Visitors to Antelope Island State Park drive across the causeway, a narrow two-lane road spanning from mainland to island, leaving the bustle of the Wasatch Front for a refuge of rangelands floating on a desert sea. Visitors will want to hike, bike and look for wildlife, as well as experience the best place to access Great Salt Lake. Be sure to visit the Fielding Garr Ranch located on the southeast side of the island. The Fielding Garr Ranch House is distinctive for two reasons: first, it is the oldest continually inhabited Anglo home in the state of Utah (from 1848 to 1981 when the island became a state park), and second, it is the oldest Anglo built house in Utah still on its original foundation.
4,200 feet at the shore. Frary Peak is the island’s highest point at 6,596 feet.
John C. Fremont and Kit Carson made the first known Anglo exploration of Antelope Island in 1845. The Island was named after the explorers observed several pronghorn antelope grazing on the rangelands.
Fielding Garr established the first permanent residence on the island in 1848. The ranch house he built is the oldest Anglo-built structure in Utah still on its original foundation.
The island and ranch passed from owner to owner until 1981 when the State of Utah purchased the 28,000-ace island for a State Park.
Antelope Island is part of what is known as the Basin and Range, stretching from the Wasatch mountains on the east to the Sierra Nevada mountain range to the west. Antelope Island is the largest island on Great Salt Lake at just over 28,000 acres, stretching 15 miles long and about 5 miles wide.
The oldest exposed rocks on the island are from the Farmington Canyon Complex, called gneiss. These metamorphic rocks have been dated to 1.7 billion years old, and are the same age as rocks found at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. These rocks can be seen on the southern two-thirds of the island.
Tintic Quartzite, found on the northern one-third of the island, is 550 million years old and was deposited in a shallow marine environment. This metamorphic rock can be seen around the Park’s visitor center, Lady Finger Point and Buffalo Point.
The youngest rocks on the island are tufa, a sedimentary rock deposited from concentrations of calcium carbonate during the time of Lake Bonneville. Tufa deposits typically resemble concrete and can be viewed from the Buffalo Point Trail.
Although surrounded by salt water, Antelope Island has over 40 fresh water springs producing enough water to support the islands abundant wildlife.
Bison are the most famous residents. Twelve animals were brought to the island in 1893 and were the foundation for today’s herd of 550 – 700. An annual bison roundup is held each fall to assess the health of the hard and sell extra animals.
Pronghorn antelope are native to Utah and to the island. These small, deer-like animals are the fastest animals in North America and can reach speeds of up to 70 miles per hour.
Mule deer and California bighorn sheep are the other large herbivores on the island. Predators include coyotes, badgers, bobcats and numerous birds of prey such as owls, hawks and falcons.
Also published on Medium.