The Great Salt Lake is eight times saltier than the ocean and second only to the Dead Sea in salinity. What makes it so briny? There's no outlet to the ocean, so salts and other minerals carried by rivers and streams become concentrated in this enormous evaporation pond. Ready access to this wonder is possible at Great Salt Lake State Park, 16 miles west of Salt Lake City, on the lake's south shore.
The fickle nature of the Great Salt Lake is evident here. From the
marina you will see a large, Moorish-style pavilion to the north. This pavilion was built to re-create the glory days of the lake from the 1890s to the 1950s, when first the train, then automobiles, brought thousands of people here for entertainment. Floating in the lake was the biggest draw, but ballroom dancing and an amusement park made for a day's recreation. In addition, three resorts made this a popular place, despite varying lake levels. It was the decline of ballroom dancing together with a severe drop in the lake level that spelled the end of the pavilion's run in the 1960s. In 1981 the present pavilion, souvenir shop, and a dance floor were built. Two years later record flooding made an island of the pavilion. It sits on dry land today, but its current owners have been unable to re-create its former stature.
The state park used to manage the beaches north of the pavilion, but the lake is too shallow here for convenient floating. The picnic beaches on Antelope Island State Park are the best places to float. If you can't take the time to get to Antelope Island, which is 25 miles north of Salt Lake City, however, you can walk down the boat ramp at the Great Salt Lake State Marina and stick your legs in the water to experience the unique sensation of floating on water that won't let you sink. Your feet will bob to the surface, and you will see tiny orange brine shrimp floating with you. You can also rent boats and stand-up paddleboards here. Shower off at the marina.
Frontage Rd., 2 mi east of I–80 Exit 104, Magna, Utah, 84044, USA
Mar 6, 2013
As a visitor, it's just one of those things that you have to see when you're in Utah. The Great Salt Lake has a lot of interesting history and science to it, but there isn't much to see. Some will say it's a beautiful sight, and others will say that it's bland and boring. Visiting the Lake on your own will often leave people feeling disappointed because there's nothing to do for visitors but look, and it looks like just a lake. But when you learn
about the history and science of the Lake, it's actually very interesting. If you drive yourself, there are two access points: Salt Lake State Marina, which is about 20 minute drive from downtown and a $2 entrance fee, with very little visitor information present; there are local sightseeing bus companies that run daily trips or tours and depending on the guide, it can be very enjoyable [www.toursofutah.com or www.saltlakecitytours.org] or Antelope Island, which is a 1 hour drive from downtown and a $9 entrance fee, and there is a visitors center. Antelope Island is a long drive from downtown and visitors have mixed things to say about it. Many complain about the smell (sulfur smell) and the brine flies (very numerous in the warmer months).
Oct 13, 2008
Very interesting -- an extremely eccentric lake loaded with brine shrimp, strange beach material, and a slightly funky smell. It's apparently almost impossible to drown in this lake, as it's so salty that you can't sink in it. Strange but fascinating. Best seen via tour, as they give lots of info about the place. Not accessible via public transport.