A remnant of an ancient lake, the Great Salt Lake is the largest natural lake west of the Mississippi River and the saltiest body of water in the Western Hemisphere. A visit to the Great Salt Lake can be one of the most interesting things to do in Salt Lake City.
Many locals will tell you not to go; they'll mention the smell and the bugs. Most of the time, neither of those things will be a problem. The two public access points to the Great Salt Lake are the Great Salt Lake State Park Marina, located about 15 minutes west of downtown Salt Lake City, off of Interstate 80; the other is Antelope Island. Which should you go to? The Great Salt Lake Marina is much closer, with the smell and bugs being much less of an issue; though there isn't much to do, making it very important to have an experienced guide to explain why the Great Salt Lake is unique and speak about the interesting facts and stories that you simply won't discover if you go on your own. This is a major reason why many locals think that visiting the Great Salt Lake isn't worth your time as a tourist in Salt Lake City.
And what about Antelope Island? It's absolutely not a quick 2-3 hour trip. You'll need to plan on 4-6 hours to visit Antelope Island because it is a one hour drive from Salt Lake City, each way, and you'll easliy spend over an hour driving around to various attractions on the island, like the Antelope Island State Park Visitor's Center and Fielding Garr Ranch, located very far apart. Antelope Island is over 15 miles in length and the speed limit on the island is 25 mph. You will also make frequent stops as you spot wildlife along the way, as well as multiple scenic landscape photo points. Aside from the long drive, Antelope Island is also known to have more bugs than Great Salt Lake Marina. Should you visit in the spring, the island is enshrouded in a cloud of biting gnats. In the summer they dissipate, though you will still encounter bugs along the shoreline. The offensive smell locals refer to is hydrogen sulfide that is released by bacteria on the shores of the Great Salt Lake, formed from decaying algae and organic waste. The smell varies depending on the time of year, weather conditions that week, and even the time of day. It will be very strong on the causeway leading you to the island but dissipates once you're on the island. Most visitors to Antelope Island are there to see the wildlife, mainly the pronghorn and bison, rather than the Great Salt Lake.
The best way to experience the Great Salt Lake is with a talented tour guide. Visiting the lake with no tour guide, or the wrong tour guide, can often leave visitors feeling disappointed. City Sights truly does have the best tour guides and the best tour experience for visiting the Great Salt Lake. Join us on our daily 2:30pm Great Salt Lake Tour!