Sun Tunnels |

Pilot Range

Roadside Attraction Sun Tunnels - Pilot Range Roadside Attraction Sun Tunnels
Pilot Range

Overview | Getting There | Route | Photos | Maps | Comments

Overview

RATING: Roadside Attraction
LENGTH: 1+ hours

Tue

54 | 26

Wed

60 | 30

Thu

58 | 31

Fri

60 | 34

Sat

62 | 36

View Full Weather Details
SEASON: Any if the roads are dry.
WATER: None.

Tue

54 | 26

Wed

60 | 30

Thu

58 | 31

Fri

60 | 34

Sat

62 | 36

View Full Weather Details
The Sun Tunnels

The Sun Tunnels

Between 1973 and 1976, artist Nancy Holt created a unique art piece in Utah’s remote west desert. The piece, known as The Sun Tunnels, consists of 4 concrete tubes. The tubes, each about 9 feet in diameter by 18 feet in length, are laid out on the flats just north and east of the PIlot Mountain Range. During summer and winter solstice, the sunrise and sunset is centered in view in two of the concrete tubes. This unique art piece is quite a contrast to the flat lands in is surrounded by. Each tube has drilled holes in it. The holes create the constellation Draco, Perseus, Columba, and Capricorn when either the sun or full moon light shines down.

I have visited the sun tunnels twice. The first time was on a summer solstice. Arriving late the evening before, I was shocked to arrive and find a large gathering of people camped around the sun tunnels! In the morning, the group gathered on the west side of the two tunnels that the sun would rise through in very quiet and reverent manner. You could have heard a pin drop as the sun began to rise through the tunnels. Once complete, people fairly quickly picked up and left.

My other visit was on an ordinary fall day. No one was around, and my 3-year-old daughter delighted in running around and through the tunnels.

Side Note: The Spiral Jetty was created by Robin’s husband Robert Smithson, at the north end of the Great Salt Lake. It is also in a remote and barren locale.
Notes: Be sure if visiting the roads are dry, and you have plenty of fuel, water, and supplies. This is a long way from the nearest services. The sun is more or less centered in the tubes for about 10 days before and after each solstice. If you can’t make it the day of, a few days before or after are quite similar, though seeing with a crown on solstice is recommended. I have tried many times to go for winter solstice, only to have it be overcast and cloudy. Summer, at least in my experience, is more likely to be clear weather and the best viewing.

Some camp around the tunnels but be respectful if primitive camping in the area. (No fires, pack out trash and human waste, etc...) There is no shade or facilities at the Sun Tunnels, though they can be delightfully cool to sit inside on a hot summer day.
Summer Equinox at the sun tunnels.

Summer Equinox at the sun tunnels.

Getting There

There are two approachs to the Sun Tunnels from I-80. If coming from the west, Lucin is the shorter option. If coming from the east, you can choose between the long dirt road approach from near Wendover, or the Lucin approach. The road from Wendover is generally passable by all vehicle when dry but can be quiet washboard at times. I recommend the Lucin approach since it is an easier drive. The Lucin approach also has a bit of dirt road, and also only recommended when dry.

Lucin Approach:
Take exit 378 from I-80 and head north on 233 toward Oasis/Montella. This exit is about 30 miles west of Wendover UT/NV. Follow NV-233 for 42.8 miles, crossing into Utah after about 34 miles.

Turn right onto Grouse Creek Road and reset your odometer. Stay in the main road for 7.7 miles. The road heads south, and passes by the ghost town of Lucin.

At 7.7 miles, turn right onto a lesser dirt road heading east. This was signed for the sun tunnels on my visit and is shown on the map below. See side road directions below.

Wendover Approach:
Reaching the trailhead starts by going north off I-15 at exit 4. This is a few miles east of Wendover, UT, and about 115 miles west of Salt Lake City.

Once off the freeway, reset your odometer on the north side of the freeway and head north toward Bonneville Salt Flats.

Reset Odometer at west bound stop sign off the Interstate.

  • 1.2 miles - left onto a paved road.
  • 1.95 miles - Stay left on paved road. Right is the east side of the Silver Island Byway.
  • 4.35 miles – Building and junction. Stay left. From here, stay on the main dirt road and it heads east to the base of the Pilot Range, then follows the range north.
  • 45.6 miles - Turn right onto a lesser dirt road heading east. This was signed for the sun tunnels on my visit and is shown on the map below. See side road directions below.

Side Road
Reset your odometer as you turn onto the side road.

  • 2.6 miles – Major junction. Go right.
  • 3.0 miles – The Sun Tunnels are ahead on the left. Go left, then right to reach them.
Toddler in a tube!

Toddler in a tube!

Route

The road ends right at the Sun Tunnels. Wander around as you see fit!


Maps

Printable Maps:
Sun Tunnels

12T 260232mE 4576416mN

N41° 18' 13" W113° 51' 50"

Junction To Side Road

12T 256584mE 4578634mN

N41° 19' 21" W113° 54' 30"

2.6 miles - Right (south)

12T 260053mE 4577529mN

N41° 18' 49" W113° 51' 60"

3 miles - Left, then right to Sun Tunnels

12T 260047mE 4576592mN

N41° 18' 18" W113° 51' 58"

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