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Antelope Island State Park

Google Map Coordinates: Latitude: 40.958061 / Longitude: -112.207222

Antelope Island State Park has two main campgrounds. Bridger Bay is the individual overnight campground and has 26 primitive campsites include picnic tables, fire pits/ grills, and vault toilets. There is no water, electricity, or shade in the campground. Wheelchair accessible campsites are available by reservation. Two vehicles and up to eight people and the tents are allowed per campsites. There is a free for additional vehicles or recreational equipment. Horses are not allowed.

White Rock Group campgrounds has 12 primitive campsites available by reservation for groups up to 70. Picnic tables, fire pits, and charcoal grills are located at each site. Vault toilets are available. No water or electricity is available in the campground. Horse are allowed.

Facilities include a marina, beach picnic area and primitive camping areas. RVs are welcome but there are no hookups. The campgrounds have vault toilets. Water is available at the Bridger Bay Beach area on the sides of the beach buildings. Showers are also available at the beach area.

Please be aware that, during the month of May and part of June (usually until the weather reaches 90 degrees), Antelope Island has biting gnats (or "no see'ums"). Wear a hat or light hoodie and protect your face and neck with bugspray. Insects on the causeway are midges that don't bite, and brine flies along the lake's edge are harmless.

Park Hours:
May through September - 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
October - 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
November through February - 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
March - 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
April - 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Visitor Center and Fielding Garr Ranch Hours:
April 15 to September 14 - 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
September 15 to April 14 - 9a.m. to 5 p.m.

Holiday Closures: Thanksgiving and Christmas

Day Visits:
$9 day use per vehicle (includes Davis County causeway fee)
$3 cyclists and pedestrians

Overnight Camping:
Bridger Bay Campground: $13

Group Day Use:
White Rock Bay Group Area: (sites 1-5): $2 per person (25 person min - 150 max) (reserve through park only)
White Rock Bay Group Area: (sites 6-12): $2 per person (25 person min - 75 max) (reserve through park only)
(site #6 has corral and water trough for horses)

Group Overnight Camping:
White Rock Bay Group Campground: (sites 1-5): $3 per person (25 person min - 150 max) (reserve through park only)
White Rock Bay Group Campground: (sites 6-12): $3 per person (25 person min - 75 max) (reserve through park only)
(site #6 has corral and water trough for horses)

Island Buffalo Grill will be providing food services and a gift shop at the Bridger Bay Beach indoor pavilion building. Phone: 801-528-8080 or 801-499-9291

Location – Directions

Antelope Island State Park
4528 West 1700 South
Syracuse, UT 84075
(801) 773-2941

Take Exit 332 off Interstate 15, then drive west on Antelope Drive for 7 miles to the park entrance.

Points of Interest

Perhaps the most alluring feature of Antelope Island is its unique array of wildlife. The island is most famous for its large bison population. The herd fluctuates between 550 and 700, making it one of the largest publicly owned bison herds in the nation. The Antelope Island bison herd is also recognized as one of the oldest in the country and possesses unique genetic characteristics making it of interest to breeders.

Prior to European settlement, biologists estimate between 50 to 60 million bison roamed the continent. By the 1890s, the population had been decimated, and it is believed only 800 remained. Conservationists, faced with the eminent extinction of bison, began to take steps to save the species. Two Utahns, William Glassman and John Dooly, were instrumental in this effort. They brought bison to Antelope Island in 1893. The bison herd is managed to maintain a stock population of 550. The bison calve primarily from March through May, and new calves balloon the population to more than 700. Studies indicate that this is near the maximum population of bison that the island can support without overgrazing the grasslands. Careful management allows a large herd to thrive while maintaining forage and nesting cover for other wildlife species.

The bison roundup, which occurs the end of October, is one of the great fall spectacles of northern Utah. The bison are driven to corrals on the north end of the island by a combination of volunteer horsemen and helicopters. Here they are allowed to rest for four days before being worked through the corrals, vaccinated and checked for general health the first week in November. The excess animals are sold at auction and a small number designated for the annual bison hunt conducted by the Division of Wildlife Resources in December. Other mammals found on the island include, mule deer, pronghorn antelope, coyotes, bobcats, badgers, porcupines, jackrabbits and several species of rodents.

Antelope Island and the Great Salt Lake attract numerous migrating and nesting birds. Along the shoreline avocets, black-necked stilts, willets and sanderlings can be observed. The island grasslands provide habitat for long-billed curlews, burrowing owls, chuckars and several species of raptors. The Great Salt Lake attracts incredible numbers of eared grebes, Wilson's phalaropes and California gulls. The Great Salt Lake is one of the most important natural features in the country for migrating birds.

The birds are drawn here to take advantage of the large number of brine flies and brine shrimp associated with the lake. One of the most interesting sights on the island is to watch these beautiful birds gorge on brine flies along the shore. The combination of abundant large mammals located along-side of rich salt marshes provides Antelope Island with a truly unique blend of wildlife.

PRONGHORN RETURN TO ANTELOPE ISLAND

In 1845 John C. Fremont and Kit Carson made the first European exploration of Antelope Island. They shot two antelope and Fremont wrote "in grateful supply of the meat they furnished, I gave their name to the island." By the 1930's the island's namesake had disappeared from Antelope Island. In 1993 a cooperative effort between the Utah divisions of Wildlife Resources and the State Parks and Recreation resulted in the reintroduction of 24 pronghorn antelope. By the 1995 fawning season the population had nearly doubled in size. It is hoped that predation from coyotes, bobcats, and eagles will act as population control for the pronghorn on the island. Long term research by Weber State University monitors the population, helps determine critical habitat and studies behavioral traits of the species.

FIELDING GARR RANCH

Fielding Garr was quick to recognize Antelope Island's potential as livestock range. He began construction of a ranch house in 1848. Garr was a skilled mason and fashioned the sun-dried adobe bricks used to build the home out of materials found on the island. The ranch house is distinctive for two reasons; it is the oldest continually inhabited anglo-built home in the state of Utah (from 1848 to 1981 when the island became a state park); and second, it is the oldest anglo-built house in Utah still on its original foundation. The Fielding Garr Ranch is opened to the public on select weekends from March until October. Check with the Park for dates.

ANTELOPE ISLAND HISTORY

John C. Fremont and Kit Carson made the first known visit by people of European descent to Antelope Island in 1845. They killed several antelope on the island thus giving Antelope Island its name.

Fielding Garr established permanent residency on the island in 1848. He not only tended his own herds, but those of other stockmen as well. In 1849 Brigham Young asked Garr to manage the LDS Church's Tithing Herd, which was kept on the island until 1871. The Tithing Herd was utilized by the Perpetual Emigration Fund which was established to help needy Mormon converts immigrate to Utah. Recipients would reimburse the fund when circumstances would allow them to do so. Reimbursement was made in the form of livestock, which was considered better than cash. During this time the LDS Church also invested thousands of dollars in valuable stallions and brood mares which were turned loose on the island.

Antelope Island was used as a base camp for a government funded survey of the Great Salt Lake by Captain Howard Stansbury during the years of 1849-50. During the 1870's several private homesteads were established, with George and Alice Frary staying the longest. Alice requested to be buried on her island home, and a marker stands to commemorate her grave site.

On February 15, 1893 , twelve head of bison were transported to Antelope Island. John Dooly and George Frary loaded the bison into a small sailboat and nearly capsized as they sailed to the island. The Island Improvement Company owned most of the island from 1884 thru 1972. Cattle and sheep were the company's primary ranching commodity, although buffalo and horses were always on the island. In the 1930's , Antelope Island was the largest private sheep shearing operation west of the Mississippi. Recognizing the recreation potential of the island, the north 2,000 acres were acquired by the state in 1969. In 1981 the state purchased most of the rest of the island thus preserving it as a state park for all the people to enjoy.

GREAT SALT LAKE

The Great Salt Lake is the largest natural lake west of the Mississippi River. At the current level the Great Salt Lake is 75 miles long and about 35 miles wide. Located in several wide flat basins, a slight rise in water lever expands the surface area of the lake considerably. The first scientific measurements were taken in 1849 and since then the lake level has varied by 20 feet, shifting the shoreline in some places as much as 15 miles.

Great Salt Lake is salty because it does not have an outlet. Tributary rivers are constantly bringing in small amounts of salt dissolved in their fresh water flow. Once in the Great Salt Lake much of the water evaporates leaving the salt behind.

Great Salt Lake is the remnant of Lake Bonneville; a great ice age lake that rose dramatically from a small saline lake 30,000 years ago. The most conspicuous reminders of Lake Bonneville are the ancient terraces etched into the landscape along the lakes formers shorelines. The terraces were eroded by wave action and are relatively flat areas which follow a contour line. Look south from Buffalo Point for an outstanding view of Lake Bonneville terraces carved into the island as high as a thousand feet above Great Salt Lake. After the ice age the earth's climate became drier and Lake Bonneville gradually receded to form Great Salt Lake.

Great Salt Lake is too saline to support fish and most other aquatic species. Several types of algae live in the lake. Brine shrimp and brine flies can tolerate the high salt content and feed on the algae. Brine shrimp eggs are harvested commercially and are sold overseas as prawn food. The oft maligned brine flies do not bite or land on people and are the primary food source for many birds that migrate to the lake. For most of the summer brine flies form a ring around the entire shoreline and rarely venture more than a few feet from the water's edge. Biologists have estimated their population to be over one hundred billion.

The ever fluctuating Great Salt Lake has frustrated attempts to develop its shoreline. As a result much of the lake is ringed by extensive wetlands making Great Salt Lake one of the most important resources for migrating and nesting birds.

Great Salt Lake draws people for a variety of recreational experiences and to enjoy what John Muir called "one of the great views on the American Continent". Bridger Bay Beach on the north end of Antelope Island is perhaps the nicest beach on the entire lake. The beach is a two mile long hundred yard wide expanse of white oolitic sand. Oolitic sand is actually formed in the lake and is made up of concentric layers of calcium carbonate (lime). Look closely at the sand, most grains are smooth and perfectly round. Bridger Bay is where many people come to float like a cork for you cannot sink in Great Salt Lake. To lie back and float upon the lake with only the sound of the gulls overhead is a unique experience unlikely to be forgotten.

ANTELOPE ISLAND TRAILS

Our trails are designed to be equally enjoyable for both the beginner and expert trail rider. You can look forward to spectacular views of the Great Salt Lake and surrounding areas. The trails also offer excellent opportunities to view the island's wildlife. The backcountry trail currently consists of 16 miles of double track traveling south from White Rock Bay. The heart of the trail is the 9.2 mile White Rock Bay loop. One of the three spurs off the loop travels to Beacon Knob, which is the highest point on the trail towering 800 feet above the Great Salt Lake.

Split Rock Bay is another spur and consists of a short climb and dramatic descent to a pristine white sandy beach. The Elephant Head spur leads to a dramatic overlook. Three shorter trails exist on the north end of the island. The longest is the Lakeside Trail at three miles one way. The trail follows the shoreline around Buffalo point and connects White Rock Bay to Bridger Bay.

The Buffalo Point Trail is extremely popular and consists of a .5 mile hike ascending 300 feet from the Buffalo Point overlook/parking area. The visitor is greeted with a fantastic 360 degree view on the northern point of the island.

The Ladyfinger Point Trail is a .25 mile long hike winding across a rocky point to overlook both Egg Island and Bridger Bay. All three of these scenic trails offer excellent opportunities to view the wildlife and geology of Antelope Island.

Utah State Parks and Recreation has established a number of guidelines designed to protect the island's wildlife and unique resources, yet still allow trail access. Please help us protect the island by observing all guidelines. A volunteer trail patrol has been organized for the safety of trail users and to help us protect the islands backcountry. If you are interested in becoming part of this effort, please contact a ranger.