Antelope Island State Park

Since Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks we’d driven south passing through Wyoming, the corner of Idaho where we saw the Bear Lake Wildlife Reserve and into Utah. The road to Antelope Island took us through Cache National Forest which had beautiful mountain and river scenery in its own right [Just wait for more on Utah, wow!]. Having arrived in Ogden just north of Salt Lake City we found a nice suburban neighbourhood to stop our camper and bed down for the night and the next day we headed to Antelope Island State Park.

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Me in the Rushes (Taken off road verge at park entrance)

 

The plan was to camp a night, see the park, swim in the salt lake and generally have an awesome park experience before hitting Salt Lake City the following day. While paying our entrance fees we were warned about the biting flies, apparently they’re the only creature which thrives in the heavy saltiness of the Great Salt Lake along with the brine shrimp. As we drove out on the manmade peninsula from Syracuse we could literally see swarms of these ‘biting flies’ hovering on the shoreline. Taking a photo involved quickly opening the van door whilst simultaneously spraying fly spray everywhere to discourage the little bastards from getting in our van. To get back in I developed the technique of running around the van to lose as many flies as possible before fly spraying extensively and then jumping in. No joke, it was hilarious to watch.

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Mountain View from the Peninsula (The black dots are 'biting flies' not dirt on my lens)

 

The island has a visitors centre, a pleasant campsite, a beach with free cold showers or paid hot water showers plus antelope and roaming buffalo to keep your camping experience interesting. We headed to the beach, got changed and waded out in eager anticipation of swimming in the Great Salt Lake.

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Renee Walking Out into the Great Salt Lake

 

The Great Salt Lake is the largest salt water lake in the western hemisphere and it is very salty due to being endorheic – meaning that there is no outlet for water other than evaporation. Three main rivers deposit an estimated one million tons of minerals into the lake every year but nothing flows out. To give you an idea of how salty this lake is, the salinity of sea water normally ranges between 3.1% and 3.8% while the Great Salt Lake averages around 27% – close to 10x saltier.

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Playing in the Great Salt Lake

 

I was eager to experience firsthand the effect this greater water density would have on my ability to float. To give you some background my body is not naturally a good floater: in a fresh water pool I can sink to the bottom and stay there with no effort just by breathing out. In normal salt water I can float on my back for a while if I heavily breath in but eventually my feet always seem to sink and I need to kick back up to float again. We found the Great Salt Lake to be quite shallow and it took a lot of wading to finally get to waist deep water, there were also a lot of bird feathers and dead brine shrimp which we wanted to wade past before trying to float. Once deep enough I was amazed to find I could float with no effort at all. I could float on my front or my back with my hands, feet and head out of the water, it was incredible!

After our swim we showered and headed back to our campsite to cook dinner and later take some photos of the sunset and watch the buffalo.

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Bison Surrounding Camper on Antelope Island (Scary?)

 

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Our Camper at Sunset (Isn't she beautiful!)

 

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Sunset with Flying Bird on Antelope Island

 

Later in Salt Lake City I always asked people I met if they’d swam in the lake before and I never met someone who had. It seems many people don’t take the opportunity to swim; probably because of the high salinity, the brine shrimp and the biting flies but none of these add up to a proper excuse… Sure it’s not the cleanest lake but my advice is to do it, because how many opportunities do you get to swim in 27% salinity!

While on the island I also did a small hike to the peak and managed to get a few shots with my mobile phone.

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View of Beach from Antelope Island Peak

 

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View of Mountains from Antelope Island Peak

 

Lastly a final photo I like from Antelope Island State Park. This was taken while being swarmed by ‘biting flies’ so it was no easy feat to capture this bird in the rushes with the bison in the background and the snow capped mountains in the distance.

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Bird in Rushes with Bison and Mountains in Distance

 

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Comments

  1. Stunning photos mate! You guys should’ve taken a video of you running around the car trying to loose the flies! :)

    • Thank you. There have been so many times when I’ve thought “wish I’d filmed that,” but what can you do… I’ll just have to keep the camera within reach on video mode more often…

  2. Beautiful photos!! It is just me (optical illusion) or are those bison almost as big as the SUV? Like you said, kind of scary.

    • Bison are big and from where I was photographing from I didn’t think the lady should have been outside her car. However I believe its slightly optical as the bison were not SUV size, they must have been slightly closer to me.

  3. Hehe it made me laugh remembering the extreme lengths we went to in the attempt to lose the biting flies! If anyone is going here I recommend to get the head coverings like beekeepers. The worst thing is when they start biting your face and neck and then start creeping down into your top!

  4. In our board shorts and keen to go for a swim we were spotted straight away as being Australians…
    Close enough I guess!

  5. Hi Sam,
    Beautiful photos! I like the views from the top with the beach and the mountains in the distance. I’d love to go there except for the flies.
    I was hoping to see a photo of the antelopes. Weren’t any around?
    Yes, those Bison look huge and scary. Are they dangerous? They seem engrossed in feeding, perhaps that’s why that camper is outside.
    Thanks for sharing. Hope you and your girlfriend have more fun in your travels.

    • Thank you. It was a bit of a walk up but the view was well worth it. Fortunately the flies didn’t seem to be a problem after crossing the peninsula onto the island; probably a combination of windier weather, the hour of the day and distance from the water. We did spot an antelope on the island but didn’t manage to get a good photo. Our best antelope photo was in Yellowstone where Renee managed to get a photo of two ‘kissing’ – second animal down in this post http://samsplayground.com/wildlife-spotting-in-yellowstone-national-park/

  6. We loved (seriously, LOVED) playing in the water at Antelope Island…. even the flies couldn’t hold us back! :P I really don’t like to swim (y’know, fear of drowning and all that jazz), so I was particularly tickled with the whole floating business. I didn’t even have to work to stay alive!

  7. This looks like a stellar spot. I’ve been to Salt Lake City, but never the lake. Damn!

  8. Beautiful place…wow! Definitely need to spend more time in Utah

  9. Salt lake is looked like Dead Sea in Israel.

    • That would be nice to see. Have just been chatting with another backpacker in Alaska recently from Israel, will have to ask him if he’s been there.

  10. That grass you are standing in is Giant Reed Grass or Phragmites, an invasive species to most states including Utah.

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