Antelope Island State Park is an easy day trip about 40 miles north of Salt Lake City, Utah. Visitors to the largest island in Great Salt Lake can enjoy a wide variety of year-round activities. No matter which way you look from the island, you can see spectacular views such as the Great Salt Lake, the Wasatch Mountains, Salt Lake City skyline and benches of the pre-historic Lake Bonneville.
My family took advantage of a warm Saturday in April to drive into Antelope Island State Park. It is early spring in Utah, and we could tell the park’s grass and trees were just beginning to turn green. Check out my list of 8 Fun Things To Do with Your Family at Antelope Island State Park.
TIP: Bring your binoculars, spotting scopes and cameras because there is a LOT to see!
1. See Wildlife. Antelope Island is home to bison herds, bighorn sheep, mule deer, pronghorn antelope, bobcats, jackrabbits and other desert animals.
2. Birding. The wetlands surrounding Great Salt Lake are one of the most important resources in North America for migratory and nesting birds. Six to nine million migratory birds pass through the Pacific Flyway each year. The lake and its marshes provide resting, nesting and staging areas for 250 bird species every year!
We saw many groups of bison roaming along both sides of the park road.
Twelve bison were introduced to the island in 1893. Today, the size of the Antelope Island bison herd ranges from 550 to 700 animals. We were able to watch the bison and take a lot of bison photos. We also saw antelope, but they were too far away to get a decent close-up picture.
3. Explore backcountry trails. You are allowed to Hike, Mountain Bike, or Horseback Ride on the park’s trail system. Trails vary in length and difficulty. No water is available along the trails. Plan ahead and be prepared with water bottles and anything other hiking essentials you may need.
4. Star-gazing. Enjoy awesome views of the spectacular night skies. If you have a telescope, bring it.
5. Camping…if you’re cool with primitive campsites (no electricity, no water, and pit toilets only.)
TIP: Watch out for various insects that may bug you (pun intended) during the warm months: Biting gnats, midges, mosquitoes and brine flies.
We weren’t bothered by any insects on the day we spent at Antelope Island, but we did see hundreds of swarms of flies in the area – mainly near the edges of the lake bed. I have heard other people say that the flies can be really thick depending on the time of year you visit.
6. Go for a swim in a salty lake. The best place to take float or swim in the saline waters of the Great Salt Lake is from Bridger Bay Beach. Kayak rentals are available. The Great Salt Lake is so salty that no fish and most aquatic plants can live in it. The brine shrimp, brine flies and algae that live in the lake are a primary food attraction for millions of migrating birds.
7. Spend the day at the beach. The Bridger Bay day-use area has a sandy beach, indoor/outdoor showers, pavilion, picnic areas and modern restrooms.
8. Visit a historic ranch. Take a self-guided tour at the Fielding Garr Ranch buildings and exhibits.
Antelope Island State Park offers guided hikes, Junior Ranger programs, bird walks, astronomy programs and many other various special events throughout the year. The Visitor Center is open year round. For more information, visit the park website at antelopeisland.utah.gov.