Nestled in the scenic Castle Valley, Helper is known for its rich history, natural beauty, and its transition to a fun town with festivals and art galleries.
Looking for the best things to do in Helper, Utah?
Helper, Utah, offers entertainment, concerts, a charming Main Street, a lot of railroad and mining history, art galleries, and more.
In this article, I’ll give you a game plan and walking tour for visiting Helper, Utah.
About Helper, Utah
Originally established as a coal mining town in the late 19th century, Helper got its name from the helper train engines that helped pull the train cars through the steep canyon.
It was a booming town for a while, and workers from all over the world came to work for the railroad or the coal mine. At one point, over 27 languages were spoken in this small town.
Helper has evolved into a charming community with a population of around 2,000 residents.
The town offers a mix of small businesses, art galleries, and eateries, all set underneath the backdrop of the nearby cliffs.
Visiting Helper on a Weekend Road Trip
This article will provide you with a walking tour of Helper, but if you have more time, check out my Perfect 3-Day Road Trip Through Central Utah, which includes Helper as well as the San Rafael Swell, Nine Mile Canyon, and Green River. This is a gorgeous and lesser-known (and lesser crowded) part of Utah!
Getting to Helper
Helper is located on Highway 6, a major transportation and trucking route that connects Utah’s populated Wasatch Front with I-70 and the Green River/Moab area.
Most people drive right by, but Helper is certainly worth stopping on the way.
Helper Saturday Vibes
On the second and fourth Saturdays of every month, Helper’s Main Street turns into a party with live music and food.
I would definitely try to time your visit on a Helper Vibes weekend, if possible.
Utah’s Christmas Town
Helper advertises itself as “Utah’s Christmas Town” due to its large Christmas parade on the first weekend of December.
They have an electric light parade, a chili dinner, and breakfast with Santa.
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Here’s a fun game plan to explore Helper, Utah. This walking tour consists of walking about 1 mile and it should take 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on whether you eat lunch, explore the museum, or stop for pictures.
Download the Free Audio Guide
Before you go, I recommend getting the free audio guide, produced by Carbon County Tourism. To get it, you’ll need to download the free TravelStorys app from the app store, then search for Helper, Utah.
The audio guide will begin at stop 3 on my walking tour below. It’s triggered by GPS, so all you need to do is open the audio guide and follow my walking tour below. The audio guide will automatically play as you walk along Main Street.
1. Park at the Swinging Bridge
To begin your journey, park at the Swinging Bridge just off Main Street. From here, you’ll complete a loop through the town.
2. River Walk
Check out the swinging bridge if you’d like, then walk along the river all the way to Poplar Street. You’ll get nice river views and sounds on this 0.4-mile walk.
Along the way, you’ll see several historic displays, as well as displays putting our solar system in context!
3. Helper Mining Display
This outdoor display has several mining machines and is a great way to learn a little bit about how mines operate. Just walk through the exhibits and read about them as desired.
4. Conoco Station
This charming little retro gas station is actually an Airbnb – you can stay here! It’s also a great photo op.
- If you’re struggling to know where to stay, a great tool to use is booking.com. We use them as a great resource to compare prices and ratings all in one place.
5. The Helper Museum
This is a FREE museum (donations encouraged) that has a surprising amount of exhibits. In fact, there are over 40 rooms in this museum, which used to be a hotel and brothel.
My favorites were the brothel room, the WPA art gallery, and the display downstairs about Butch Cassidy and the Castle Gate robbery.
By the way, you can see the actual location of the robbery about 4.5 miles north of Helper. There’s a roadside pullout with several displays. One of the displays is about the robbery, and one is about a tragic mining accident that killed 171 miners.
6. Walk Main Street
Main Street is a cute area with several vintage signs and displays.
The Balance Rock Eatery served really good food, and Aunt Nells has a cute old soda fountain bar where they serve ice cream.
Notice the retro JCPenney, the many art galleries, Main Street Park, and the old movie theater. Just walk along and see what catches your eye!
7. Helper Train Station
The railroad built Helper, and it’s still active today, including as an Amtrak stop along the California Zephyr route!
8. Big John
Big John stands as a proud symbol of the mining industry here, and the audio guide will explain more about him and his story.
9. Sinclair Gas Station
Helper is bookended by two retro gas stations. The south end has the Conoco Station, and this end has the Sinclair Station. These are both Airbnbs that you can stay at if you’d like.
Things to do Nearby
I hope this guide helps you enjoy Helper, Utah, and don’t forget to check out the other things to do near Helper, Utah, on our Perfect 3-Day Road Trip Through Central Utah.