Discover Salt Lake City’s Hidden Gem: The Unique Gilgal Sculpture Garden

Nestled in the heart of Salt Lake City’s Central City district lies a hidden gem of original sculptures that are the brainchild of Thomas Battersby Child Jr. This outdoor activity is perfect for those looking to explore secret spots in the city and learn more about its rich history. Child’s sculptures are spread throughout the park, each with its own unique story and significance. In this article, we will take you on a journey to discover the hidden sculptures of Salt Lake City’s Central City and why it’s a must-visit spot for residents and tourists of the area!

Gilgal Sculpture Garden

Gilgal Garden in SLC, sculpture

The Gilgal Sculpture Garden, a perfect spot for relaxation and contemplation, is a testament to the artistic vision of Thomas Battersby Child Jr in 1945, at age 57. He purchased a plot of land close to downtown Salt Lake City and transformed it into an outdoor gallery featuring twelve enigmatic sculptures that dramatize themes from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and other religious traditions. The intention of this garden was to bring Childs’ deep-felt beliefs to a physical form. Found on the Gilgal Gardens website, he wrote, “If you want to be brought down to earth in your thinking and studying, try to make your thoughts express themselves with your hands,”.

This visionary art environment includes 12 original sculptures and over 70 engraved stones with scriptures, poems, and other literary texts. The iconic “sphinx” sculpture, depicting a human-like face with a lion’s body, is just one of the many noteworthy sculptures on display. Other sculptures include “The Monument to Peace”, a representation of a verse from Isaiah, and Elijah’s Cave. Each sculpture has its own unique symbolism and story behind it that is sure to wow you and your family.

Gilgal Garden in SLC, sculpture

My favorite part of the experience was the opportunity to learn and listen along with an audio tour that’s provided on the Gilgal Garden Website. This audio tour walks you through the garden, explaining the in-depth story of each sculpture, making exploring the garden an unforgettable experience. You can also take the time to learn about how he created these sculptures, and how the Friends of Gilgal Garden has worked to preserve and care for the garden since 1997. The Friends of Gilgal Garden is a group dedicated to the preservation of the garden’s art and history that works tirelessly to maintain this unique attraction.

Besides the sculptures, Gilgal Sculpture Garden also features several landscaping elements that help create an atmosphere of serenity. The garden features lush plants and trees and benches, all combined to create a tranquil atmosphere perfect for relaxation or contemplation.

While the garden has a religious purpose, even those who don’t share the same religious beliefs can thoroughly enjoy the visit. It is full of rich history and commendable work that is an enjoyable feat for everyone. Whether you’re looking for a fun way to learn about Salt Lake City’s rich history, or looking for a peaceful spot to relax, Gilgal Gardens is sure to exceed your expectations.

Location & Nearby Attractions

Gilgal Garden in SLC, sculpture

Address: 749 East 500 South, Salt Lake City, UT

The Gilgal Garden is tucked away between some residential houses off of 500 South, right near Trolley Square Shopping Mall. Finding the location can be a little tricky if you don’t know exactly where you’re going since it’s so tucked away. You can either park in the shopping mall parking lot and walk the short distance to the garden, or park right on 500 South. The entrance to the garden has an iron fence, with a small sign showing the garden information including hours of operation.

If you’re in the area for a day of exploration, there are plenty of things to do nearby Gilgal. From hiking trails to shopping centers and parks, there is something for everyone!

Gilgal Garden in SLC, sculpture

For those looking for an explorative outdoor adventure, there are plenty of hikes just a short drive from Gilgal Garden. You can take on a tranquil walk up City Creek Canyon, or go on a more challenging hike up Ensign Peak. The garden is also located near many different parks that are fun for the whole family, such as Liberty Park or Memory Grove Park

If you’re looking for more of a city experience, you and your family can visit the public library which is just a short trip from the garden, or explore one of the many shopping centers like the City Creek Center. Salt Lake City has so much to offer, so I encourage you to try and find some other hidden gems in the area!

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Garden Facilities

Gilgal Garden in SLC, sculpture

Gilgal Gardens offers easy-access parking spots with wheelchair and stroller access if you park right off of 500 South between 700 and 800 East in front of the entrance. The entrance and all throughout the park have paved sidewalks for visitors to walk on, making it easily accessible for everyone. 

The Garden also allows for small event use, weddings, receptions, and more. You can make online reservations on their website, or learn more. While the Garden does not allow food, it could still make for a wonderful event space. 

You are even encouraged to bring your furry friends along for the tour! Dogs must remain leashed for the entirety of the park, and proper cleanup is required of owners.

Garden Hours

Gilgal Gardens is open to the public seven days a week, with no admission charge. From April to September the garden is open from 8 AM – 8 PM. From October to March it is open 9 AM – 5 PM. Gilgal Gardens remains closed on New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. 

Gilgal Garden in SLC, sculpture

Best Ages To Visit

Gilgal Sculpture Garden is a unique and fascinating destination for all ages. Children will love exploring the whimsical sculptures and hidden paths, while adults can appreciate the artistry and symbolism behind each piece. The garden also offers educational opportunities for people of all ages, with its history and unique blend of art and nature. Overall, Gilgal Sculpture Garden is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in art, history, or nature, regardless of age.

Climbing on the sculptures and going off the trails is not allowed, so if you have smaller kids, just be aware and respectful of the beautiful creations. 

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Best Time Of Year To Visit

Gilgal Garden in SLC

The best time of year to visit Gilgal Sculpture Garden is during the spring and summer months when the weather is warm and the garden is in full bloom. Visitors can enjoy the beautiful scenery and unique sculptures. The garden is open year-round, but the winter months can be cold and snowy, making it less enjoyable to explore. However, if you don’t mind the cold, visiting the garden during the winter can offer a peaceful and serene experience with fewer crowds.

Gilgal Garden in SLC, sculpture

Conclusion

Gilgal Sculpture Garden in Salt Lake City, Utah, is a must-visit destination for families looking for an educational and intriguing experience. The garden’s unique sculptures offer insight into the history and culture of the area, and visitors can learn more about each piece through the available audio tours. Not only is the garden a great way to explore history, but it’s also a beautiful and peaceful outdoor space that provides a welcome escape from the city. Whether you’re a local or a tourist, Gilgal Garden is a must-see destination that is sure to leave a lasting impression on the whole family!

The article was contributed by Kaitlyn Greenfield. She is a freelance writer and graphic designer based in Utah with over 5 years of experience. She loves to explore the breathtaking beauty of Utah’s landscape, discovering something new each time. As an avid learner and creative, Kaitlyn values the limitless possibilities that Utah presents and cherishes the beautiful mountains and nature parks that provide her with a sense of home.

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