Antelope Island is situated within the Great Salt Lake, Utah, United States. With an area of 42 square miles, this island lies in the south-eastern portion of the lake, near Salt Lake City and Davis County, and becomes a peninsula when the lake is at extremely low levels. This undeniably exquisite island has an absolutely divine beauty which never fails to impress the tourists. It is one of those places which always manages to leave an indelible impression on people’s mind. Be it the serenity that surrounds this place or the vast variety of animals that inhabit this place, this is one island you just can’t afford to miss.
The entire Antelope Island is contained in the Utah state park. It houses populations of pronghorn, bighorn sheep, American bison, porcupine, badger, coyote, bobcat, and millions of waterfowl. Because of its natural scenic beauty and wide range of wildlife, people have called for converting the Utah state park into a National Park. Antelope Island is surrounded by the Great Salt Lake, which has 25% of salt content and hence is unable to support fish but the lake does support Brine Shrimp. The scenic beauty or wide range of fauna is however not the only reason to visit the island. Besides being a treat to the eye, this island also obliges the adventurous side of a person.
Antelope Island is a treat for bikers, hikers and horseback riders. With about 20 miles of trail and beautiful scenery around you, this is going to be one experience you’ll remember for a long time to come. What’s more? There is not just one particular trail that you need to go on, but quite a variety to choose from. The Lakeside Trail is an out and back trail where you can enjoy beautiful views of the lake and the mountains. Extending for about 9 kilometres, this is an easy hike requiring about two and a half hours. The White Rock Loop trail is a 12 kilometre trail, and you must keep 4-5 hours in case you decide to hike. About a mile in, the trail leads to Beacon Knob which you can climb on. Another interesting hike is the Frary peak hike which extends for about 10.9 kilometres. The journey is a little hard but the scenery will surely take your breath away. The Sentry Peak trail was opened a few years back. The trip is about 10.5 kilometres and though it is relatively unexplored, the trail will definitely provide you with some gorgeous views of the Great Salt Lake. There are several other trails which are waiting to be explored, all you need is a map and a water bottle. There are several trail running competitions held each year for distances upto a 100 kilometres.
Another activity that interests people while on this island is bird watching. The state park offers unique birding venues and more than 44 square mile of habitat to explore. There are two major birding hotspots on Antelope Island: the causeway and Fielding Garr Ranch. The causeway connects the island to the mainland near Layton and offers splendid opportunities for viewing gulls, shorebirds and waterfowl. Fielding Garr offers the opportunity to view agricultural fields, scrub woods and a small wetlands area and is situated 11 miles south of the park’s visitor center. Collected, these two habitats attract not only the island’s resident species, but also a range of migratory songbirds. About 250 bird species have been found in the Antelope Island including burrowing owls, white-faced ibis, American avocets, chukars, loggerhead shrikes, western tanagers, black-necked stilts and a wide range of waterfowl, migratory warblers, sparrows and thrushes. Bird watchers are advised to carry spotting scopes especially on the causeway. Bird watching is easy on the island because of detailed trail maps and bird checklists that are provided, interpretive signs that have been put up at key areas in order to give a good idea of orientation. However, annual events sometimes draw crowds that may disrupt birding and birding is relatively scarce between key island hotspots. About 6-8 hours are suggested to enjoy bird watching.
The annual balloon and kite show, held around Labour Day is another fun event that attracts thousands of tourists. This show includes hot balloons, musical performances as well as various other competitions and has become a huge source of tourist attraction over the years.
Besides these, there are various other picnic spots that are waiting to be discovered. Whenever, you decide to visit the Antelope Island keep a few days aside to enjoy the beauty and adventures of this place. You can see the wide range of fauna that exists in the island, spot birds, roam around, enjoy the kite and balloon show, camp, hike, ride on horsebacks. However one thing that should be kept in mind is that fresh water is not so readily available, so it is advisable to carry your own water when you decide to venture out and explore the island. Applying sunscreen is another inside tip that will help you a lot once you get back. So, go out, enjoy and explore the sheer beauty and adventure of the Antelope Island. This one cannot be missed!