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Salt Lake City’s Allen Park Reopens To Public After 50 Years

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — One park in Salt Lake City is reopening after being closed to the public for decades.

Allen Park, near Westminster College, officially reopens Sunday morning. 

It’s been getting busier almost anywhere you go in Salt Lake City, but there is still one place where the noise and traffic just melt away.

“It is like stepping back in time because of the environment, with so much nature right there,” said Karri Schlegel.

Schlegel is part of a group dedicated to saving Allen Park, which is right across the road from Westminster College, off 1300 East.

Salt Lake City decided to buy the 7-acre park earlier this year for about $7.5 million to keep it from possibly being developed.

Sunday morning, after being closed to the public for at least a half century, Allen Park is opening again.

“It’s unbelievable. It’s super exciting and we’re really excited to have it open,” said Schlegel.

When people start walking through, they’ll see not only the preserved nature, but also all the homes and buildings in the park.

That’s where the questions begin.

“The way they’re arranged in this little circle, that’s where the whole Hobbitville came from, right?” said Schlegel.

It’s in reference to The Lord of The Rings because the houses are small, with legends and rumors of dwarves living there, chasing out those who jumped the fence to get in.

In reality, many of the homes are former mining homes that were moved to the area by Dr. George Allen, who bought the land in the 1930’s.

Since he was President of the Utah Zoological Society at the time, Allen also kept a lot of animals on the property.

Some wildlife is still there.

“Just walking through now, we saw about a half dozen peacocks, we saw some hawks circling just a little while ago, there’s deer that come through,” said Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall. “It’s a beautiful really unique natural space.”

Allen Park will be open seven days a week, dusk to dawn.

The trick, though, is getting there.

Parking isn’t available at or in the park, so you’ll either have to take public transportation — UTA’s 220 bus runs nearby — to get close, or park elsewhere and walk there.

“You can come stroll and bring your dog,” said Mayor Mendenhall.

It’s also important to bring your sense of wonder, because in a place like this, it’s easy to escape the world for a little while.

“It’s so so important, I think, to just mental health — or everyone,” said Schlegel.

Just watch out for any dwarves and hobbits.

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