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Traveling west on I-80 heading out of town you run smack dab into the largest salt lake in the western hemisphere and the fourth largest in the world. Not as salty as the Dead Sea, but still 3-7 times saltier than the ocean it is also a dead sea of sorts. The only thing that lives in it are brine shrimp. The bays and inlets of the lake however are essential to migrating birds and it can be a great bird watching location
The best place to visit it is Antelope Island State Park. But for those who want a quick look or are heading west it is easier to see from the Great Salt Lake marina. Or from Saltair, a concert venue.
The original Saltair was built in the 1890's and there was a train that would bring people out to the pavilion. That one burned. The current building was built in the late 1970's just in time for the floods of the '80's to surround it and doom it's hopeful resurgence. There are concerts held out there now of new or up and coming artists. If you go during the day you can park for free and walk the long way out to the water. There is a small gift shop.
The Great Salt Lake Marina is a State Park and as such has a charge. There is a nice restroom with changing rooms and showers. Mostly a place for sailboats and all that goes with them, but no commercial trips. There is also a nice look out to the lake. The beach which used to be popular in the summer has basically been abandoned.
Updated Mar 4, 2011
They say the name came from a miner who posted the name on a board 100 yrs ago. Tradition keeps it spelled his way.
The 1 mile trail to this alpine glacial lake begins at the end of the Little Cottonwood road at 9,000 ft elevation and climbs about 450 ft. There are several other hikes in the area, including the Catherine Pass hike over to Big Cottonwood canyon.
I love Cecret lake, maybe because the hike isn't too long, maybe because it isn't too steep, absolutely because it goes through those wonderful alpine meadows which burst to life for a few short weeks in July/Aug with wildflowers and partly from nostalgia as this was once truly a secret place where few came...you needed a sturdy car to drive up the 3 mile dirt road, and you could usually get a camp spot if you came early enough in the day. Now the road is paved and the camping is booked before the season even begins.
It is still good to come to Cecret Lake, if you are lucky you can see moose and marmot on the trail and salamanders in shallow spots in the lake. I love to come with a lunch and a book and enjoy the cool mountain air for a day or afternoon.
Updated Mar 4, 2011
In the winter Albion basin is full of the "Greatest Snow on Earth" and skiers can schush in powder to their hearts content.
In the summer it becomes an alpine jewel. The Albion Basin is an old glacial cirque left behind when the world warmed and the Little Cottonwood glacier melted. At its most extended the glacier was Utah's largest, traveling 12 miles from the top of the canyon and ending in Lake Bonneville where it would have calved icebergs. From 450 to 850 ft deep it did serious erosion in the canyon making it the typical glacial U-shape.
Glacial landscape is easily seen in the canyon with hanging valleys, where waterfalls appear with snow melt, and the jagged and sharp arretes and horns such as the Pfieferhorn, and terminal and lateral morraines.
In the summer the herbs take over and cover the upper canyon in green, with lupine, columbine, indian paintbrush, pentstemon, bluebells, larkspur, primrose, geranium, gilia, wood rose, thimbleberry, monkeyflowers and more adding colors of purple, yellow, pink, white and blue. The 3 mile Albion basin road zigs zags for abit and then heads south to the upper basin ending at 9,000ft elevation and a much coveted campground and picnic area.
There is parking there for the Cecret Lake and Catherine Pass trails, but on the busy summer weekends it gets much too crowded and shuttles originating back at the Sunnyside parking area have been instituted to provide more parking.
Written Mar 4, 2011
Every afternoon and evening, I walked up by the convention center with these windmills along the front. I don't know if they were functional or decorative. By the time we got here in 2010, the Convention Center was finished (photos 3 and 4)
Sometimes I saw conventioneers with name tags going in for some type of show. Sometimes they were in evening dresses - I assume going to a dinner or dance or some formal function.
The area in front of the hotel and to the side of the convention center was a construction site with heaps of dirt in 1999 (photo 5)
Updated Aug 8, 2010
Located in about the center of the Salt Lake Valley, this beautiful and historic farm has been lovingly preserved as an example of a typical county farm about the turn of the 20th century.
Built in 1886 and owned by Henry J Wheeler who ran a dairy farm, all the main components of an old farm are here. First is the wonderful old home. So beautifully restored one can imagine living in it right now. But having to empty the chamber pots was probably the least enjoyed chore that would have needed to be done.
Out back is the old ice pond and house. No refrigeration so they would chop ice out of the pond, put it in the ice house where it could stay cold and cool down the food stored there through most of the summer.
Further back is the blacksmith shop, tool shed and root cellar.
There is also the Milking barn, where if you come at the right time you can try your hand at the chores of milking the cows or feeding the chickens.
At the back is the milk house where the milk would be separated and readied for transport to the consumer.
The farm is next to the Little Cottonwood Creek which can get pretty full during spring runoff.
A large activity barn has been built to handle parties, weddings, family gatherings etc. We've also had picnics on the grounds. I notice now they have a camping area, not sure who gets to stay there.
Updated Jul 20, 2010
This amusement park began its life over a century ago. It has survived and grown over the years offering a variety of activities. Though not on par with any of the great amusement parks in the rest of the country it is a great place to spend a day. It is the only amusement park available between Denver and the west coast so plenty of people from outside the Salt Lake area come as well.
When we go we usually begin at the pool, called Lagoon-a-Beach. This is the perfect place to be on a hot afternoon. With a lazy river, several water slides and kiddie water play area there is enough to entertain for a couple hours.
Then on to the rides. The park makes a point of adding new rides every year. The last couple years they have been upgrading the kiddie rides. But they still have my personal favorite from when I was young enough to ride it, "Bulgy the Whale".
"Colossus" and "Wicked" are the newest wildest. The wooden "Roller Coaster" still holding its own as a wild and crazy experience. The "Ferris Wheel" is huge and gives great views, especially at sunset.
At the back of the park is a western theme area with the second best ride "Rattlesnake Rapids", a mock white water ride on which you WILL get wet. In that area is the Pioneer Village with stores in original log cabins gathered from around the state.
The paddle boats out on the lagoon are gone, but there is a train ride around it that helps the legs relax for awhile. Wild animals are on view, not without some controversy about their living conditions.
There are a couple rides for which there is an extra charge. The "Sky Coaster" a huge swing, the "Catapault", a shot into the air, and the "Top Eliminator", a drag race. They are usually felt to be worth the extra money. They also give reserved time units so you don't wait in line for them.
Then it is time for dinner. There are plenty of pavilions to use. Some are reserved for groups but if they are not you can bring in your own picnics in coolers to eat at the tables or grassy areas. If you don't have your own food there are food stands throughout the park.
At night the water rides shut down and it is time for some of the other activities. There are all the midway games to try, lots of stuffed animals to win. Take a ride on the "Merry Go Round", with carved wooden horses still from the original ride. There are several live entertainment stages with mediocre talent that nevertheless manage to get you swaying in your seats to the beat. Then time for one more ride on any of the many options. Things don't die down till around midnight so lots of time to enjoy the quiet summer nights.
It is a fun place and a summer tradition.
Written Jul 20, 2010
About an hours drive south of downtown a visitor can drive up the side of the mountain and into the heart of the largest man-made excavation on earth.
In 1848, the second year of settlement in the Salt Lake Valley Thomas and Sanford Bingham came to the canyon now given their name. They planned to ranch.
In 1863 soldiers stationed at Ft Douglas during the Civil War went out looking for lead ore for their bullets. They found what they needed in Bingham Canyon and Utah's first mining district was established.
Copper was found soon after. The copper was good quality, but it is a low grade deposit - a ton of ore contains only about 10 pounds of copper. It was not financially feasible to mine it traditionally. in 1893 Daniel Jackling and Robert Gemmell (whose names bytheway have not found their way into any modern Utah building, monument or consciousness) developed the idea of an open pit mine that would extract the ore on a large scale that would allow them to make it worth their while.
Over one hundred years later the earth is still giving up its riches to the miners. Over the years it has produced about 18 million tons! of copper, more than any other mine. That open-pit is now 3/4 of a mile deep and over 2 1/2 miles across. It is mind boggling to look at. In the early morning dynamite buried 55 feet deep will be ignited to loosen the overburden. All day long the 70 huge trucks with tires over 12 feet high, will carry 300 tons each trip of the barren rock from the mine to the slag heap, while the ore will go to the hugh in-pit crusher.
Copper is not the only metal found here. Gold, Silver and Molybdenum in minute quantities (that add up to quite a bit) are extracted in the final stages of the copper refining.
According to literature available at the entrance a typical new home contains about 500 pounds of copper- in wiring, plumbing and brass fixtures. It is also found in cars, computers, telephones and other modern electrical appliances.
They also say that the amount of copper used by the US mint in 1999 to make all the coins would require 41 days to produce at Kennecott.
Visitors are allowed of course only in a limited spot. The visitors center has a nice plaza overlooking the mine where it is possible to watch the trucks and giant shovels working. Inside is a good movie explaining the process and a museum of interesting facts figures, metal samples, refining process video etc.
Next door is a gift shop operated by the Lions Club where you can find plenty of copper items (they don't say whether the copper was mined at Kennecott, but one would hope so).
On a recent trip there I spend an hour and felt a little rushed.
Updated Jul 6, 2010
The visitor center has some great information about the Great Salt Lake, the island, the early inhabitants, hikes, activities, a movie, etc. It is a good place to get started on a first visit to the park.
Written Jul 4, 2010
Antelope Island was named by John Fremont and Kit Carson during an exploration to the Utah desert in 1845. They observed and killed some Antelope (more correctly Pronghorn) and grateful for the meat named the island in honor. The antelope disappeared after awhile, perhaps due to over hunting. When the State Park was opened in 1981 returning the namesake antelope was one of the priorities. Reintroduced in 1993, today they are fairly plentiful and easy to see.
In 1893 Mr John Dooley introduced 12 buffalo to the island in a commercial venture. They have prospered and the herd has grown and now there is a yearly fall roundup to count, innoculate and cull the herd. For awhile they were one of the only free ranging herds in the US. They are also one of the oldest known herds and are valued for their genetic properties.
Written Jul 4, 2010
Antelope Island is the largest island in the Great Salt Lake. For many years it was a ranch, before the State bought it out. There are primitive campgrounds, hikes, a visitors center, a beach, bird watching, buffalo roundups, and wagon rides at the old ranch home. It is the best place to try out floating in the salty waters of the lake, but be prepared for a long walk to water that is deep enough and being covered with salt and brine shrimp (the only thing that lives in the water) after you're done. There are showers available at the beach.
Updated Jul 4, 2010
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