Antelope Island State Park - best place for sunsets in all of Utah


If you've never been to Antelope Island State Park in Syracuse, Utah, then you are missing out on a wonderful wildlife and nature viewing experience. Antelope Island is a preserve made up of a desert shrub and grassland island surrounded by the scenic Great Salt Lake. Standing on the shore of the Great Salt Lake is like standing on the coast of an ocean. Tiny islands dot the view and the lake goes on as far as the eye can see.


Lone Pronghorn
On the island you can see all kinds of wildlife, including pronghorn, bighorn sheep, American bison, porcupines, badgers, coyotes, bobcats, owls, and millions of waterfowl. The Great Salt Lake is an important rest and nesting stop for birds migrating through the Western United States.


Looking to the North from the rocky cliffs at my favorite sunset spot
This all adds up to a beautiful and scenic day at the "beach". Although camping is allowed at a campground on the island so you can extend your stay. The entrance fee to visit the island is $10 per vehicle, and just past the entrance you will drive out on a long causeway where you will see shorebirds galore. I've often seen owls on this causeway in the evenings. My favorite spot to watch the beautiful Utah sunsets is just past the marina to the right, where you will walk a small path onto rocky cliffs facing egg island (full of noisy birds that you can just hear if you listen closely and face the sound) and the setting sun.

Sunset beginning
Sunset with flocks of birds
Lovers' sunset
Natural sunset with no need for photo editing!
The orb spider, an unfortunate occurrence
When the orb spider infestation hits Antelope Island (I've only experienced it twice in all my visits out to the Island) it is unfortunately nearly impossible to walk around and get to the sunset spots, unless millions of silver dollar-sized spiders all running around their webs at the same time in every direction doesn't bother you. I attempted to rebel against the spiders and walk onto the cliffs anyway, but not very soon into my walk along the path did I turn around with a shudder and escape back to the car as quickly as possible. It may be advisable to bring along a head net on your visit, as during certain times of year the sand flies are too obnoxious to let you out of your car. I have left the island once with a circle of red welts around my face and on my scalp, courtesy of the sand flies. This is also a rare occurrence, only happening once in all my time there.

Pronghorn pals
My favorite animals to see on the island are the Pronghorn. These antelope-type creatures are plentiful, walk around in sometimes very large herds, and can be seen close-up with a good pair of binoculars. They are normally a bit skittish and wary of people. On my last trip to the island, I walked up on a giant porcupine attempting to get comfortable in a small bushy tree. The porcupine didn't even notice me as it focused on walking around the tree without falling out of it. I also caught a coyote sneaking around the shoreline, and some partridges (my first time seeing them in the wild) hiding behind a group of stones. If you visit the island at the right time, you will be able to see burrowing owls nesting. These funny owls are entertaining with their head bobbing and dancing maneuvers, but as of yet I have not been able to find and photograph them. I did happen to see a large barn owl one evening while driving up to the shore. It took off from one of the covered picnic table setups near the campground. As I followed it to try and photograph it, another flew out in front of me. As I tried photographing that one, yet another flew from the same place. I was not able to get a good picture because it was getting dark and they were too fast, but there ended up being 7 owls living above the picnic tables. If only I had gone in knowing that.
Best example of camouflage, ever
Horned Lark, common on the island
Bison snoozing
Majestic bison
Porcupine playin in a tree
Coyote
Partridges
And if you have extra time, just past Antelope Island is the Bear River Migratory Bird Reserve. This is a free preserve containing a large body of fresh water where pelicans, avocets, ibis, herons and other shore birds congregate to fish. This is a driving tour, but if you get out of your car at certain spots it feels as though you could be somewhere in Africa.

Pelicans and Ibis and plovers, oh my!
American Avocet
Hungry ibis
Egret
More ibis

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