2013 Gratitude Project – Travel:Antelope Island
& My First Travel Writing ExperienceThis month will be a celebration of travel. I am so grateful for the many opportunities I’ve had over my nearly thirty years to explore the world. Click here to read about my 2013 November Gratitude Project – Travel
I wrote this as a student at BYU for the student newspaper “The Daily Universe.” It took a bit of convincing to get my editor to let me do a series of day trip articles for students. This is one of a few I did that semester and my first real travel writing experience. It was published on Sept. 10, 2008.
Bison crossing signs line the side of the road, giving the largest animals on the Great Salt Lake the right of way. The lake’s largest residents and the island they live on provide a perfect venue for the adventurous student who wants to have a truly unique Utah experience, just an hour and a half away from campus at Antelope Island State Park.
The oldest ranch in Utah, Fielding Garr Ranch, is located at the south end of the island overlooking Salt Lake City. Thousands of migrating birds stop at the island on their way to and from summer and winter nesting grounds.
The island has many options for those interested in hiking, biking or other outdoor recreation. There are over 10 trails ranging in difficulty and length, depending on experience level and available time.
One trail leads a hiker up the spine of the island to Frary Peak, the highest point on the island. Another trail winds around the western side, providing grand views of the lake.
Each trail provides ample opportunities to experience the wildlife of the island, such as a coyote looking out of the ‘sagebrush or small lizards that seem to be following on the side of the trail during a hike.
Bikers can ride past grazing animals on trails available for mountain biking and over 15 miles of roadways.
A beach is also available for visitors who want to experience the buoyancy of the highly concentrated salt water. The beach may not meet the standards set by the beaches of Southern California or Hawaii, but it offers a truly unique experience in the clear, shallow water of “America’s Dead Sea.”
Visitors may experience dry skin or a stinging sensation because of the high salt content, which just enhances the overall experience. Showers are offered to visitors who want to rinse off, after swimming in the lake.
Early pioneers and explorers found that life on the island was supported by a series of fresh water springs. Fielding Garr set up a ranch at the most consistent spring in response to a call from Brigham Young to set up a tithing ranch on the island. He settled there just one year after the pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley.
The ranch operated as a tithing facility until the 1870s and then as a private ranch until the 1970s. The original ranch house and buildings still stand, surrounded by shade trees, and are open for visitors to explore.
The island visitors’ center and ranch are open year round except for Thanksgiving and Christmas Days.
Antelope Island also houses a state marina and the Buffalo Point Outdoor Bistro. The bistro serves bison burgers and sits on a bluff overlooking the island and lake.
Horseback riding is available as well as scenic or dinner cruises on the lake and ranger led walks and talks.
I visited Antelope Island twice while living in BYU and wish I had gone more. The first time was for this article with a friend. We spent most of the morning hiking, exploring the ranch and eating bison burgers. The second time I went with my dad and hiked most of the way to Frary Peak. Unfortunately, we ran out of time and had to turn back to make it on-time for an appointment.
I am grateful for my editor who let me do what I really wanted to do. I am grateful she published my stories. She also taught me a lot about writing and enjoying life. I’ll share a couple of my other day-trip adventures over the next couple of days.