Bison on Antelope Island State Park on the Great Salt?

Antelope Island links itself to the mainland by a causeway dividing the Great Salt Lake. But ironically, the antelope aren’t the main attraction. Instead, we went to see the American Bison.

Always On Liberty - Antelope Island State Park

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Bison on Antelope Island State Park on the Great Salt??

In late June 2016, part of our visit to Utah was a working one.  While I attended the 4-day Young Living Convention in Salt Lake City, Dan stayed behind at Hill Air Force Base FamCamp to catch up on our fifth wheel’s RV maintenance.

Following the convention closing ceremony, we woke with the sun the next day, grabbed our touring bag and ventured out to the Great Salt Lake’s Antelope Island State Park.

Always On Liberty - Antelope Island - Great Salt Lake

We were warned by friends who visited before to avoid walking on the beaches. First, it wreaked of nasty dead stuff.  And second, the Brine Flies were swarming by the millions. Though they are harmless and move away from you with each step, it was just plain nasty.

Always On Liberty - Great Salt Lake - Antelope Island

A placard display near one the beach read each year, over 5 million birds of over 250 species visit Antelope Island to feast on the Brine Shrimp and Flies.

Now for a moment, think back to when we were kids when ‘sea monkeys’ were the rage.  Well, those were actually Brine Shrimp. And didn’t we feed Brine Shrimp to our Guppies in our aquariums?

U.S. Army Ranger and Air Force Memorial

On the causeway before reaching Antelope Island, we stopped to check out the U.S. Army Ranger and Air Force Memorial.

 

The memorial was dedicated in the memory of five U.S. Army Soldiers from the 75th Ranger Regiment and seven U.S. Air Force Airmen from the 1st Special Operations Air Wing who died October 29, 1992. Their MH-60G Pave Hawk crashed approximately 100 yards off the northern tip of Antelope Island. They were participating in a training exercise in unfavorable weather at the time of the 9:15 pm crash.

Always On Liberty - Antelope Island - Military Memorial

 

Always On Liberty - Antelope Island - Military Memorial Walkway

 

After spending a few minutes reading the names and paying our respects, we got back in the truck to drive onto the 42 square mile island.

Antelope Island Great Salt Lake State Park

Always On Liberty - Antelope Island - Great Salt Lake State Park

Always On Liberty - Antelope Island - Great Salt Lake State Park

We drove around the island and found the bison herd near the Fielding Garr Ranch. It was incredible watching them in their natural habitat with very little human interaction.  There were hundreds of them; 600 to be exact.

Always On Liberty - Antelope Island - Bison Herd
Notice the white salt flat in the distance with the bison in the foreground

Antelope Island’s bison herd is significant because it is one of the largest and oldest publicly-owned bison herds in the United States.  This herd is one of the two bison herds managed by the State of Utah. The other herd is in the Henry Mountains.

Always On Liberty - Antelope Island - Bison

About the Antelope Island Bison herd…

The Antelope Island Bison herd currently ranges between 550 and 700 bison. Other large free-ranging, publicly controlled herds of bison in the United States include:

    • Yellowstone Park (3,500 bison)
    • Custer State Park ,South Dakota (1,300 bison)
    • Henry Mountains in south-central Utah (300 to 500 bison)
    • National Bison Range Herd near Flathead Lake, Montana (400 bison)
    • Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota (350 bison)

Always On Liberty - Antelope Island - Bison

The bison on Antelope Island are Prairie Bison; the most common bison subspecies in North America. The bison have a distinct genetic heritage from many of the other bison herds in the United States. They are considered to be desirable as part of the breeding and foundation stock for other bison herds, because of their separate genetic heritage and those distinct genetic markers that are found in the population.

We also toured the island and had a little fun.

 

Always On Liberty - Antelope Island - Bison Sign
Shhhhh!  Don’t tell anyone I didn’t ‘stay on the road’. Don’t worry, no bison around there.
Antelope Island is also home to Pronghorn Antelope, Big Horn Sheep, Bobcats, Mule Deer, Coyotes, Bald Eagles, Golden Eagles, Hawks, Falcons, and smaller game to complete the circle of life.

Antelope Island State Park Visitor Center

We toured the Antelope Island State Park Visitor Center to learn a bit about the island, the wildlife and how the bison got there.

Always On Liberty - Antelope Island State Park Visitor Center

Always On Liberty - Antelope Island State Park Sign

Oh, and by the way.if you have arachnophobia, consider yourself warned! The spiders (harmless, they say!) were FREAKING HUGE and repulsive!!  I certainly wasn’t about to get too close.  They were everywhere!!

Antelope Island State Park - Spider Season

We spent about five hours touring Antelope Island State Park. We learned about the wildlife, bison herd and the history of Antelope Island

Info on Antelope Island State Park

Next time you’re visiting Salt Lake City, Utah, put Antelope Island on your list of things to visit.
 

State Park Visitor Hours

    • Open Daily 6:00 am – 10:00 pm
    • Closed: Thanksgiving, Christmas
    • Visitor Center Hours:  9:00 am – 5:00 pm
    • Fielding Garr Ranch Hours:  9:00 am – 5:00 pm

Before visiting Antelope Island State Park, check their website for current Park and Camping Fees and Policies and Park Rules.

If you plan on camping on the island, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to know that Antelope Island State Park is a participant in the International Dark Sky Association. So, leave your Vegas lights at home.

 
Antelope Island - International Dark Sky Association
 

If you love the American Bison, you’ll want to visit:

Theodore Roosevelt National Park: Bison and Badlands

Tatanka! The Fall of the American Bison

 

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