Sunday, December 31, 2017

Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake

After visiting Hardware Ranch and eating at Maddox Drive-Inn in Brigham City we drove to Syracuse, Utah, and then west over the seven mile long causeway to Antelope Island. Antelope Island is the largest of 10 islands in the Great Salt Lake. It is 42 square miles, 15 miles long at the longest points and 5 miles wide at the widest points. 
It was named by John C. Fremont and Kit Carson, who visited the island in 1845, after a pronghorn antelope they shot on the island for food. Bison were introduced in 1893 and the Antelope Island herd has proved to be a great genetic pool for bison preservation in the U.S.
The Wasatch Front as viewed from Antelope island.
I've been to Antelope Island a number of times, including several times in the last ten years, but I've never seen an antelope there. So this time, as I entered with my two oldest grandgirls, I asked the ranger (it is a State Park) where the best place to see antelope was. I was told they could be seen on the flats on the east side of the island on the drive to Fielding Garr Ranch. 
The eastern shore with the Wasatch Front in the backgrounds. 
Frary Peak, part of the mountainous backbone of the island.
Just past the causeway we turned left and saw some mule deer feeding off the right side of the road. We paused and got some pictures. 

Then we drove for a while and saw some pronghorn antelope off to the left at some distance. We got out and took some photos. Fortunately I had my 500 mm lens, but even with it they appeared quite small. But at least now I've seen antelope on Antelope Island. 
Pronghorn antelope, the Great Salt Lake, and the Wasatch Front toward the back. 

We drove further and saw quite a few different groups of bison. Some of them were a great distance up on the side of the mountain and some were a great distance actually wading through water to a small island off the island. But one group, in particular, was quite near the road and we got some good views. The grass is still quite tall and they keep their heads down grazing. So it is difficult getting good photos with head shots. 

This big, beautiful male, was staring right at us. 
We drove as far as Fielding Garr Ranch where the road ends and turned around and headed back. 

It was quite a day. We saw mule deer in multiple places, wild turkey in multiple places, elk, pronghorn antelope and bison. 

To top off the evening we stopped at Smith's in Lehi, on the way back home, and in keeping with tradition (for example, see here), we prepared a seafood dinner. We got a good deal on some small octopi, five pounds of Alaskan king crab legs and a one pound lobster tail. We fried the octopi in butter and they weren't bad. And of course, king crab and lobster are always good. 
Small, uncooked octopi ready to be cooked.
A cooked octopus on a Christmas plate. 
I love Antelope Island and have subsequently visited it quite a few times. The following are animals I've seen there since this original post:
American avocet

American robin

California gull

Canada goose

Eared grebe

Great Basin gopher snake

Great horned owl

Loggerhead shrike


Red-necked phalarope

Song sparrow

Northern shoveler

Common goldeneye

Green-winged teal

Greater scaup




Northern flicker

Red-tailed hawk

Franklin's gull

Ring-billed gull

Wilson's phalarope

Black-necked stilt

Black-billed magpie

Western meadowlark

Black-billed magpie

Red-winged blackbird