We were about to have a wonderful wildlife viewing experience! We had most of the day to spend at Antelope Island near Salt Lake City, and we were determined to make the most of our day. We started at the Visitor’s Center (postcards!), which had a board showing where different animals were hanging out that day. It also had a tank full of brine shrimp, so you could see how little they were. A fully grown brine shrimp is 12 mm at the largest.
Then we drove over to check out the Fielding Garr Ranch. On the way, we were treated to up-close views of several bison, who were lying down resting in the grass. They were huge! It was really neat to see them, and they were totally undisturbed as I snapped a million pictures from the car.
The ranch has lots of outbuildings in addition to the main house, so there is lots to check out. We wandered around looking at old tools, old tractors, old cars, and storage buildings. The ranch has a couple of root cellars too. The adobe main house was built in 1848. It had plumbing and electricity added at some point, but it is still very rustic. Not a luxury bathroom by any stretch of the imagination.
The ranch has a cook’s wagon onsite that was really interesting. I have no idea when it was built, but it was definitely loaded! It had a bed, and all sorts of cubbyholes for storing cooking supplies! It was kind of fun to think about the cook with this wagon following the cowboys around and preparing their meals while they were out of the range.
After the ranch, we went and found the trail head for the Frary Peak hike. Jon chose this hike after having driven by it on the way to the ranch, not knowing that it is the most strenuous hike on the island. We ate our picnic lunch at the trail head before heading out on the hike.
The hike starts with a fairly steep route up the hillside, so I had to take lots of rest breaks. It has fabulous views of the island, the Great Salt Lake, and the Wasatch mountains beyond. The whole hike is 3.08 miles each way, with a chance to see Bighorn Sheep near the mountain peak.
We decided not to go all the way though, because Jon didn’t want to exert himself too much just a couple of days before his half marathon. Which was fine with me, because it was a tough hike! We ended up hiking about 1.3 miles each way.
On the way down, we came across a very vocal, cute striped bird. Another hiker told me that it was a chukar. Apparently chukars are not native to the United States; they are native to Europe and the Middle East and were introduced to the U.S. as a game bird. You wouldn’t know it though, as this guy seemed well at home.
After the Frary Peak hike, we checked out the other side of the island. There is a restaurant there, where you can dine on bison burgers. It also has good access to the lake, so we walked down the metal gangway to see it close up. It was much less impressive than I expected. We did the obligatory pics with the lake and headed back to the car.
As we were driving away from the restaurant, I saw something out of the corner of my eye. I looked over and saw a Burrowing Owl! He (or she) was hanging out by the burrow, calm as could be. What a treat to see! I took many photos of that beautiful, little owl.
We wrapped up our day with a few more photos of bison, and of a beautiful Western Meadowlark, before we departed from Antelope Island.
We had a fantastic day; I would recommend it to anyone who wants a great nature experience.
Have you been to Antelope Island? What was your favorite part of your visit?