Yesterday, Blane, his daughter Esmé, her friend DJ and I took a picnic to Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake. After living in Salt Lake for 10 years, I had never been to Antelope Island, and most people here would say that I’m probably not missing much. I have to argue that point. It was a perfectly extraordinary experience, and a much needed getaway from the chaos of uprooting our lives in preparation for moving to New York City.
There is a causeway across the lake from Syracuse, Utah, to Antelope Island. I’ve heard that it is a seven-mile drive, but it didn’t seem that long. Being a state park, there is an entrance fee ($9.00 per vehicle). My initial reaction to the fee, considering what I had heard, was that it was a bit steep. Now, though, it was well worth the price!!
Our first stop was the visitor’s center. While I’m sure there is some great information for a history or geology buff, it didn’t seem so worthwhile for us (other than as a potty break). We spent a few minutes there looking around, then moved on. We drove around the north-east end of the island a bit, past the beaches. After a bit, we decided to have our picnic on the beach by a wetland marsh. It was a beautiful setting, and a very relaxing lunch.
The most amazing aspect of this part of the island is that there are very little signs of civilization anywhere. The beaches look out across the lake towards the west desert and salt flats. There are no cities anywhere nearby in that direction. If you just sit quietly and listen, all you can hear is the wind, birds chirping and insects buzzing. You can even hear the marsh grasses brushing against each other in the breeze. It’s incredibly peaceful!
After lunch, we did a little wading in the Great Salt Lake. Again, after ten years in the area, I had never been in the Great Salt Lake. We had some fun skipping rocks and watching the tiny brine shrimp (a.k.a. “sea monkeys”) swimming around our feet.
Later we drove down the west shoreline road. Even though you can see the cities of the Wasatch Front across the lake on this side, it is still incredibly peaceful. We were pleasantly surprised to see a family of quail crossing the road, some jack rabbits, even a few antelope grazing. Then we came around a bend in the road and were greeted by huge herds of buffalo on either side of the road.
As we drove through, we stopped in the middle of them and just watched. They seem to be quite used to people driving through, and didn’t seem too disturbed by us being there. It was a great opportunity for some beautiful pictures!
At the end of the east shoreline road is the Garr Ranch, established in 1848. I found it hard to imagine just how amazing it would have been to live there. It was a small bastion of civilization and history in this untouched landscape, and a nice setting for some family pictures.
As we drove back up the shoreline, past the buffalo again, the setting sun brought out the rich colors of the landscape. We got a beautiful shot with the colors of the island, and Salt Lake City in the distant background.
Had I known that Antelope Island was such a rich experience, I would have been there a long time ago, and much more frequently. For anyone in the area, as well as those visiting the Salt Lake area, I highly recommend it. It’s a wonderful getaway, especially in the springtime when it’s not too hot (the weather was perfect yesterday). Trips like that fill me with awe and wonder at the magnificent world we have, and the urgency of preserving it for future generations.