I got to explore Antelope Island State Park this week, learning all sorts of things about this underrated wonderland. Here are three reasons I found worth visiting the state park for:
Eugene Swalberg of Utah State Parks gave me a lesson in wildlife safety on the island. The famous Antelope Island bison roam free on the island, so, he says, there's a good chance you might run into them at any moment of any day throughout the year. But they generally leave tourists alone, as long as they return the favor.
"If you notice that a bison starts noticing you a little too much, back away slowly and leave them alone," said Eugene. "Just give them space and use common sense."
Meadowlarks and other birds make for amazing birdwatching (and a great soundtrack to your trip!), while animals like burrowing owls and jack rabbits may make an appearance as well.
Assistant park manager Wendy Wilson assured us that we won't find the Great Salt Lake's infamous smell and "biting gnats" all year.
An article from the Standard-Examiner says, "The area about 15 miles north of Salt Lake City gets its characteristic odor when the nutrient-rich wastewater [in nearby Farmington Bay] feeds algae blooms that in turn feed bacteria after they die. The rotten-egg odor comes from hydrogen sulfide gas, a byproduct of the process." So you only get the smell when the wind blows the bay water toward Antelope Island (or Salt Lake City, for that matter!).
As for the biting gnats, they don't like the heat of summer, nor strong breezes, nor the actual water or shorelines at Antelope Island, so plan your trip accordingly. In the gift shop, you can purchase a user-friendly head net if you want an added layer of protection.
You can camp on the island by reserving a spot at stateparks.utah.gov. Or you can camp in style, and convenience, by reserving a spot then calling Utah Camping Company to set up your glamping experience! They will set up a fully stocked, fully furnished canvas tent or custom camping trailer at your reserved campsite, with the best part being, you don't have to return anything or dump/service the RV when you're done! It's camping without any of the gear or hard work, which makes the $150-$220/night cost so worth it in my opinion.
My final reason why Antelope Island deserves your attention can be found at Antelope E-Bike Co., where people of any size and athletic ability can rent a bike powered with an electric motor. Want a workout? Use the pedals! Want the bike to do the work? Use the throttle to make uphills and long distances a breeze! At $30-$40 per hour (with costs calculated by the quarter-hour so you don't overpay for an extended ride), an e-bike is an affordable way to view the wildlife and scenery in open-air.
Find out more about this amazing Utah state park at stateparks.utah.gov.