In the 19th century, settlers grazed sheep and horses on Antelope Island, ferrying them back and forth from the mainland across the waters of the Great Salt Lake. Today, the park is the most developed and scenic spot in which to experience the Great Salt Lake. Hiking and biking trails crisscross the island, and the lack of cover—cottonwood trees provide some of the only shade—gives the place a wide-open feeling and makes for some blistering hot days. You can go saltwater
bathing at several beach areas. Since the salinity level of the lake is always greater than that of the ocean, the water is extremely buoyant (and briny smelling)—simply sit down in the water and bob to the surface like a rubber duck. Hot showers at the marina remove the chill and the salt afterward.
The island has historic sites, as well as desert wildlife and birds in their natural habitat. The island's most popular inhabitants are the members of a herd of more than 500 bison descended from 12 brought here in 1893. Each October at the Buffalo Roundup more than 250 volunteers on horseback round up the free-roaming animals and herd them to the island's north end to be counted. The island's Fielding-Garr House, built in 1848 and now owned by the state, was the oldest continuously inhabited home in Utah until the last resident moved out in 1981. The house displays assorted ranching artifacts, and guided horseback riding is available from the stables next to the house. Be sure to check out the modern visitor center, and sample a bison burger at the stand that overlooks the lake to the north. If you're lucky, you'll hear coyotes howling in the distance. Access to the island is via a 7½-mile causeway.