Utah is synonymous with the Wild West, a place where ghost towns gently crumble and ranchers still tend their herds amid a landscape of soaring sandstone mesas and red-rock spires. Its iconic deserts have formed the backdrops for countless cowboy tales over the years, including the classic Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, which will celebrate its 50th anniversary this year.
The film tells the story of affable outlaw Robert Leroy Parker – born in Beaver – and his gang the Wild Bunch, set against the soaring vermillion cliffs of Zion National Park among other Utahn locations. You can track down Cassidy’s real-life hideout at Robbers Roost, forty miles east of Capitol Reef National Park. Other major milestones include the 25th anniversary of Forrest Gump and 50th anniversary of Easy Rider, both partly filmed in Monument Valley.
In 1869, the president of the Central Pacific Line drove a ceremonial golden spike into the ground near Ogden outside Salt Lake City, ending the race between two competing rail companies to finish the Transcontinental Railroad. The new cross-country route, stretching from the San Francisco Bay to Omaha in Nebraska, changed the face of the American West forever.
You can celebrate the 150th anniversary of the 'wedding of the rails' at the Golden Spike National Historic Site at Promontory Summit, where a ceremony will be held on May 10 flanked by two historic steam engines, the Jupiter and #119. There will also be various other events held throughout the year, including open houses, pageants and photo exhibitions.