The Ultimate Guide to the Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah
A visit to the Bonneville Salt Flats near Salt Lake City, Utah is a must-add to your bucket list!
The ancient remains of Lake Bonneville are 110 miles west of Salt Lake City Center, and include the Bonneville Salt Flats. The flats cover 30,000 acres of land that stretches across western Utah. Try to imagine miles and miles of densely packed salt against the backdrop of the Silver Island Mountain Range. Its unlike anything I’ve ever seen.
Wendover, the western area of the Salt Flats, is known for the famous Bonneville Speedway car races because the perfectly flat, thick crusted surface is ideal for racing cars. However, I recommend enjoying the flats on foot so you can experience one of nature’s unusual triumphs!
Also, sometimes, the Salt Flats show reflections of the mountains and sky, depending on the heat rising off the salt. And, in winter, when there’s a layer of water covering the flats, it looks like glass.
Know before you go
When To Go
Expect hot, desert temperatures if you go during a summer day. It can be up to 100 degrees fahrenheit. Evenings are cooler and much more pleasant, and the sunset is gorgeous! Also, if you go during the winter months, you’ll experience a layer of water covering the flats which makes them softer and more fragile. During that time, you can expect cold temperatures below zero degrees fahrenheit and high winds.
How To Get There
Drive on I80 west from the center of Salt Lake City 111 miles to the Wendover Salt Flats Rest Area. Put that in your GPS and don’t drive past it because the next turn around is miles down the road. The rest area has parking, bathrooms, and perfect access to the Salt Flats.
What To Wear
I was worried about wearing any favorite shoes on the surface, but didn’t need to be concerned. The salt was dry and smooth, and while my shoes had a little salt on the bottom, it was easily wiped off. I even went barefoot for a while! The rest stop provides a water spray station to wash the salt from your shoes and feet!
- You’re not allowed to camp on the flats, but there are private and public campgrounds are available in Wendover.
- Don’t attempt to bring your rental car on the Flats! The salt corrodes the vehicle and a lot of the area is just thin salt on top of soft mud which makes it fragile under the weight of a car. Cars and trucks get stuck in the mud and salt. We saw several people zooming around and doing donuts in their cars and it was loud and seemed disrespectful to the pristine environment.
- Flying drones is allowed!
Bonneville Salt Flat Fun Facts
- The Bonneville Salt Flats are the largest of the Utah salt flats.
- The federal government owns most of this land and portions are used for military testing.
- An excavation at Danger Cave proved that people occupied the area over 10,300 years ago!
- In 1846 the famous Donner Party crossed the Salt Flats as a “shortcut” to California.
- In 1910, the Southern Pacific Railroad was built to cross the Salt Flats and reach San Francisco.
- Lake Bonneville was originally the size of Lake Michigan!
- The Bonneville Salt Flats is designated as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern.
- The surface is made of potassium, magnesium lithium and your basic table salt, sodium chloride.