Nancy Holt Sun TunnelsWendover, Ut
Land Art, Educational, and Breathtaking Historical Significance
Length: < 0.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 10 ft
Approximate Hiking Time: 10 min
Features: Land Art
Nearest Town: Wendover, Ut
In 1972 Nancy Holt installed an incredible piece of land art in Utah’s West Desert. Over 40 years later not only does the art still exist, but it’s in as good of shape as ever. Four concrete tubes line up perfectly with sunrise and sunset every summer and winter solstice. Additionally, holes in the tubes represent four constellations.
Don’t sweat it if you can’t make it on the solstice exactly. The size of the tubes, shapes, and the changing light from the holes drilled in the sides of the concreate tubes make it possible to enjoy this unique art experience any time of the year.
- Trail Condition 100% 100%
- Usage 15% 15%
- Trail Head Easy to Find 50% 50%
- Kid Friendly 100% 100%
Hike Tips & Tricks
1. When To Go
During sunrise and sunset on the Spring and Fall Equinox or the Summer and Winter Solstice. It’s better in the summer though because the roads can be impassable when wet.
2. What To Do
Watch the sunrise through the tunnels. Have a picnic. Visit the Lucin Ghost Town.
3. What To Bring
Come prepared. There is no cell service in the west desert. Bring plenty of water and food in case you get stuck and make sure you tell someone where you’re going and when to expect you back.
Starting from Wendover take the I-80 heading west towards Elko for about 32 miles. Take exit 378 towards Montello on Hwy 233 and continue on hwy 233/ut-30 for 43 miles. Here you’ll leave the highway onto a set of dirt roads. These roads may not be passable when wet. We got stuck for over an hour the first time we came out here. Come prepared!
Turn right onto Grouse Creek Road for 6.5 miles where the road changes to Pilot Mountain Road. You’ll pass a ghost town called Lucin on this road! Continue for another 1.2 miles before turning left onto Little Pigeon rd. You’ll be able to see the Sun Tunnels from here. Drive only as far as road conditions allow and walk the rest.
You can Google Maps the route to get here, but there is no cell service in the West Desert. Pay attention to the directions so you don’t get lost on your way back! You won’t be able to rely on a Google Map back.
If it’s raining or the ground is wet, park on the road and walk. While the road surface doesn’t look too bad in the summer, in winter and spring it’ll turn to a slippery muddy mess when wet.
Depending on where you park the walk up the road to the sun tunnels can be anywhere from 0.25 mi to 0.5 mi one way. Simply follow the grid roads until you reach the Nancy Holt Sun Tunnels.
Visiting the Nancy Holt Sun Tunnels at any time is a really cool experience, but a couple weeks before and after the equinox and solstice is the best time to visit. During these times the sun lines up with the tubes during sunrise and sunset. It’s only lasts for about 10 minutes so getting to the sun tunnels well before sunrise and sunset times is key.
That said, visiting the sun tunnels at any time is amazing. Imagine what it would be like to build this art installation in the middle of the desert in the 1970s.
Even today it’s far off the beaten path and you may have the place entirely to yourself. Come prepared. There is no cell service and the nearest main road is an 11 mi walk if something goes wrong. Bring blankets, lots of water, and food. As always, when travelling in the west desert let someone know where you are going and when you’ll be back so they can alert help if necessary.
On your way back from the Sun Tunnels make a stop at Lucin. It’s now a ghost town, but once supplied fresh water to steam engines running through the area.
Why is this hike easy/moderate?
Even in winter where you may need to hike over a mile to get to the sun tunnels (assuming the gravel roads are cleared most of the way), the hike is short and flat. Just watch out for the cow patties.
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