Home » 2001 Cross Country Road Trip

Antelope Island State Park, UT

Monday, July 16, 2001 - 11:00am by Lolo
200 miles and 4.5 hours from our last stop - 1 night stay


Antelope Island has got to be one of the strangest places I've ever been to. We arrived late in the afternoon, hot and tired from a long day of driving. The campground, at which I had made reservations months earlier, was treeless, barren and totally deserted, once again making my paranoia about making reservations seem foolish. The views from our campsite were wonderful. We were perched on a beach less than 50 yards from the deceptively inviting aquamarine waters of the Great Salt Lake.

Lolo and boys at Great Salt LakeLolo and boys at Great Salt LakeAnxious to touch the lake, we ran down to the beach. As we approached, the black sand at the water's edge, it began to move, giving us quite a start. It wasn't sand at all, but a giant mass of black brine flies. Yuch! We soon found that we could herd them into black clouds with the mere wave of our arms, which entertained us for quite some time. This was great! I love the unique experiences that travel provides us--we would never be doing this back in New Jersey.

The flies and the strong, unpleasant smell of the lake made us decide to save our obligatory swim in the lake for the next day. Instead we took a bike ride over to the Buffalo Corral to see some buffalo. There is actually an entire herd of bison and a lot more wildlife, such as bighorn sheep and bobcats, that live on the remote southern end of the island.

The next morning while the kids lounged around the RV, Herb and I took a very interesting bike ride on the Lakeside Trail, which is a pretty rough and rocky mountain bike trail along the shores of the lake. There were several places where there were so many boulders that we had to get off and walk the bikes. The views were spectacular and there wasn't another soul in sight--just the way we like it.

Before it got too hot, we got the kids out on their bikes and rode the 3 miles from the campground to the Visitor Center, which had a very nice natural history museum. Besides the usual souvenir hat pin purchase, the kids convinced us to buy some brine shrimp so that we could bring a little bit of the Salt Lake back home with us. I wasn't so sure I really wanted to bring a little bit back with us.

Well, we had put it off long enough, but now it was time to take the plunge. We found a very nice swimming beach along Bridger Bay, fully equipped with numerous freshwater showers. We walked out into the lake for what seemed like ½ a mile, but still the water was only up to our knees. It just wasn't getting any deeper. Finally, we did it. We just laid back and floated, and yes it was more buoyant than anything I had ever experienced. Having done what we had to do, we sat on the beach and let the hot sun dry us off--it took only about 5 minutes--leaving our bodies completely covered with a white film of salt. A quick rinse in the freshwater showers restored our normal color.

Although we had another night reserved on Antelope Island, we decided to move on. It was just too beastly hot and the lake, although it looked very tempting and refreshing, just wasn't very pleasant. We definitely don't regret coming here, however--it was very unique and actually quite beautiful. Antelope Island and the Great Salt Lake is something that everyone should do once.


Antelope Island, Utah's largest state park, is the biggest of the 10 islands in the Great Salt Lake, measuring twice the size of Manhattan. It is a treeless mound, rising 2,400 feet above the aquamarine waters of the lake, covered with hilly grasslands, sagebrush prairies, and rocky ridges. A 7.2-mile causeway connects the northern part of the island to the mainland. At the end of the causeway is a Visitor Center, which has an excellent natural history museum.

Sunset over the Great Salt LakeSunset over the Great Salt LakeRecreation is confined to the northern end of the island. There are 30 miles of developed dirt road and trails for mountain bikers and hikers. For those wanting to take a dip in the extremely saline waters of the lake (6 to 8 times saltier than the ocean), the most popular swimming beaches are along Bridger Bay, where there is plenty of parking and showers to wash the salt off. A mile or so inland, there is a Buffalo Corral where you can see a small buffalo herd. Other facilities include the Buffalo Point Café, which serves buffalo burgers, and a 13-site primitive campground at Bridger Bay right on the lake.

There is plenty of wildlife on the island--bighorn sheep, coyotes, bobcats, and even a bison herd--especially in the more remote and mountainous southern end of the island. In fact, the island was given its name in 1845 by the explorers John C. Fremont and Kit Carson because of the abundant antelope they found there. The antelopes did disappear from the island in the 1930s, but were reintroduced in 1993 and are thriving today.

lamb60 on July 24, 2010

We visited Antelope Island today and agree with everything you wrote about it. We were not brave enough to swim in the water though........
The place is very strange indeed and I am glad we visited, but would not go back again. Even the bathrooms at the visitor center we weird......concrete and steel doors.

Herb on July 26, 2010

Antelope Island is a place I'm glad we visited, and might even consider another trip back when the temperatures are a little more moderate. Glad you got a chance to see it though and leave a comment.
Safe travels, Herb

Antelope Island State Park location map in "high definition"

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