Bonneville Salt Flats and Silver Island Mountains

The Bonneville Salt Flats are located on the western edge of Utah along I-80.  They are world renowned as the place where land speed records are set, chosen for their natural flatness.  I was looking for a place to camp overnight on my camping road trip during June of this year, and this was a better choice than I expected.  There is no camping allowed on the salt flats, but camping is allowed around the adjacent Silver Island Mountains, which were an unexpected gem.  Of the five places I camped that week, this was the quietest and most peaceful.

My stopping place before sunset
My stopping place before sunset

The road that loops around the mountains is 54 miles.  That didn’t seem like much during my planning, but it is rough gravel and dirt, with numerous wash-outs and rocks, so it was slow going.  I chose a place on the west side of the range, so that the sun wouldn’t wake me too early in the morning.  I set up camp quickly, and then I enjoyed the sunset.

The view from my tent at sunset

It was another night of nearly full moon, of which I took full advantage.  However, unlike the previous night, there was no wind.  No breeze of any kind, except for occasional and brief moments of the slightest movement of air.  I heard no animals and no insects (though I did discover and subsequently avoid a nest of fire ants).  As it grew dark, I could see but not hear lights from a road and an industrial facility miles away.  Looking at the map now, I realize I was seeing I-80 as it turned northwest in Nevada, and Graymont Pilot Peak Plant, approximately seventeen miles away.  These lights were so distant, they did not spoil my sense of solitude at all.  Yet when I was in a high position, I had a cell and internet signal.

A view of my camp site from a higher point

I had had great plans of photographing the salt flats.  Perhaps even photographing myself on the salt flats.  However, I discovered that there was an inch of water on the flats.  I’ve learned subsequently that this is a seasonal phenomenon.  Had I come through a couple months later, I’m sure the flats would have been dry as a bone.

The Bonneville Salt Flats in June

It was still pretty, of course.  However, I wasn’t in the mood to walk through this.  So I got on the road and continued on my trip.

In hindsight, I think a weekend spent here would be just perfect, especially a little later in the season when there isn’t water on the flats.  As a photographer, I would thoroughly enjoy photographing a model out here on the salt flats.