Some might think it’s “creepy” that I find wandering in a cemetery fascinating, but there are so many stories to be told! I want to return again and again in order to learn about them all. And I think you will, too!
In fact, I think you’ll love it so much that I created this Salt Lake City Cemetery tour for the entire family to enjoy. With detailed maps, interesting facts, plus a fun scavenger hunt to keep the kids entertained, this Salt Lake City Cemetery tour has something for everyone. Historians, religious enthusiasts, and kids alike will find that wandering the hills of the Salt Lake City Cemetery isn’t as macabre as they once thought. ;)
What is the oldest cemetery in Utah?
The Salt Lake City Cemetery is a great place to learn about history. In fact, it is the oldest cemetery in the state of Utah! It’s a treasure trove of information about many of the people who had a significant impact on shaping our great state. There is even a bunch of cemetery trivia to discover, like...is the Sundance Kid really buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery? You’ll have to visit to find out!
Most of us are vaguely familiar with the basics of a cemetery, if for no other reason than visiting annually on Memorial Day. But in case you need to brush up on some finer points of cemetery knowledge, you’re in the right place.
What is the difference between a cemetery and a graveyard?
You’re not alone if you thought that the words “cemetery” and “graveyard” were totally interchangeable. So it might surprise you to know that a graveyard is a type of cemetery, but a cemetery is not necessarily a graveyard. Confused?
Historically speaking, graveyards (which came before cemeteries) were always attached to a church, as burials were under the authority of local Christian denominations. But once the worldwide population exploded, you know—sometime around the 7th century, cemeteries that were not attached to any churchyard became a thing. Presumably to solve the space (or lack thereof) issue and to remove burial authority from churches altogether.
Thus, a graveyard is a cemetery, but a cemetery is not necessarily a graveyard.
Is it disrespectful to walk on a grave?
Many do consider it disrespectful to walk on a grave. That said, how do you really define grave? If we’re talking about headstones, that’s a given. You should never walk on or touch a headstone, no matter how beautiful or interesting you find it. Of course, as you walk your Salt Lake City Cemetery tour, you’ll see that many of the graves are very old and touching them can cause damage beyond repair.
As for walking over the location where a person has actually been buried, avoiding it is best. That said, many graves are very close together or sometimes pointing in various directions making it difficult to know where the deceased actually lies. In such a case, just take care and proceed with respect.
What other cemetery etiquette should you observe?
It may seem obvious, but there are a few more points of etiquette to observe when taking your Salt Lake City Cemetery tour.
- Be respectful and sympathetic to any mourners at the cemetery.
- Observe roadways and never park on grass.
- Keep children from roughhousing or shouting.
- Avoid remaining in the cemetery after dark.
Salt Lake City Cemetery Tour
Ready to take the Salt Lake City Cemetery tour? Below are all the files, including maps and a treasure hunt!, that you will need for the self-guided tour:
Download this map first. This will show you where you will be driving, and what areas you will be seeing.
This is a map of what graves you will see in what area. Each area of the Salt Lake City Cemetery tour is broken down so that you park your car, walk around that area, then drive to the next area.
This is a more detailed account of what graves you are seeing, and more information about the people buried in the graves. If you follow along and see each grave in order, it will be an organized and easy way to see the cemetery.
Here is a scavenger hunt to keep your kids entertained while you wander the cemetery.
Interested in more historical Utah treasures? Check these out:
Grimm Ghost Tours (year round!)
Park City Ghost Tours (year round!)
What are your favorite Utah historical sites? Leave us a comment below!