Take the Family to Antelope Island State Park

Antelope Island Visitor Center

The Great Salt Lake is one of Mother Nature’s most fantastic creations, a briny swimming pool filled with pretty colors, and Antelope Island is the largest of the 10 islands within it. Many people head to Antelope Island State Park for its easily accessed beaches on the Great Salt Lake, but there’s more to do here than just get salty. From trails to wildlife watching to a pioneer-era ranch, here’s why Antelope Island State Park is worth the drive from Salt Lake City.

What to Know About Antelope Island

  • Antelope Island State Park is located at 4528 West 1700 South, Syracuse, Utah 84075. It’s about a two-hour drive north from Salt Lake City.
  • Antelope Island is the largest of the Great Salt Lake’s 10 islands.
  • The park features trails for hiking, horseback riding, and biking as well as picnic areas, beaches, and a marina. 
  • Free-roaming bison, mule deer, antelope, and bighorn sheep live on the island.
  • Historic Fielding Garr Ranch is located on Antelope Island and available for tours.
  • You can camp on Antelope Island.
  • The entrance fee is $10 per vehicle.
  • The biting gnats here can be vicious — bring bug spray!
Antelope Island Utah
The Great Salt Lake is beautiful, but kind of smelly and filled with brine shrimp, but you can swim it in if you want to.

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Things to Do on Antelope Island

It’s easy to spend a whole day here with the family. Antelope Island is a popular place to dip your toes (or your whole body, if you like feeling salty) in the Great Salt Lake; head to Bridger Bay Beach for the best spot on the island for swimming.

If you don’t feel like braving the brine shrimp or that sulfury smell, you may prefer the miles of hiking and biking trails available. By foot or by car, Antelope Island is a unique spot for wildlife watching, with bison, mule deer, antelope, and bighorn sheep wandering wild on the island.

Drive down to Historic Fielding Garr Ranch on the southeast side of the island to explore a pioneer-era ranch house. This can be a fun detour with kids. The ranch is located near Garr Springs, one of the more reliable places to spot bison and deer.

Primitive campsites are available on Antelope Island, and should you choose to stay overnight, you’ll be rewarded with brilliant starry skies in this remote, middle-of-the-lake location. 

Antelope Island Beaches
The beaches along the Great Salt Lake are sandy!

When to Go to Antelope Island

Antelope Island is very popular in summer, but be aware that it can get quite hot. Spring and fall have more moderate temperatures. Antelope Island is still fun to visit in winter, when the snow-capped Wasatch Mountains are visible against blue skies.

Antelope Island hosts an annual Cowboy Legends Festival in May, with cowboy poets, musicians, and wagon rides. There’s also an annual Bison Roundup in the fall, which the public is welcome to watch.

Bridger Bay Beach Antelope Island
Bridger Bay Beach on Antelope Island in winter — one of the best places to swim in the Great Salt Lake.

What to Bring to Antelope Island

Antelope Island is so prone to biting flies that there is a sign at the entrance noting that they don’t give refunds due to insects. Biting gnats, midges, brine flies, and mosquitos all breed here in the warmer months. Bring REALLY GOOD bug spray.

You’ll also want sunscreen and hats in the summer, and appropriate clothes in all seasons. There are just certain parts of your body you don’t want sunburned or gnat-bitten.

Food is limited here, so pack plenty of eats and drinks. There is only one restaurant, Island Buffalo Grill, and a few limited items at the visitor center. 

Antelope Island Bison
Spot the bison butt. A visit to Antelope Island nearly guarantees a view of bison, but doesn’t guarantee you’ll get the photo you want…

How to Get to Antelope Island

Antelope Island is located 4528 West 1700 South, Syracuse, Utah 84075. After heading north from Salt Lake City for about an hour, you’ll drive west, eventually reaching a two-lane road that will lead you across a causeway to the island. Sniff the air, and smell that Great Salt Lake smell!