Visiting Salt Lake City is not complete without a trip out to see the Great Salt Lake! We choose to visit Antelope Island State Park which covers the largest island located within the Great Salt Lake. It is a bit of a trek from downtown Salt Lake City with an almost two hour drive to reach the park - but we loved visiting this beautiful park! Home to antelope, bison, deer, bobcats and numerous varieties of birds - exploring this park is a wildlife lovers dream! In fact, over 600 bison live on Antelope Island! In addition to the vast amount of wildlife - swimming in the Great Salt Lake is another top attraction while visiting Antelope Island State Park. The Great Salt Lake is quite large at over 1,700 square miles with no outlets, creating extreme salinity - making the water super buoyant and fun for floating upon! Listed below are some of the highlights of our time spent visiting Antelope Island State Park.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
LADY FINGER POINT
For a quick hike, our first stop upon entering Antelope Island State Park was hiking the half mile roundtrip Lady Finger Point Trail. Offering great views out over the Great Salt Lake, this is a great family friendly walk with numerous rock scrambling opportunities for the kids! Our son loved climbing and playing around along this trail!
Our next stop was at the Antelope Island Visitor Center where you can catch a short informational video, read the displays to learn more about the park and just enjoy the views out over Antelope Island and of the Great Salt Lake. Even on a gray, smoke filled day as we had when visiting the park, the views from here were wonderful!
For those of you wanting to take a swim in the Great Salt Lake and experience it's extreme buoyancy, Bridger Bay is the spot! Here you will find a large sandy beach where you can access the Great Salt Lake shoreline. A 550 yard walk will take you out to the waters edge where you will need to wade out for quite a bit as the water is very shallow. After getting deep enough - take a float! Experience the salty, buoyant water and float upon the Great Salt Lake! A quick warning though - the shoreline may be very buggy depending on the season you visit and many people are turned away from wanting to swim due to the extreme amount of brine flies found here. Brine flies love the algae found along the shoreline of the Great Salt Lake that forms from the high salt content of the waters. Due to this this - large, massive amounts of these brine flies fill the shorelines of the Great Salt Lake. My advice - just go fast! Run past the gross flies until you are out in the water - then it becomes much less buggy and much more pleasant! Another tip - do not swim in the water if you are sun-burnt. Our son had a son burn on the back of his neck and screamed total bloody murder once the salty waters hit his neck! Needless to say - swimming at the Great Salt Lake was not one of his favorite experiences!
BUFFALO POINT TRAIL
For another quick, easy hike - we enjoyed hiking the 0.8 mile Buffalo Point Trail. From the parking lot there is a large observation deck to take in the views. From here, start the trail up to Buffalo Point. With 248 feet in elevation gain, the exposed trail can be a bit hot in the extreme summer heat but the views are worth it! From Buffalo Point you can enjoy the panoramic views over the Great Salt Lake, hunt for lizards among the rocks and possibly even view bison or antelope in the distance.
FIELDING GARR RANCH
First established in 1848 by Fielding Garr who had been assigned by the Mormon church to establish a ranch here, the Fielding Garr Ranch was run by the Mormon church until 1870s. In 1869, the Federal government opened up the rest of the island to homesteading and the Fielding Garr Ranch passed thru numerous owners including becoming one of the largest cattle ranches in Utah until it became part of Antelope State Park in 1981. Walking thru the property was like stepping back in time - we loved exploring the old buildings, farm machinery and old trucks found along the farm property. In addition, this area is one of the best areas to view the bison. While the bison do wander all over the island, they are particularly drawn to the natural springs found on this part of the island.
Interested in planning your own trip to Antelope Island State Park, Utah? Below is our summarized itinerary for you to follow or adjust to your own preferences. ENJOY!
Day 1: From Salt Lake City drive to Antelope Island State Park (just under a 2 hour drive, leave by 7:30am): $10 entrance fee, Lady Finger Point (0.5 miles roundtrip), Visitor Center (opens at 9am), Swim at Bridger Bay Day Use Area, Buffalo Point Trail (0.08 miles roundtrip), Historic Fielding Garr Ranch