Utah has 44 state parks as diverse as Utah’s natural landscapes. Visits to the state parks can include an Anasazi Village, coral pink sand dunes, lakes, rivers, canyons, and the Territorial Statehouse in Fillmore. There is even a state park protecting a Utah island—Antelope Island State Park.
The largest island in the Great Salt Lake, Antelope Island is populated with bison, pronghorn antelope, mule deer, bighorn sheep, coyotes, bobcats, badgers and bird of prey. These populations are sustained by freshwater springs, wildlife and vegetation.
There are many ways for people to enjoy the island, including non-motorized trails for horseback riding, hiking and bicycling. Those interested in a swim in the salty lake will find indoor/outdoor shower facilities, a pavilion, picnic areas and restrooms at Bridger Bay. Then there is camping.
There are four campground sites: Bridger Bay, White Rock Bay, Ladyfinger and Lakeside. The sites don’t offer water or electricity, but most have picnic tables, fire pits and vault toilets (outhouses).
A recent visit to White Rock Bay was camping as we’ve never experienced it. We arrived at dusk with still enough light left to set up camp. Temperatures that started out scorching quickly cooled when the sun went down. We had a view of the bay lined with namesake white craggy rocks. Across the water we could make out the lights of a town whose name we guessed at all night.
One thing to be prepared for on the island, especially in the spring, is the abundance of flying insects. We were warned and felt prepared, and for the most part we were. We lit two citronella candles on the picnic tables and enjoyed a bug-free dinner and stargazing experience. With no electric lights close by, we could see stars usually blocked by city lights.
We finally got a taste of just how many bugs were waiting for us when a member of our group left the citronella circle to change her daughter’s diaper. We soon heard her calling for help and ran to see what happened. Away from the tables, she and the baby were inundated with flying no-see-ums. The flying menaces covered mom and baby and flew in the open doors of their van. Yes, there are bugs on Antelope Island. Millions. Billions. Maybe even zillions of them.
The next day we visited Bridger Bay and took a walk in the lake, some of us going out farther than others. While walking to the beach, a new type of fly greeted us; the brine fly. At first we thought the sand was moving as we got close to the water, but we soon realized it was a moving carpet of brine flies. But they stop at the water’s edge, so being in the water keeps you bug-free and bite-free.
The Antelope Island State Park also boasts a full service grill, guided horseback rides, boat rentals, and cruises. The Visitor’s Center has educational displays and a gift shop. The Fielding Garr Ranch, a preserved ranch from 1848, allows visitors to experience early pioneer life.
A camping trip to Antelope Island is an experience you won’t forget. Bring lots of citronella.
Visit the state park website for more information about reserving campsites.