Great Salt Lake

41 Pictures: 1-20 , 20-40 , 40-41

The Great Salt Lake

The Great Salt Lake is a notable Utah Landmark. This land locked terminal lake sits in the Great Basin and gathers waters from as far East as the Uinta and Wind River Mountains and from the West into Nevada.

The only outlet for the lake is evaporation. Minerals and salts brought from the mountains accumulate in the lake making the Salt Lake extremely salty. Only a few species of algae and brine shrimp live in the lake. The high density of the water means that people float in the water, making the lake a unique salty swimming experience.

The Great Salt Lake has a shallow bed and the surface area of the lake varies greatly with the amount of rain and irrigation in the the Great Basin. In 1963, the lake reached a low of 950 square miles. People thought that the lake might actually dry up completely. The lake reached a high in 1987 when the surface of the lake expanded to 3300 square miles. During the mid 80s, the rising lake threatened I80 and railroad routes through the area.

Just a scant 16,000 years ago, the Salt Lake was part of a much larger lake called Ancient Lake Bonneville which was 1000 feet deep and covered 19,691 square miles. If you are in the Salt Lake Valley, you can see "benches" on the mountainsides left from this ancient lake.

The wetlands around the lake are an important stop for migratory birds. Popular activities at the lake include bird watching and boating. The boaters on the lake have the dubious distinction of being among the saltiest sailors.

The best place to see the lake when traveling across I80 is at the Saltair Concert Hall. The Saltair was once a major resort. Unfortunately, near a inland lake with changing water levels, the resort has a history of receding beaches in dry cycles and floods in wet cycles. The first Saltair resort was destroyed by fire.

This gallery includes images of the Great Salt Lake and the Saltair concert hall.

Context: Lakes