The Salt Lake Scene

Bring a mason jar to Antelope Island. Just trust me on this one.

“Do you go to the beach of the Great Salt Lake a lot in the summer?” That’s one of the first questions I generally get asked by people who aren’t familiar with Utah. The answer is no, at least not unless I’m going to Antelope Island. And as a matter of fact, I went very recently with some friends who have lived in Utah for years, yet had never even dipped their toes in the lake our beloved city was named after.

[caption id="attachment_3989" align="alignleft" width="245" caption="One of 600 American bison that live on Antelope Island."][/caption]

Antelope Island is the largest of the Great Salt Lake’s nine islands, and can be reached by car via a causeway that connects the island to Layton, Utah. This is by far the best place to access the Great Salt Lake (from Salt Lake City, at least) for swimming or sailing. There are a few beaches, several campgrounds and lots of hiking trails. It’s also a fantastic place to picnic, watch the sunset, or see some American bison. Your odds of seeing bison are very good too, since there are nearly 600 living on the island.

Here are a few tips when it comes to visiting Antelope Island:

The Great Salt Lake has an average of 12% salinity, which is much higher than the ocean. There are fresh water showers available at most of the beaches. Use them after swimming or even wading!  Otherwise you’ll literally have white salt marks on your body later if you don’t rinse off before hopping back in the car.

The average depth of the Great Salt Lake is 20 feet. You heard me right -- 20 feet. The reason it’s good to keep that in mind is with a lake this shallow it’s going to take you a long time to wade much deeper than your waist.  So what do you do for fun with water this shallow? Catch brine shrimp (a.k.a. sea monkeys)!  No joke.

[caption id="attachment_3990" align="alignleft" width="184" caption="See how amused my friends are with my sneaky brine shrimp trick? They're so jealous that they're taking photos of it."][/caption]

Bring a clear mason jar with you when you go to the Great Salt Lake. These little guys are so small it’s difficult to see them from the surface. But dip that jar in the water, fill it up and take a peek inside. You’ll be surprised when you realize how many brine shrimp made it in there and are frantically swimming around. We used to do this on field trips back in elementary school, and every kid who brought a jar had an absolute blast. Now, almost 20 years later, my friends thought I was crazy when I insisted on bringing a mason jar. But once I pulled it out of the water and they saw those little sea monkeys swimming around like crazy, I think they wished they’d brought a jar too.