1 Best Sight in Antelope Island State Park, Side Trips from Salt Lake City

Antelope Island State Park

Fodor's choice

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 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, the most popular being Bridger Bay, which has a changing room with hot showers. Since the salinity level of the lake is always greater than that of the ocean, the water is extremely buoyant (and briny smelling). Faced with several years of drought, as of fall 2022 the lake was at its lowest water level since the 1840s, leading to even higher salinity and threatening the viability of the lake's ecosystem. 

The island has historic sites, as well as desert wildlife and birds in their natural habitat. The most popular inhabitants are the members of a herd of between 500 and 700 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, which is reached from I–15 about a 45-minute drive north of Salt Lake City.