It may seem odd, but thinking about visiting the Salt Flats was an early inspiration for this trip. Places such as the Grand Canyon seem, well… grand enough to spend a week or two of your limited vacation seeing. But the Salt Flats? Someplace I’ve always wanted to visit, but yet not high enough on the list to burn vacation and travel expenses on.
Since our adventure found us in Utah a second time, a stop at the Bonneville Salt Flats was in the cards. It was a couple hour drive from Salt Lake City, but the stop here would fall in line with moving into Nevada to visit Great Basin National Park afterwards. We missed stopping here en route to Colorado in September, and we weren’t about to let that happen yet again! 🙂
After we left the Great Salt Lake, we convoyed West a hundred miles with our friends, the Fethers. The drive was scenic, passing the Morton Salt factory, miles of salt flats, and an interesting piece of art along highway 80.
We often use the website called Campendium to find boondocking locations and we opted to try a spot a bit further from the salt flats that was supposed to offer some seclusion. We weren’t disappointed with what we found at BLM land called Silver Island Mountains. In this case, a nice road up to the location, a dry ancient lake bed, 360 views all to ourselves, and even a Verizon signal for a video conference call I had to make (note the cellular booster).
We spent a couple of nights here, took a pretty dusty trail up into and around the mountains, saw some bighorn sheep, and enjoyed getting “lost” with the Fethers. We also enjoyed some homemade turtle cheesecake (thanks, Lindsey!) while stargazing by the light of the campfire…one of Trish’s favorite memories here. However, the grand highlight for all of us was actually driving out onto the flats. They’re about 12 miles long, 5 feet thick in the center, and taper to fractions of an inch at the extremities. Leading onto the Bonneville Flats is a paved road that dead ends where the salt gets sufficiently thick. From there you can drive out onto the flats in literally any direction. There was, however, a blue line painted that served as a general center line for high speed traffic and also a handy way to find your way back to the road out.
Driving on the salt flats was a bit unnerving at first, but after making a couple passes down the center it became pretty comfortable to wind the truck up to above-highway speeds. We didn’t run it to the limit, but probably came pretty close. All of us took a turn behind the wheel. Of course, Liam and Ella don’t have their drivers licenses, so I’m sure we weren’t actually moving in these photos.
We went back on day two and picnicked about 10 miles out onto the flats where it starts to thin out. It was surreal sitting there with nothing on the landscape for miles around.
Liam made a video with Matt Fether’s drone footage of our drive out…a pretty cool memento for sure!
After our fun however, we learned there was a price to pay for our off-road adventures…salt ALL OVER the trucks! We found a high pressure car-wash across the state line in Wendover, NV and went to work trying to get the salt off the undercarriage of the truck. I’ve never seen salt caked so thick, and that’s sayin’ something being from Michigan! Despite the $18 spent to get clean, we all declared this one of the many highlights of our month-long visit to Utah.