The Great Salt Lake
The Great Salt Lake and its islands provide outstanding scenery and
recreational opportunities in northern Utah.
Sunsets over the lake can be breathtaking. Amazing red, orange, lavender and magenta hues slowly dissolve in the evening sky. The lake's turquoise waters attract sailors, its white sand beaches are popular with swimmers and sunbathers, and craggy outcroppings on Antelope Island and some shoreline areas draw hikers and mountain bikers.
The Great Salt Lake is one of the most asked-about tourist
destinations in Utah. A remnant of the massive ancient Lake Bonneville,
the lake is now landlocked and its waters are salty.
It is the largest lake between the Great Lakes and the Pacific Ocean, and is the largest saltwater lake in the Western Hemisphere.
Legends abound about the lake.
Early explorers thought the lake was an
inland extension of the Pacific Ocean, or that a river connected the
lake to the ocean. Some Indians and early settlers thought the lake was
inhabited by a terrible monster with an enormous head. The lake and its legends are an
intriguing part of Utah's landscape and history.
Swimming and sunbathing are popular on
the clean, white sand beaches at Antelope
Island State Park. The salinity of the water averages about 12%,
making it much saltier than the ocean. The water is so buoyant that
people can easily float. Freshwater showers are available to rinse off after swimming.
Kayaking on the Great Salt Lake is a great way to see some of the areas that you normally wouldn't see.
With 10,000 miles of shoreline it can be one of the most rewarding places to paddle in North America.
Wildlife is abundant on Antelope Island and in
the lake's shoreline marshes. Bison, antelope, deer,
bobcats, coyotes, and elk roam freely on the island and
are often seen by visitors. Bird watching is popular at many
spots around the lake, including the federally managed Bear River Bird
Refuge and the state's Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area.
The lake's marshes attract large numbers of migratory birds.
Duck and goose hunting is allowed in some areas and is usually very good.
Mountain biking is popular on excellent trails on Antelope and Stansbury islands. These areas also offer excellent hiking.
Antelope Island also offers excellent facilities for picnicking and camping.
Fish live in the freshwater marshes and inlets,
but no fish species can survive in the lake's salty water.
Unique brine shrimp thrive in the lake; they are harvested and
processed into fish food. Brine flies live on the lake's shorelines and can be annoying.
They don't bite but often swarm around humans. Antelope Island beaches are relatively free
of brine flies. Winds coming off the lake can carry a "lake stench" at some times of the year.
Again, the odor is usually not a problem at Antelope Island.
Antelope Island, Great Salt Lake
Spiral Jetty, North end of the Great Salt
Great Salt Lake Desert