10 Fun Things To Do At Antelope Island State Park In Utah

Bison statue on Antelope Island

At 28,000 acres, Antelope Island in Utah is the largest of ten islands in the Great Salt Lake near Salt Lake City. And, as an island, it's one of the best places to see the Great Salt Lake in Utah. Here are ten fun things to do when you visit Antelope Island State Park.

Located about an hour northwest of downtown Salt Lake City, Antelope Island State Park is the largest of ten islands in the Great Salt Lake, offering some of the best views of this unique body of water. And, as an island in the middle of the largest salt water lake in North America, visiting is one of the best things to do in Utah. However, in a nod to Rhode Island’s deceptive name, the Puerto Rico-shaped, 28,000-acre state park is often a peninsula (and not an island) when the lake level is low enough.

Sage Advice:  Another way to explore Utah’s Great Salt Lake via a bus tour. This guided tour from Salt Lake City provides an overview of the area, explores the wetlands habitat, and even lets you dip your toes in the salty water.

Have You Visited Antelope Island State Park?

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Antelope Island State Park welcomes approximately 300,000 visitors each year, making it one of many things Utah is famous for. To access the island, visitors can drive, bicycle, or walk across a causeway. About seven miles west of I-15 exit 332 near Layton, the causeway crosses the Great Salt Lake’s Farmington Bay, connecting the Antelope Island Marina to the town of Syracuse, Utah.

There is a modest fee to enter the state park, currently $15 per vehicle for up to eight people or $3 per person if you’re arriving by motorcycle, bicycle, or on foot. Visitors can enjoy the island between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm daily except Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Related Article:  10 Essential Biking Rules Every Cyclist Should Know


If you want to experience Utah’s Great Salt Lake, here are ten fun things to do when you visit Antelope Island.

Fun Fact: The Great Salt Lake is between 3.5 and 8 times saltier than the ocean.

1. Visit the Antelope Island State Park Visitors Center

After the trek across the causeway, start your adventure with a stop at the Visitors Center. Not only will you find the best toilets on the island, but you’ll get a great overview of the Great Salt Lake and the animals that call Antelope Island home. The park rangers at the Visitors Center are usually able to give you the most accurate and up-to-date information about the free-range bison herd (see tip #3) and other creatures that have recently been sighted in the area.

Sage Advice:  If you love Antelope Island, then you won’t want to miss these seven other Utah state parks!

View from Lady Finger Trail at Antelope Island in Salt Lake City
Photo Credit: Sage Scott.

2. Hike the Island Trails

There are approximately 20 miles of trails to be explored on the Great Salt Lake’s biggest island. Antelope Island hikes range from piece of cake to pretty challenging. Easy or hard, every trail I explored offered amazing views of either the Great Salt Lake or the Wasatch Mountains.

Since my left foot was still in a post-surgery state of healing, I slid into my favorite hiking sandals (yes, I promise that’s a thing) and started with the super duper easy Lady Finger Point Trail.

It’s a half-mile round trip loop with only an eight-foot elevation difference. It’s a great trail for families, especially those with younger children. Scramble around large rocks for a nice view of Egg Island, home to many nesting birds like California gulls. 

The trails on Antelope Island also provide some of the best places to see the Great Salt Lake. But as the highest point on Antelope Island, Frary Peak is one of the best places to take in the beauty of the island, Great Salt Lake, and surrounding Wasatch Mountains.

Whichever trails you explore, remember that the island is 4,000 ft above sea level and surrounded by some of the most saline water you’ll ever meet. Be sure to take plenty of drinking water, apply bug repellent, and use adequate sun protection on all Antelope Island hikes.

Sage Advice:  Dogs are permitted on Antelope Island and on the hiking trails provided they are on a leash.

Photo Credit: Sage Scott

3. Admire the Animals on Antelope Island

Although the island is named after the pronghorn antelope, you are more likely to see bison. Motivated by money, William Glassman and John Dooly dropped a herd of bison off on Antelope Island in 1893. With native populations of American bison nearing extinction as the Federal government killed them by the trainloads to manipulate Native Americans, John Dooly thought he could create a hunting ranch and charge people to hunt the bison.

Dooly quickly realized that his idea was financially impossible, and a large hunt was organized in 1926 to eradicate the bison. While most of the herd was killed, a group of bison escaped the massacre. Left alone on the island they propagated into the hundreds. Today, Antelope Island is home to one of the largest and oldest publicly-owned bison herds in the country.

Each year, in late October, the bison roundup corrals the island’s herd of bison in a central location. The creatures are examined and vaccinated. Then the bison version of the Hunger Games takes place. Because the island offers the perfect prairie-like habitat for the beasts — and because the bison have no real predators here — approximately 150 calves are born each year.

Since the island can sustain no more than 700 head of these beasts, the excess bison must be culled. The majority of the bison are released to once again roam freely. But those that are selected to leave the herd are sent off of the island.

They might join another herd at a national park like Yellowstone. Or, they may be purchased by a farm where they are either bred or sent to the slaughterhouse.

In addition to the bison, Antelope Island is home to about 200 head each of mule deer, bighorn sheep, and, of course, pronghorn antelope. Moving on to smaller species, you may spot a badger, porcupine, rabbit, or squirrel. A few carnivores like coyotes and bobcats round out the Antelope Island ecosystem.
Fielding Garr Ranch House at Antelope Island State Park
Tour the adobe ranch house at the Fielding Garr Ranch, the oldest European-American building in Utah still on its original foundation.

4. Check Out the Historic Fielding Garr Ranch

In the mid-1800s, a Mormon widower named Fielding Garr settled on the east side of the island with his nine children. At the LDS Church’s request, he built an adobe house and a ranch to manage the Church’s herds of cattle and sheep.

Wait! What about fresh drinking water?  As it turns out, there are several springs on the island. Garr chose this specific location for the ranch because it’s near the strongest and most consistent spring on the island.

An Outbuilding on the Fielding Garr Ranch on Antelope Island in Utah
An outbuilding at the Fielding Garr Ranch.

Under the leadership of the LDS Church, Fielding Garr operated the ranch for more than 20 years. In 1870, it was purchased by John Dooly, the man with the bison hunting ranch dream. Although that didn’t work out, the ranch was continuously operated and inhabited for more than 100 years.

At its peak, the Fielding Garr Ranch was one of the largest sheep ranches in the country with 10,000 head of sheep. Ranching operations ceased in 1981 when the remaining private property was sold and the Antelope Island State Park became part of the Utah State Parks system.

Barn at the Fielding Garr Ranch on Antelope Island
Although no sheep have lived in this barn for several decades, visitors can still learn about the ranching operation when they visit the Fielding Garr Ranch.
A visit to the Fielding Garr Ranch today allows you to step back in time. Explore the old adobe ranch house, silo, bunkhouse, and stables. Or see sheep shearing, wool processing, and the blacksmith shop in action on select days.
A trail ride on Antelope Island is anything but boring! See the island from a unique perspective by taking a horseback ride.

5. Hail a Horse to Explore Antelope Island State Park

Rent a horse through Rhodes Valley Outfitters, and explore Antelope Island in a truly unique fashion. This isn’t your typical face-to-fanny trail ride. Rather, a horseback ride on Antelope Island is an open range experience led by an expert wrangler who knows the island like the back of his hand. Exploring Antelope Island State Park on horseback with a guide can provide you with an up close and personal experience like no other!

Sage Advice:  Follow these tips to  adjust to the higher altitudes of Salt Lake City or get answers to all of your embarrassing altitude sickness questions in this related article.

6. See the Sights via an Electric Bike

Soak up the scenery and learn about Antelope Island from an experienced guide as you pedal around the Great Salt Lake Island on an electric bike. If you’ve never ridden an electric bike, it’s like a mountain bike. With super powers. 

Pedal it like any other bicycle. When you need a boost — to get up a hill or because you’ve fallen behind gazing at the island’s wildlife — then use the electric battery to temporarily convert it into what I call “moped mode.”

View of the Great Salt Lake from Antelope Island
Photo Credit: Sage Scott.

7. Breathe in the Salt Air (or Not)

Spoiler Alert:  The Great Salt Lake is incredibly salty!  The rivers that empty into the Great Salt Lake carry salt and other minerals. Because there is no outlet for the lake, the salt becomes more concentrated as the water evaporates.

While the salinity varies in different parts of the lake, the entire Great Salt Lake is too salty for fish or other common lake-dwellers. What does thrive, however, are brine shrimp and brine flies. While that’s bad for fishermen, it’s fantastic for the 250 species of birds that feed on both.

Planning my day on Antelope Island, every local I chatted with complained about two things:  the smell and the flies. I’m happy to report that neither was really an issue. There was a bit of a sulphury, rotten egg smell driving over Farmington Bay on the causeway to the Antelope Island Marina, but nothing at all once I was on the island. Brine flies weren’t an issue, likely because I visited the Great Salt Lake in February.

A summer or early fall visit will likely include an encounter with a mass of brine flies along the shoreline. A cloud of black flies sounds intimidating, but apparently brine flies don’t bite and aren’t interested in pestering humans.

Fun Fact:  After adult brine flies hatch, their casings often pile up along the shoreline of the Great Salt Lake. One year, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources counted seven billion cases along the Antelope Island Causeway. That’s more brine fly casings than there are people on earth!

8. Watch for Birds

With an abundance of delicious brine shrimp, the Great Lake attracts a wide variety of migrating and nesting birds. Along the shoreline, watch for mallard ducks, Canada geese, great blue herons, and ibis. On the island, keep an eye out for pheasants, quail, burrowing owls, and red-winged blackbirds. Bald eagles, peregrine falcons, and great horned owls are some of the other more than 250 bird species you might encounter on Antelope Island.

Sage Advice:  The Antelope Island Causeway and the Fielding Garr Ranch are two ideal locations for bird watching.

9. Photograph Your Experience

Whether you prefer wildlife, landscape, or portrait photography, Antelope Island won’t disappoint! Head to the island to capture:

  • stunning sunsets,
  • smooth beaches,
  • free range bison,
  • rugged rocks,
  • mountain backdrops,
  • and more!

Fun Fact:  The metamorphic and igneous rocks on Antelope Island are some of the oldest in the nation, even older than those found at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

Related Article:  7 Tips for Taking Better Travel Photos

A campsite at Bridger Bay on Antelope Island
A campsite at Bridger Bay on Antelope Island. Photo courtesy of Antelope Island State Park Facebook page.

10. Spend the Night Under the Stars Camping at Antelope Island State Park

If you want to spend the night at Antelope Island camping, there are about 50 campsites across four campgrounds. However, camping at Antelope Island is quite rustic. Antelope Island campgrounds have neither water nor electricity, and generators must be turned off during quiet hours from 10:00 pm to 7:00 am. Although the campgrounds have pit toilets, facilities available at Bridger Bay Beach include flush toilets and showers.

Places to Stay Near Antelope Island State Park

Who prefers running water, electricity, and cable television to hard core camping? (I know my hand is up in the air and waving frantically!) There are plenty of other accommodations near Antelope Island State Park.

For an upscale stay in Downtown Salt Lake City, check out The Grand America Hotel. Not only does each room feature handcrafted furniture, original art, and Italian marble bathrooms, but up to four children can stay free in their parent or guardian’s room.

A more moderate accommodation option near Antelope Island is the Homewood Suites by Hilton. Its rooftop terrace offers panoramic views of Downtown Salt Lake City, reinforcing its location in the heart of it all.

You’re also sure to enjoy the Ellerbeck. Built in the late 1880s, this historic mansion was once home to Thomas Ellerbeck’s third wife, Henrietta, and her seven children. Today the bed and breakfast has six beautifully decorated suites, each with a private bath. 

If a vacation rental is more your style, this magnificent 4,700-square-foot home offers five bedrooms, three bathrooms, and scenic views of the Great Salt Lake. And if that’s not impressive enough, there’s also an in-ground trampoline and basketball court!

Practical Tips for Visiting Antelope Island State Park

Here’s all of the practical information you need to visit Antelope Island State Park in Utah’s Great Salt Lake.

Where is Antelope Island?

Antelope Island is the largest island in the Great Salt Lake northwest of Salt Lake City, Utah. To visit Antelope Island State Park in Davis County near Syracuse, Utah, take Antelope Island Road (also known as the Antelope Island Causeway) from Syracuse to the island.

How Do You Get to Antelope Island?

To reach Antelope Island from Downtown Salt Lake City and the Salt Lake City International Airport, Take Interstate 15 (I-15) North to Exit 332. Turn left on Antelope Island Road in Davis County and follow it west over Farmington Bay to Antelope Island.

How to Use This Map

  • Zoom in or out using the + and – keys in the bottom right corner.
  • Click the “More options” text link in the upper left corner to open this embedded map in a new browser window and take advantage of more  options including the ability to send these directions to your phone.

How Far is Antelope Island from Salt Lake City?

It’s about 60 miles from Downtown Salt Lake City, Temple Square, or the Salt Lake City International Airport to Antelope Island State Park. It takes about an hour to reach the state park by car.

Is Antelope Island Really an Island?

Although Antelope Island is technically an island, it is often a peninsula when the water level of the Great Salt Lake is low enough.

Can You Drive Around Antelope Island?

No, the road doesn’t fully encircle Antelope Island. Once you cross the causeway and arrive at the Antelope Island Marina, you can drive along the west coast of the island to visit Bridger Bay and the White Rock Bay Campground. Or, you can travel the road that parallels Farmington Bay on the island’s east coast to Fielding Garr Ranch.

What Animals are on Antelope Island?

Despite being named for its pronghorn antelope, Antelope Island’s bison herd is one of the oldest and largest in the United States. In addition to bison and antelope, watch for a variety of migrating and nesting birds since Antelope Island is home to more than 250 bird species. You’re also likely to see badgers, porcupines rabbits, and squirrels. And if you’re lucky, you might even spot a coyote or bobcat when you visit Antelope Island.

Are There Antelope on Antelope Island?

Yes! Keep an eye out for pronghorn antelope when you visit Antelope Island. But keep in mind that Antelope Island is more famous for its bison herd than its antelope.

How Many Bison are on Antelope Island?

Antelope Island can support a maximum of 700 head of bison.

Are Dogs Allowed on Antelope Island?

Dogs are allowed at Antelope Island State Park and on the Antelope Island hiking trails provided they are on a leash.

When is Antelope Island State Park Open?

The park is open year round providing opportunities to visit in all seasons. Antelope Island hours are from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm March and October and 7:00 am to 7:00 pm November to February. Please note that the hours for the Visitor Center and Fielding Garr Ranch may vary. Both are closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

How Much Does It Cost to Visit Antelope Island State Park?

As of June 2022, the Antelope Island entrance fee is $15 per vehicle for up to eight people. Discounts are available to seniors. If you plan to bike or walk your way onto Antelope Island, the fee is $3 per day for cyclists and pedestrians. Find additional information about park fees here.

How Big is Antelope Island?

At nearly 27,000 acres (about 42 square miles), Antelope Island is the biggest of the ten islands in the Great Salt Lake.

Can You Camp on Antelope Island?

Yes! Camping is one of several things to do at Antelope Island State Park. There are about 50 campsites across four campgrounds on Antelope Island.

Be advised that Antelope Island camping is a bit rustic. There is neither fresh water nor electricity at the campsites. Additionally, generators must be silenced between 10:00 pm and 7:00 am.

Can You Swim at Antelope Island?

Yes! If you’d like to dip your feet in the Great Salt Lake or float in its intensely saline water, try Bridger Bay in the northwest part of Antelope Island.

What Can You Photograph on Antelope Island?

From beautiful scenery to adorable animals, there is plenty to photograph at Antelope Island State Park. Watch for the island’s impressive herd of free range bison, stay for a spectacular sunset, and capture mountains, the Great Salt Lake, and more in between!

For the latest information, including Antelope Island camping fees and special events, visit the Antelope Island State Park website.

Have You Visited Antelope Island in Utah's Great Salt Lake?

What did you do and see when you visited Antelope Island State Park? Any tips to share? Share your experiences in the comments section below.


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19 thoughts on “10 Fun Things To Do At Antelope Island State Park In Utah”

  1. I was there a few years back. I was visiting my brother. I had my camera and wanted to take a few sunrise pictures over the mountains. I searched online and found Antelope Island. I got great pictures including a few great panoramic ones. I am returning next week to visit my mother and brother and I plan on making another trip to the island before I leave.

  2. Great tips! Salt Lake City is on my bucket list, I just haven’t gotten over to that area of the states yet. I’ll definitely add Antalope Island to my must-see list!

  3. What a fun place to explore near Salt Lake, Utah! I had never heard of Antelope Island but when I showed my wife from Wyoming, she couldnt believe that there were so many buffalo outside of her own home state!
    Looks like a fun place to explore the wildlife for sure. Of course seeing the main wild animals would be cool but I think the idea of seeing the owls or and Osprey soaring about trying to catch dinner would be even cooler to me!

  4. great info! Now I want to go – I have been to SLC dozens of times because my husband is from there, but we’ve never been to Antelope. Adding it to the “to do” list!

  5. I have Utah on my bucketlist. I will have to visit Antalope Island. As much as I love hiking, it would be a blast to explore by horseback. I would love to see all the bison. That would be awesome!

  6. I’ve been to Utah a few times now, but never really spent much time near Salt Lake and it’s namesake lake. Hope to be back again in the near future to check out the Great Salt Lake itself and this is great information.

  7. Those are all great things to do. I’m more into please don’t… approach the bison or casually walk through the field trying to get the perfect picture. Please stay off and stop approaching Egg Island. The echo system is delicate and stressing birds out isn’t cool. Read up. Please stop throwing your trash everywhere. Take only photos and trash when you leave. Please don’t destroy, topple, carve, fly drones, be super obnoxious, remove items or leave your trash in full bins. It’s delicate, yet rugged. It’s beautiful in its own way. Have respect and admiration. If harsh desert conditions aren’t your thing, the mall is straight back up antelope drive and to your right.

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