A visit to the Shooting Star Saloon is a journey into one of the most raucous anomalies in Utah’s teetotaling history. The thriving bar has endured 140 years among the haystacks and mountains of Huntsville, a small town outside of Salt Lake City.
By serving alcohol since 1879 (even during that tricky 14-year stretch of Prohibition), the Shooting Star Saloon made a name for itself as the oldest continuously operating bar in the state. And while the building’s exterior harkens back to its Wild West heritage, a dive bar aesthetic reigns supreme inside.
Locals shoot pool, listen to the jukebox’s vinyl 45s, drink beer, and eat one thing. A posted sign explains the bar’s specialties: “BEER burgers with chips BEER.” But what the kitchen does, it does well. The limited menu’s claim to fame is the Star Burger, made from Polish sausage sandwiched between two beef patties and melted cheese.
The ceiling is plastered with dollar bills. Countless patrons have signed and added their own money, using it as something of a guest book. One guest estimated $14,000 in wallet-based decorations, the tradition ended in 2019. Bathrooms are a shrine to graffiti, stickers, and commentary, and dispensers filled with gritty Borax soap powder offer nostalgic reminders of public school washrooms.
But the Shooting Star’s most noteworthy piece of decor is the head of a 298-pound Saint Bernard—fitted over the taxidermy mold of a grizzly bear—mounted on the wall. The gargantuan dog’s owner lovingly preserved him after his death in 1957. Locals call him “Buck.”
Know Before You Go
You must be 21 to enter and the bar is cash-only.