After 860 miles on the road from Boulder, I’m spending the second of two nights in Salt Lake City, Utah. Google says that it’s 540 miles from Boulder, but that’s by boring Interstate 80 through Wyoming and doesn’t count the detours that I love to make.
While Salt Lake City is directly on any route between Boulder and Northern California, the main attraction for me here is Antelope Island. I’ve wanted to go to the island ever since March, when I met a fellow photographer at a Canyonlands National Park arch in Southern Utah.
Antelope is the largest of 10 islands in the Great Salt Lake, which is the largest lake west of the Mississippi. After the Dead Sea, it’s second saltiest lake in the world.
Named by John C. Fremont, when he travelled with Kit Carson through Utah in 1845, because he found some antelopes here, today the island has many more bison. In fact, the largest herd of bison, some 600, on public land is here in Antelope Island State Park. I got to the park as soon as it opened at 7 a.m. and saw many of those bison, the first that I have ever seen in the wild:
I also saw a coyote as it dashed across the road just ahead of me. As soon as I could stop my SUV and get out, I got this shot:
You can see that Antelope Island is no barren desert. In fact, thousands of these beautiful flowers are in bloom all over the island. I showed this picture in my camera to a ranger in the visitor center, who said they are Sego Lilies. But they aren’t, and I don’t know what they are.
This was my most technically difficult photograph, because the wind was blowing the flowers. I had to hold the stalk with one hand with the camera on a tripod. I also had to remove my shirt and put it over the camera and my head so I could see in the bright sun to focus my macro lens.
The visitor center didn’t open until a couple of hours after I arrived on the island. So I saved it until last. As I walked from the parking lot to the center, a young girl noticed my camera and pointed out spiders on many of the bushes there.
Just above the entrance door to the visitor center, some barn swallows are getting ready to fledge.
I was blown away by all the animal and plant life on what I had imagined was a desert island. Antelope Island this morning was worth every mile of my 850 mile drive.