It seems incongruous that land-locked Utah would be home to an island. An island surrounded by salt water no less.
But, Utah, with its mountains, deserts, salt flats and salt lake is truly a land of diversity.
Antelope Island is one of our treasures, and is located just a few miles from downtown. From the mainland, the island appears barren and deserted, but this vision belies the abundance of flora and fauna that make the island their home. Easily accessible by crossing over on a 7-mile paved causeway, or by boat, it boasts white sandy beaches, a sailboat marina, nearly 40 miles of hiking, biking and horseback riding trails, wildlife viewing, picnicking, camping, and, because of the distance from the city and its lights, stargazing.
The Great Salt Lake, in historic times, has varied from 4,192 to 4,212 feet above sea level. There is no outlet to the sea, so the depth depends on precipitation. The largest lake west of the Mississippi River, it is approximately 30 miles wide and 70 miles long. Its depth averages 13 feet, and maxes out at 34 feet. The salt content varies depending on the water level, but percentages of salt have been as high as 27%, eight times higher than the ocean. This gives the water buoyancy and legend goes that swimmers will float without sinking.
The island encompasses 28,022 acres, with an elevation range from 4200 ft to its highest peak at 6596 ft.
Antelope Island got its name in 1845 after a successful antelope hunt by John C. Fremont and Kit Carson. Fremont wrote: "On the island we found grass and water and several bands of antelope. Some of these were killed, and in memory of the grateful supply of food they furnished, I gave their name to the island."
The causeway was submerged due to record high lake levels for a decade, making it accessible only by boat. The lake receded, and, in July 1993 Antelope and was reopened to visitors as a state park, complete with a visitor's center, modern rest rooms and showers, RV and primitive camping, a marina, and group picnicking facilities.
Bison were introduced to the island in 1893, and now the approximately 600 head are the property of the state, and managed by the Utah Division of Parks and Recreation. Visitors are welcome at the island's bison corral and management facilities. During the annual bison roundup each fall, visitors can watch a working bison ranch in action as the animals are herded, branded, inoculated and released.
Antelope were reintroduced in 1993 and can be viewed from various lookout points.
Because of extensive marshlands around the Great Salt Lake, Antelope is visited by numerous migrating birds, and inhabited by those who stick out the winter in Utah.
Other wildlife frequently seen are deer, elk, bobcats, coyotes, and bighorn sheep.
The best time to see the blooms is in late May to early June. Various species are ready to be spotted and photographed. Please do not pick them!
Accessible from I-15, take exit #335 (near Layton). Antelope Island State Park is seven miles west of I-15.
Vary depending on season. Contact the office.
Fee: (2004 prices)
Day Use: $8 per vehicle, or $4.00 for walk-ins and cyclists
Call the Utah State Parks and Recreation, 322-3770 in the
Salt Lake City area or toll-free 1-800-322-3770, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Visa, MasterCard and personal checks are accepted. Group reservations are made by calling the park at: (801) 773-2941
Antelope Island State Park
4528 West 1700 South
Syracuse, UT 84075