unique natural features in Utah, stretching over 30,000 acres. The famous Bonneville Speedway is located in the western portion of the flats, near Wendover. It is perfectly flat and has a thick crust of salty soil. It looks like a frozen lake bed covered with snow. No vegetation grows in that area. In other places, low mountains and hills break up the flat landscape. Sparse vegetation grows on hillsides and is pushing into the flat areas. On hot days, heat waves rise from the salty soil and create mirages that look amazingly real. If you believe your eyes, the dry desert looks like it is covered by water.

The Tree of Utah, is made of concrete and stands 87 feet tall. Its massive trunk rises to a series of branches, adorned with large spheres painted to resemble multi-colored tennis balls. Along the ground surrounding the tree are seventeen fallen tennis ball halves, meant to represent leaves that have fallen from the tree. The Tree of Utah was created by a Swedish artist name Karl Momen, who was inspired by the vast emptiness of the Bonneville Salt Flats. He spent 6 years building the piece, and promptly moved back to Sweden when it was dedicated in 1986. The tree is affixed with the plaque that reads "A hymn to our universe whose glory and dimension is beyond all myth and imagination."

Camped at Battle Mountain, a spot on the road.

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