Mountains and clouds reflect in the Great Salt Lake.

Magnificent Great Salt Lake and Antelope Island

Antelope Island, Utah

On a recent visit to Utah, the Great Salt Lake and Antelope Island State Park were two of our must-see places. The first thing we learned is that Antelope Island is about an hour drive or 41 miles north of Salt Lake City. Most importantly, there is only one road in and out of the island so getting there was a little more difficult than we expected.

From Salt Lake City, we drove north on Interstate 15 and then took Exit 322 and headed west on Antelope Drive. The view of the Great Salt Lake accompanied the sulfur smell of the lake’s dense salt-laden air. It hit out noses with an odor that was several times more pungent than an ocean breeze.

A blue sky and puffy clouds top the Great Salt Lake,
The Great Salt Lake is an excellent venue to kayak.

Mesmerized by our surroundings, we stopped to take photos before we even approached the Antelope Island Visitor Center. At the center, we paid the $10 entrance fee that includes a vehicle with up to eight passengers.

From Antelope Island, we dazzled in the snow-peaked Wasatch Mountains topped by puffy clouds that floated in indigo. Not only was the backdrop extraordinary, but the scenery that reflected in the Great Salt Lake created a double-duty effect. The setting of the Great Salt Lake is magnificently beautiful, plus the lake surrounds Antelope Island where there is plenty to see and do.

Antelope Island

Antelope Island is the largest of the Great Salt Lake islands. It comprises 28,000 acres with 36 miles of trails that twist through the hills and flatlands. The island is an excellent place to exercise. You can hike or bike, or you can take a trail ride on horseback. Another option is to see the island by car.

Shorebirds skitter on the shore of the Great Salt Lake.
Desert scrub lines the shoreline of the Great Salt Lake, Utah.

Antelope Island Wildlife

If you enjoy wildlife, you won’t be disappointed. You can find a wide range of birds and mammals on the island. You may see shorebirds, game birds, owls, hawks, magpies, larks and more.

Other wildlife inhabitants on Antelope Island include American bison, pronghorn antelope, mule deer, California bighorn sheep, coyotes, bobcats, owls, and lizards. Be aware that the state park posts warnings about the wild animals. Since animals are unpredictable and may attack, you should watch them from afar.

 Antelope Island Camping

Antelope Island State Park offers campsites for tents and RV’s. Though I’m not a camper, the lakeside parks appear to be a camper’s dream. Can you imagine waking up surrounded by the mountain and lake scenery while the deep roasted aroma of your freshly brewed coffee wafts through the air?

Moreover, it seems challenging to find a better venue to fire up your grill and dine, while the sun turns the lake into a collage of red, yellow, and orange before it drops.

The Great Salt Lake sparkles below the sun.
The sun begins to drop over the Great Salt Lake.

Great Salt Lake

Some label Antelope Island a desert in the middle of an ocean. Though calling the Great Salt Lake an ocean is a stretch, it’s large and extends 75 miles in length and is 35 miles wide. Furthermore, two hundred miles of shoreline circle the lake.

The average depth is 14 feet, and 34 feet is the maximum drop. With plenty of space and enough depth, it’s the perfect venue to kayak, sail, canoe, paddleboard, pedal boat, and swim. Additionally, Antelope Island offers a marina for sailboats, powerboats, and kayaks.

Antelope Island Activities

With an expansive shoreline, Antelope Island offers beaches where you can sunbathe and swim. The Great Salt Lake is five times saltier than the ocean, making it the perfect environment to float. If you take a swim, you should be aware that when your clothes dry they will feel stiff from the salt. Therefore, you should make a point to wash them in fresh water.

The salt affects marine life too. It’s difficult for most species of marine life to survive in the Great Salt Lake, but it’s the ideal environment for algae and brine shrimp.

In addition to taking advantage of the lake activities, there are other things that you can do on Antelope Island. You can tour the historic Fielding Garr Ranch that was built in 1848 and was privately owned until the 1960’s. You can also buy a  trail ride package and experience the island from horseback.  Moreover, the island has a restaurant, Island Buffalo Grill, where you can grab a burger, hot dog, or sandwich.

The Wasatch Mountains rise near the Great Salt Lake
Antelope Island offers views of the Wasatch Mountains.

Great Salt Lake State Park

Another option to Antelope Island is the Great Salt Lake State Park. If you love watersports and boating, you can find plenty to do at the marina on the south side of the lake. They offer sunset dinner cruises, sailboat charters and lessons, kayaks, paddleboards, pedal boats, and more.

Antelope Island Campground

Tent and RV campsites include Bridger Bay Campground, White Rock Bay Campground, Lakeside Group Campsite, and Ladyfinger Campground. Reservations are strongly recommended and must be made at least two days in advance.  Additionally, modern restrooms and shower facilities are available.

A bison on the shoreline of the Great Salt Lake
We spotted an Antelope Island bison on the shore of the Great Salt Lake.

Antelope Island Hours

Open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily and closed Thanksgiving and Christmas

Antelope Island Visitors Tips

  • Bring bug repellent
  • Dogs must be contained on a six-foot leash or less
  • Campsite Reservation Phone:  (801) 322-3770

Conclusion

As mentioned above, between the Great Salt Lake, Antelope Island, and the Great Salt Lake State Park, there is something for everyone. You can relax with a book or choose from the many activities. Worse case scenario, you can just sit back and enjoy the scenery and camaraderie.

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27 thoughts on “Magnificent Great Salt Lake and Antelope Island

  1. I had not heard of Antelope Canyon but it looks lovely. I love hiking so sounds like a great place for me. Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard.

    1. With the multitude of trails and the scenery, it’s the perfect place to hike. #TheWeeklyPostcard

  2. Beautiful photos! We took a road trip around Utah a few years ago and I’m sorry that I didn’t make it here. I guess we’ll save it for next time!

    1. It is beautiful, and I loved seeing the lake and mountains when we flew over them too. #TheWeeklyPostcard

  3. Wow – the sky is so beautiful. It just seems to stretch on forever! I’m supposed to go to Salt Lake for a conference in September, but it seems unlikely that I will have the opportunity to do much sightseeing. I feel like we need to take a trip just to see the natural beauty of Utah; the pictures make it seem so peaceful and beautiful!

    1. Honestly, the beauty of the Great Salt Lake is breathtaking, I’m sorry that you won’t be able to sightsee.

  4. Thanks for letting me know about these beautiful parks. We’ve been to Utah many times but never visited Great Salt Lake or Antelope Island. We sometimes go there for skiing. Can these be visited in winter time, or they are closed? #TheWeeklyPostcard

    1. Anda, thanks for your comment. They are open in the winter and I believe they offer cross country skiing, though I don’t think that they get much snow because of the saltiness of the Great Salt Lake. #TheWeeklyPostcard

  5. Beautiful places, but then again, Utah has some of the best landscapes. We visit the state often, but havne’t been in this area yet. Thanks for putting them on my radar.

    1. Emese-Reka, Thanks for commenting. I hope that you get to visit the Great Salt Lake and Antelope Island on one of your visits to Utah.

  6. Wow, your photos are gorgeous! There is not doubt that we have a lot of wonderful places in this country. I have been to Utah only once. I know I have to make it to the Salt Lake City area one day.

    1. Thank you Ruth, I lucked out getting some of those photos, and I hope that you get to see it one day.

  7. Dorothy, your photos and the views are just stunning! Kudos! Especially incredible are the reflections of the clouds in the water, just like a mirror, and the gorgeous mountain backdrop. I might even be persuaded to camp here. I was actually born in Salt Lake City but I’ve never been to Utah as an adult. Time to change that…

    1. Thank you so much Cynthia, the Great Salt Lake and the mountains are gorgeous. Yes, you need to make a return trip one day.

  8. Wow! The reflection of the mountains on the lake is absolutely stunning. This sounds like such a relaxing way to spend the day! Thanks for sharing!

  9. I have been to Utah on multiple occasions and absolutely fell in love with this state! So much beauty and natural wonders exist in one place. Utah is one of a few states where I wouldn’t mind to move to for at least a couple of years.

    1. It’s beautiful, and it’s an excellent destination for those that enjoy skiing and hiking.

  10. I’ve been to Salt Lake City a couple of times but still haven’t made it to Antelope Island! It sounds like such an awesome place to visit though. So different from the mountains on the other side of the city! Hard to believe an island in the middle of the lake has that much wildlife!

  11. Love Antelope Island so much! I made a last minute stop there in June and I can’t belive that I almost missed it. Can’t wait to return!!

    1. Danie, due to a busy schedule, we also almost missed it, and I am glad that we were able to see it.

  12. I would really love to go to the Great Salt Lake in person but for now your (very pretty!) photos will have to do! I have flown over it before en route to Alaska, and we even had a layover at the Utah airport, but I don’t think that counts haha.

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