Metaphor off in the distance.

Metaphor, the Tree of Utah

Field review by the editors.

Wendover, Utah

We give some credit to the State of Utah for at least tolerating experiments with environmental comedy. "Metaphor: The Tree of Utah" can't be serious. Metaphor is an 87-foot tall sculpture poking up out of the white plains of the Bonneville Salt Flats.

The Tree was created in the early 1980s by European artist Karl Momen. It is also known as "Metaphor: The Tree of Life." It was dedicated in 1986 as "A hymn to our universe whose glory and dimension is beyond all myth and imagination." Artist Momen doesn't have to look at it; he bought patch of land, built the thing, and went back to Sweden.

Near the base of the Tree, there are several fallen "leaves" -- large spherical segments intentionally scattered on the salty ground. It's where your traveling companions would pose if this were a tourist attraction instead of a work of art.

Not that they could pose even if they wanted to. Utah doesn't want you to stop, and Momen didn't spring for the cost of an exit ramp. There is no parking lot or pull-off. For years there were "Emergency Parking Only" signs along the highway, although a surprising number of emergencies happened right there, always with vehicles that had people with cameras.

In 2008 the "Emergency Parking Only" signs were replaced by a metal, barbed-wire-topped fence that now surrounds the sculpture. We're not sure what kind of a metaphor that is, but it doesn't seem very friendly.

Metaphor, the Tree of Utah

Address:
I-80 West, Wendover, UT
Directions:
North side of I-80 mile marker 26 on the north side, 25 miles east of Wendover, NV; 95 miles west of Salt Lake City.
Hours:
Daylight, no stopping.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
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August 28, 2014

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