Salt Lake City
Salt Lake City
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The city itself boasts a meager population at 186,440 but has 1.1 million in the metropolitan area which is part of the larger Wasatch Front, home to 2.2 million. It lies on the Wasatch Mountain Range, at the edge of the Rockies. Salt Lake City, "Crossroads of the West", has always been a transient city and remains transient in modern times.
To differentiate yourself from a tourist, refer to Salt Lake City as "Salt Lake" (without "City"). Home to the world's largest population of Latter Day Saints (Mormon), Salt Lake City can be conservative at times. So when hitching in, out, or just through, be aware of your appearance if you want to open yourself up to rides from a broader population.
Don't waste your time trying to hitch out of the city. Take public transit as far as possible before thumbing it. Pretty cheap to get north to Ogden, south to Provo. Many hotels have free airport shuttles. Play it cool and pretend you're a hotel guest. The airport is right on I-80 if you're looking to head east/west.
There are a few big truck stops at Lakepoint junction about 10 miles west fo Salt Lake. You can reach it by public bus from the city. Its ether 451 or 453 (towards Tooele), or another 454 (to Grantsville). You can take them on North Temple street, just north of the temple square in Salt lake downtown. Its a normal ~$2 bus fare. Note that there are only a few buses a day, one yearly in the morning and several in the afternoon, so you have to organize yourself. When at the truck stops you can try to ask around or make a sign going "west". The spot is not perfect as most of traffic going towards the city, but you might get lucky and someone going the other way will notice you (it took me 4 hours waiting to get a ride to Nevada)
"I had a different experience than the author of this page, possibly due to being a young woman. First, SLC seemed like a waste of time to hitch from: Love's was under heavy police patrol, I saw a "lot lizard" as early as 15:00, and no truckers wanted to pick up a hitcher from an urban area. Got on the bus towards Tooele and was offered a ride straight to Sacramento within 10 minutes of raising a West sign at the Lakepoint Flying J. Also, Lakepoint is a pretty place with a cheap market with lotsa samples."
There is a decent on-ramp of sorts that leads to Interstate 80 East (I-80) and I-215 South. You can take bus 21 from downtown to 2300 E 2100 S (near the Blue Plate Diner), and walk on 2100 S toward the mountains, which is about about 15 minutes to Maywood Drive at Parley's Way. There is a Walmart Supercenter across the street where you can buy markers and poster board. Since traffic goes East or South from here, a sign is necessary - regardless of distance you want to travel, I would just write "Park City," or "Evantston" on the sign. As metioned above, Salt Lake City is somewhat conservative, even the liberals; make yourself presentable. Twice in the Mid-Afternoon with a bright green sign, I was picked up by commuters, first within 30 minutes, and second time within 10.
Another option to get there is Bus 228 to Foothill / I-80, but I have yet to explore this.
South towards Saint George and Las Vegas
There is a Flying J in downtown Salt Lake if you can find it, but a lot of this traffic is going East/West on I-80, so consider catching a few local rides from the city south past Provo to the Flying J at Utah highway 75 exit instead. This is a good place to wait for a long distance ride to the Grand Canyon or Las Vegas area.