So much to explore, so little time! Dig into our list of exciting locations around the Wendover area. Wendover has everything from beautiful mountain ranges to soothing hot springs. Whatever you are in the mood for, Wendover has something thrilling for you to explore!
The Bonneville Salt Flats
It’s hard to imagine that the desert lands East of Wendover were once part of the ancient Lake Bonneville. 1,000 feet deep and 325 meters wide, Lake Bonneville was sure to leave its mark it evaporated. Massive mineral deposits (90% of which were pure salt) had nowhere to go, leaving miles and miles of smooth white salt, reaching a depth of up to 5 feet at its center.
When “Big Bill” Rischel tried to cross the flats in 1896, he decided that crossing the vast stretch of land with only a bicycle was the wrong approach. He returned in 1907 to see if driving over the flats was a better option. After a test run in his Pierce-Arrow, Rischel knew he had a big opportunity on his hands. As the automotive editor of the Salt Lake Tribune, he was the right person to take advantage of it.
Start Your Engines
Big Bill organized his first race on August 12, 1914. He invited “Terrible” Teddy Tetzlaff, Billy “Coal Oil” Carlson, and Wilburn D’Alene to be the racers. “Terrible” Teddy came away in first place, setting the first Bonneville land speed record at 142.85 mph. Although the record couldn’t be officially recorded due to mirages’ interference with the speed readings, one of the Silver Island Mountain Range peaks surrounding the Salt Flats is now named after him.
In 1932, it was Ab Jenkin’s turn for a chance to put the Bonneville Salt Flats on the map. That he did, testing and improving a new car by driving an average of 112.916 mph over a 24-hour period. In 1933, he did it again, this time averaging 125 mph on the oval test course.
It wasn’t long before a few famous British racers took notice of this prime racing land. John Cobb, George Eyston, and Malcolm Campbell couldn’t resist the ideal driving conditions of this ancient lake bed, and their prominence in the racing arena put these salt flats on the map for good.
The Bonneville Raceway’s current land speed record is a whopping 622.407 mph, accomplished by Gary Gabelich in 1970.
The Bonneville Salt Flats are known for more than their land speed records, however. The otherworldly landscape has been a popular site for filming music videos and movie scenes, like Demi Lovato’s music video for “Skyscraper,” the movie Independence Day, and The World’s Fastest Indian. It’s also a popular site for photo shoots for amateur and professional photographers.
Bonneville Speed Museum
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The vast desert plains surrounding Wendover have proven to be irresistible backdrops for incredible pieces of artwork. Whether you like to ponder the meaning and purpose of works of art or capture a fun, unique snapshot, you’ll find some amazing pieces worth your time not too far from Wendover’s city limits.
Created by Swedish artist Karl Momen, The Tree of Utah sculpture has truly become a part of Wendover culture. Whimsical and interesting, it’s a fun attraction for all ages to visit and appreciate. The sculpture is an astounding 87 feet tall and took 17 months to complete. Wendover wouldn’t be the same without it.
This is a historic site that is rich in the sights, sounds and feelings that would have been present during the 1940’s when the Army Air Forces were training heavy bombers here. Walking into one of the barracks, hangars or any number of buildings, visitors can almost see the WW II airmen taking part in their training and living here at this isolated yet busy airfield.
Visitors will gain an appreciation for the ingenuity, dedication and sacrifice of our veterans as they see how our men and women won the war with equipment, tools and procedures that today we take for granted.
Visit the Wendover Airbase site to explore more of Wendover’s fascinating history.
The Tokyo Trolley
General Douglas McArthur said, “Wendover gunners were the best trained in the Army.” Thanks to the Tokyo Trolley, gunners were trained in realistic circumstances. The Tokyo Trolley was an advanced training device at the Wendover Airbase. First, gunners trained from stationary emplacements at stationary targets. Next, they moved to firing from stationary emplacements to moving targets. Finally, they trained in the most realist setting, a moving emplacement to a moving target. The gunners fired a .50 caliber gun on a rail car that moved along a section of track at 40 miles per hour. Their targets were mounted on moving jeeps that were unmanned. This difficult training resulted in high skilled gunners.
The Sun Tunnels are another amazing attraction unique to Wendover, but the trip to see them is not for the faint of heart. Here, you escape the press of urban life to a quiet and peaceful desert recess. During the summer and winter solstices, the sun rises and sets in the center of the tunnels. You’ll be able to see the constellations of Draco, Perseus, Columbia, and Capricorn shining through holes drilled into the concrete surface. A magical night of stargazing and maybe the lone call of a coyote could be the perfect way to unwind and escape the pressures of life.
Named by early pioneers, Pilot Peak was a distinct landmark that marked the way for safe passage to California. At its eastern base flows 11 springs of fresh water that slaked the thirst of many pioneer groups, including the infamous Donner party.
Today, it offers many hiking trails and spectacular views for modern-day travelers to explore. From the very top, you can look out over the salt flats and actually see the curvature of the earth–one of the only places in the world where that’s possible.
Danger and Jukebox Caves
The Danger and Jukebox caves are definitely worth seeing if you’re planning to visit Wendover. The caves are usually closed to the public, but you can schedule a tour with the Utah Division of Parks and Recreation to experience a brush with antiquity firsthand.
Danger Cave was originally called “Hands and Knees Cave,” because that’s the only way you could get into it. When a large rock broke away from the face of the entrance and nearly crushed a group of researchers in 1941, the cave was renamed “Danger Cave.” It’s been a major site for archaeological excavations, which is part of the reason it’s not accessible to the public.
Jukebox Cave was first known as “Picture Cave” or “Indian Cave,” referencing the cave drawings painted on its walls. Soldiers from the Wendover Airfield turned it into a makeshift dance hall during WWII. Henceforth, it was known as “Jukebox Cave.” Artifacts from this cave dates from as old as 10,000 years ago.
Blue Lake Hot Springs
Fifteen miles south of Wendover lies the pristine and aptly named Blue Lake Wildlife Management Area. It spans a 215-acre area of extensive wetlands and clear, deep lakes fed by natural hot springs. The largest is Blue Lake, at 48 feet deep.
Blue Lake is a popular spot for scuba diving between November and May, with trainings for those that want to learn the skill. It’s also a great place for hunting waterfowl and fishing for largemouth bass, bluegill, and sunfish. This destination is the perfect spot for anyone to explore.