Where is Antelope Island State Park
- Park Address: 4528 West 1700 South, Syracuse, Utah 84075
Antelope Island State Park is a rugged and stunning park located in the Northern part of Utah. The state park is officially in the town of Syracuse, Utah. However, most people are unfamiliar with Syracuse, Utah, and far more likely to know Utah’s nearby state capital, Salt Lake City. Salt Lake City is not only one of the most visited places in Utah, but also the most populous city in the state.
While Antelope Island US State Park sits just northwest of Salt Lake City, the drive there takes longer than expected. Due to the bays and protected land west of Salt Lake City Airport, visitors to Antelope Island must take Interstate 15 north through the towns of Farmington and Layton, before hitting the park entrance in Syracuse.
How Big is Antelope Island State Park
Antelope Island is roughly fifteen miles in length and only five miles across. In total, the landmass of this park is only 42 square miles (or 28,000 acres), but this gorgeous and unique park packs a punch. There is over 2,500 feet in elevation gain from the entrance to the park to its highest point and some of the best views over the largest saltwater lake in the Northern Hemisphere.
Antelope Island State Park is located along one of the Continental United States most interesting ecosystems, the Great Salt Lake. The Great Salt Lake formed from a prehistoric pluvial lake that once covered huge swaths of the State of Utah. The only outlet for the Great Salt Lake is evaporation, which leads to very high levels of minerals and salinity in the water.
The uninhabited Antelope Island is on the Great Salt Lake’s southeastern edge. The State Park occupies the largest peninsula on the lake and is only accessible via a seven-mile, narrow causeway.
Antelope Island State Park Weather
Similar to other parts of the western United States, the weather in Antelope Island State Park changes with the seasons. From winter to summer, there is a massive change in both average temperature and precipitation. This swing in climate makes it crucial for visitors to pick the right season for their visit.
Winter in Antelope Island State Park is crisp and wet. The average maximum temperature in January and February is 35°F, with overnight temperatures frequently in the 20’s. Precipitation, often in the form of snow, is common over winter. Over the past 30 years, January’s precipitation regularly surpasses 60 mm of snow, sleet, or rain.
The weather in summer is nearly opposite of winter. It is frequently sunny, dry, and hot. Daily temperatures can crest 85°F throughout July and August, and without much cloud cover or rain, can feel much hotter. July and August only average 13-14 mm of rain.
When did Antelope Island Become a State Park
This history of Antelope Island and the present-day Utah State Park is an intertwined history of the island’s geography, Native American habitation, and Mormon settlements. While the island was first inhabited by nomadic Native Americans over 6,000 years ago and explored by John C. Fremont and Kit Carson in 1843, the first known settlement on the island was trapper, Daddy Stump.
Daddy Stump’s cabin was the lone residence on the peninsula through the mid-1850’s, when Fielding Garr, George and Alice Frary, John Dooley Sr., and other settlers staked the land to use for ranching and grazing. Bison, sheep, and cattle remained the island’s primary residents until the State of Utah purchased the land in two parcels from the Island Ranching Company.
The first acquisition was made in 1969. 2,000 acres on the northern end of Antelope Island were bought and repurposed by the state Great Salt Lake State Park. The remaining 26,000 acres were acquired in 1981. However, the causeway was damaged by flooding and rising water levels in 1983.
The isolated state park remained closed to the public until 1993, when the causeway was repaired. At this time it reopened as Antelope Island State Park.
Things to do in Antelope Island State Park
The dramatic scenery and wild landscape that comprises Antelope Island State Park is a fitting backdrop for the vast outdoor and adventure activities available on the island. Throughout the year there are options for families, couples, and solo travelers. Below, our State Park Visitors Guide outlines the top activities to do in Antelope Island State Park.
There is over 45 miles of interconnected, non-motorized trail in Antelope Island State Park. The park has marked 13 individual loops or out-and-back options that range from .6 to 21 miles in length. Opposite in terms of length and difficulty, the Frary Peak Trail (longer and difficult) and the Buffalo Point Trail (short and easy) offer some of the best views along Antelope Island’s scenic northern side.
The R & G Horse and Wagon, located right on the island, offers daily trail rides from spring through autumn. The outfitter requires a request form submitted at this time, given the circumstances of COVDI-
Many of the non-motorized trails that allow hikers and horseback riders are also open for use by mountain bikers. The trails are open and accessible for bikers most days of the year. Some of the most popular loops for bikers are White Rock Bay loop, Split Rock Bay, and Elephant Head.
One of the earlier settlements on the island still stands today. The Fielding Garr Ranch is a hands-on museum that allows visitors to touch, explore, and wander through the old ranch structures and equipment. There are occasional tours provided by park staff/rangers, which can add color to the lives of the families that once occupied this territory. The ranch is open 9:00am to 5:00pm daily.
Most people don’t guess that it is possible to swim in the Great Salt Lake, but a glimpse of the Bridger Bay day use beach, showers, and shimmering surroundings will have you wading into the salty water.
A large herd of bison still roam freely through Antelope Island State Park. The bison herd was first brought to the island by John Dooley S., and the family’s ranching business remained on the island until 1981. Even after the ranching left, a herd of 500-700 bison remains for visitors to view at a distance.
The free range of Antelope Island State Park is home to other wildlife, including bighorn sheep, coyote, bobcats, mule deer, pronghorn, and badger.
When to go to Antelope Island State Park
Antelope Island State Park is accessible year-round, but there are definite differences in the seasons. The summer is dry, hot, and crowded on Antelope Island. For many out-of-state visitors, the draw of summer is more reliable weather, comfort camping and hiking, and longer days to explore. As days become shorter and temperature drops, so does Antelope Island’s popularity. However, there are a number of great reasons to visit in the winter.
Winter in Antelope Island State Park is often pleasant, both in temperature and traffic. Trails, wildlife viewing, and even biking can be enjoyed all year, and Northern Utah has approximately 230 days of sunshine a year, meaning you should have some enjoyable weather during your visit.
Must-Have Things to Bring to Antelope Island State Park
Antelope Island is a short drive from the suburbs of Salt Lake City, but cross the causeway and you are worlds away. The visitors center and gift shop have essentials to restock, however, List of Parks advises it is best to come prepared when you enter the park.
The elevation and sunshine can be a brutal combination for the unprepared. Even on a short hike, like Ladyfinger Trial, visitors will want to carry water, just in case of emergency.
Whether stopping by for the day or camping overnight, the trails and outdoor activities on Antelope Island are sure to call your name. Come prepared to explore the gorgeous scenery with the right footwear.
While there is only one road that winds down Antelope Island, the park’s various features and stop offs are all noted on the park map that comes with your park admission fee. In particular, campers and hikers will want to carry their map throughout a trip to Antelope Island State Park.
Spring is the worst time of year for mosquitos and other bugs, but you will want to have this on hand, no matter what time of year you visit.
The lowest elevation in Antelope Island State Park is over 4,200 feet. This exposure, even on an overcast day in winter, can cause sunburn and sun damage. Sunscreen is an essential, no matter what activities you have planned in the park.
It is so important to leave state parks the way we find them by cleaning up all garbage and food substances we bring into the park. There are plenty of trash bins around the state park but be ready to collect your lunch leftovers or empty water bottle in a trash bag for disposal.
Most parts of Antelope Island State Park are dog-friendly. However, these same park amenities require you to keep your pet on a leash. This requirement extends to trails, campsites, and parking lots.
Where to Stay in Antelope Island State Park
There are three separate campgrounds in Antelope Island State Park, for a total of 52 separate campsites. Plus, there is one group campsite available for $180 a night and allowing up to 80 people.
Both the Bridger Bay Campsite and Ladyfinger Campsite are $20 a night, including entrance to the park for one vehicle. Ladyfinger Campsite restricts each site to one vehicle and maximum four people. This campsite is restricted to tents-only and some sites are hike-in and pack-out, roughly ¼ mile from the nearest parking. Ladyfinger Campground does not have water or electricity, but both are available at the park’s beach.
At Bridger Bay guests can pay an additional $18 per vehicle and have up to eight people per site. There are tent and self-contained RV sites, and all sites are drive-in campsites. There are primitive toilets, but showers are only available down at the beach.
White Rock Bay Campsite is $40 per site per night, which covers the cost of two vehicles and up to sixteen people. Fees for White Rock Bay also include state park entrance. There are 20 primitive sites at White Rock Bay that have toilets, but no water or electricity on-site.
Food Nearby Antelope Island State Park
Antelope Island State Park has a single option for sit down or carry out dining, the Island Buffalo Grill. The cafe and grill serve up all the staples from March 1- November 1 each season but is particularly known for their bison burger. It is the self-proclaimed best in the state.
Along Route 127, heading into Antelope Island State Park, there are fast food, fast casual, and sit-down restaurant options ranging from burgers and fries to Mexican food, and even Thai food. A few stand-out options are Crown Burgers just off I-15, The Bird for chicken sandwiches, Hug-Hes Cafe, and Jin’s restaurant for fantastic Japanese food.
Airports Near Antelope Island State Park
The distance from Salt Lake City Airport to Antelope Island State Park is deceiving on the map. To an unfamiliar visitor, it can look like a straight shot from the airport to the Antelope Island peninsula. However, visitors have almost two hours of driving and almost 60 miles of driving from the airport to Antelope Island State Park. At this distance, Antelope Island State Park makes a better day trip from Salt Lake City than directly from the airport.