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 Prairie Bison.
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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.
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.
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 a childhood ‘thing’. 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.
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.
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.
About Antelope Island’s 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)
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.
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.
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!!
Info on Antelope Island State Park
Antelope Island 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
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.
More information on what is a Dark Sky Community
If you love the American Bison, you’ll want to visit:
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