Antelope Island State Park is the largest island in the Great Salt Lake, measuring 15 miles long and about 4.5 miles wide. As soon as you drive across the causeway, you leave the bustle of suburbia and city behind and gain great views of Utah’s Wasatch Mountains and wildlife. It feels very peaceful. Named for the pronghorns Kit Carson and John Fremont saw when they explored Antelope Island in 1845, you’ll also find a large free-roaming bison herd, bighorn sheep, mule deer, coyote, and more than 250 species of birds. Wildlife viewing opportunities vary with the season, so be sure to first stop at the Visitor Center for information.
The Great Salt Lake is the largest natural lake west of the Mississippi River, and is a remnant of a prehistoric lake that covered more than 20,000 square miles during the Ice Age. Some of the oldest rocks found anywhere on earth are right here on Antelope Island. Some are 2.7 billion years old, which even trumps those found at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
Artifacts uncovered on Antelope Island reveal that Native Americans inhabited the area more than 6,000 years ago. The first Anglo family to settle here was cattle rancher Fielding Garr and his seven children (Mrs. Garr had passed away prior to the family’s move to Utah). The Fielding Garr Ranch House is located on the southeast side of the island and is open for tours. It is the oldest continually inhabited Anglo home in the state of Utah (from 1848 to 1981 when the island became a state park), and is the oldest Anglo built house in Utah still on its original foundation.
With salinity levels between four and 28 percent, there’s no fish to catch in the Great Salt Lake, but it’s still a picturesque place to canoe or kayak. Boat slips are available for rent at Antelope Island Marina if you are towing something with a motor and plan to stay a few days. Horseback riding is available, and about a dozen hiking trails of varying lengths provide opportunities to stretch your legs. Be sure to check out the view from 6,596-foot Frary Peak, the island’s highest point.
In the spring and summer, mosquitoes can sometimes be a real nuisance on all 28,022 acres of Antelope Island, so be sure to pack plenty of repellent!
IF YOU GO:
Antelope Island State Park is located approximately 41 miles north of Salt Lake City, Utah. Take Exit 332 off Interstate 15, then drive west on Antelope Drive to the park entrance gate.
Day Visits: $9 Day-Use per vehicle, which includes Davis County causeway fee
Camping at Bridger Bay Campground: $13, no water or hook-ups.
July – Mid-September – 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Mid-September – October 1 – 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
October 2 – Mid-November – 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Mid-November – February – 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
March 1 – May 1 – 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
May 2 – June – 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Visitor Center and Fielding Garr Ranch Hours:
May 15 to September 15 – 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
September 16 to May 14 – 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas.
In addition to writing about her travels, Denise Seith is also a treasure hunter and loves a good latté. She and her husband own an online gold prospecting and metal detecting equipment store found at GoldRushTradingPost.com