The University District

The University District, Salt Lake City, Utah (A)

The University District of Salt Lake City sits perched just below the Wasach mountains. A zoo, a number of museums, and the University of Utah itself - complete with Olympic Cauldron Park, commemorating the 2002 Winter Olympics - highlight this region of the east side of Salt Lake City.
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Sights Featured in This Article

Guide Name: The University District
Guide Location: USA » Salt Lake City
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Article (A))
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 4.0 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 7.2 Km or 4.5 Miles
Author: Jim Reynoldson
Author Bio: Jim Reynoldson is an avid traveler and writer who grew up in Oregon. He enjoys hiking, camping, and sightseeing throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond.
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Hogle Zoo
  • This is the Place Heritage Park
  • Utah Museum of Natural History
  • Red Butte Garden & Arboretum
  • Fort Douglas
  • Utah Museum of Fine Arts
  • Olympic Cauldron Park
Hogle Zoo

1) Hogle Zoo

Located at the mouth of Emigration Canyon and at the foothills of the Wasach Mountains, Hogle Zoo was opened in 1931. With an area of 42 acres, this is the largest zoo in Utah, and typically hosts about 1 million visitors per year. Exhibits include Asian Highlands, which houses five endangered Asian cat species in a reconstruction of a Himalayan village, and Elephant Encounter. A new exhibit, called Rocky Shores, is due to open in 2012 – and will feature polar bears, brown bears, sea lions and seals. The zoo stresses a focus on education and conservation – including offering up its facilities and expertise to clean birds impacted by a pipeline oil spill in Red Butte Creek in 2010.
Image Courtesy of Bobjgalindo.
This is the Place Heritage Park

2) This is the Place Heritage Park

Located across from Hogle Zoo at the mouth of Emigration Canyon, this heritage park commemorates several elements of the region’s history. The centerpiece is Deseret Village, which includes restored and replica buildings – including Brigham Young’s forest farmhouse - to recreate a Utah pioneer town from the mid-1800’s hosting a series of festivals, events and a petting zoo for kids. In addition, several monuments throughout the park memorialize the Mormon Battalion, the end of the Mormon journey, the Miracle of the Seagulls, and Pony Express, among others. A Native American village pays respect to the pre-Mormon history of the region, as well.
Image Courtesy of Cory Maylett.
Utah Museum of Natural History

3) Utah Museum of Natural History

The impressive new home of the Utah Museum of Natural History, called the Rio Tinto Center, is being built next to the Red Butte Garden and Arboretum, and is due to be open by late 2011. Originally established in 1959 at the University of Utah, the museum currently contains over 1.2 million objects – including massive archaeological, animal, plant, and mineral collections. The highlight – especially for kids – is likely to be the four giant cast skeletons of dinosaurs from central Utah’s Jurassic period. An array of lectures, movies, and scientifically themed summer camps are also available for kids and adults alike.
Image Courtesy of Daderot.
Red Butte Garden & Arboretum

4) Red Butte Garden & Arboretum

Run by the University of Utah, Red Butte Garden and Arboretum occupies over 100 acres of natural gardens, ponds and hiking trails. Facility highlights include the Children’s Garden, Herb Garden, Fragrance Garden, Medicinal Gardens, and Rose Gardens. The garden can be rented as a gorgeous setting for private weddings, parties and other celebrations. A number of public festivals are hosted at Red Butte, as well – including educational opportunities from gardening workshops and classes. An onsite Amphitheater hosts a fantastic summer concert series – which have attracted such well known acts as Sheryl Crow, The Moody Blues, The Steve Miller Band, Willie Nelson, and Bonnie Raitt.
Image Courtesy of Cory Maylett.
Fort Douglas

5) Fort Douglas

Fort Douglas was established in the east part of Salt Lake City by the federal government in 1862, as a garrison to protect the telegraph lines and mail routes along the Central Overland Route. Named by President Lincoln after Stephan A. Douglas, the fort brought an increased military presence during a time when military personnel from the west were being redeployed eastward to fight the Civil War. Through the years, the fort has also been used as an internment camp for German-Americans and German prisoners of war during WWI, and home to the 7th Bombardment Group during WWII. Officially closed and most of it handed over to the University of Utah, today part of Fort Douglas does house a fascinating historical museum and is used by the Army Reserve.
Utah Museum of Fine Arts

6) Utah Museum of Fine Arts

Located on the campus of the University of Utah, this facility functions as both a state and university art museum. While the museum unofficially began with a small collection of art and artifacts on the top floor of the Park Building in the early 1900’s, its current incarnation began in 1951 – twice relocating the following years. The museum currently contains 74,000 square feet of space and houses over 17,000 works of art. Exhibitions past, present, and future include “Africa: Arts of a Continent”, “The Smithsonian Effect”, “Splendid Heritage: Perspectives on American Indian Art”, “LaConte Stewart: Depression Era Art”, and “Andy Warhol’s Dream America”.
Olympic Cauldron Park

7) Olympic Cauldron Park

Located in front of Rice-Eccles Stadium on the campus of the University of Utah, this showcase commemorates the 2002 Winter Olympics hosted in Salt Lake City. The stadium itself was the site of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, and the park features a number of innovate structures and works of art – including the cauldron and support made to resemble an icicle, standing at 72 feet high and made from 738 pieces of glass. The visitor’s center features an art gallery and multimedia displays highlighting powerful moments from the 2002 Winter Games. This site was at the center of action, as the University was also the site of the Olympic Village.

To end this tour, simply catch but #202, right by the park, westbound to downtown.
Image Courtesy of Scott Catron.

Walking Tours in Salt Lake City, Utah

Create Your Own Walk in Salt Lake City

Create Your Own Walk in Salt Lake City

Creating your own self-guided walk in Salt Lake City is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Historical Buildings Tour

Historical Buildings Tour

Salt Lake City’s downtown is a good place to view historical buildings and sites, each with its unique story and significance, that reflect the city’s Mormon heritage and more.

One such edifice is the Devereaux Mansion, a stunning example of Second Empire architecture that stands as a testament to the city's prosperous past. The Salt Lake Temple, an iconic symbol of the city and a...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.0 Km or 2.5 Miles
Pioneers Trail

Pioneers Trail

After extensive religious persecution in the Eastern and Midwestern United States, the Mormon Pioneers made their way westward across the plains and mountains to a spot where Brigham Young said God had designated they should stop and settle. Unlike other social groups (farmers, miners, merchants) who created other western cities, these settlers arrived in Salt Lake Valley as a centrally organized...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.9 Km or 1.2 Miles
Salt Lake City Downtown Walk

Salt Lake City Downtown Walk

Salt Lake City's downtown epitomizes the city's settlement and growth. Renowned for its cleanliness, visitors often praise its meticulously planned layout, reminiscent of a Cartesian graph centered around Temple Square, a sacred site for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS).

In 1847, Brigham Young, leader of Mormon pioneer settlers, designated the site for...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.1 Km or 1.9 Miles