Everything You Need To Know Before Visiting The Bonneville Salt Flats | Kidadl


Everything You Need To Know Before Visiting The Bonneville Salt Flats

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The Bonneville Salt Flats are undoubtedly one of the most naturally formed vistas in the world that attracts thousands of tourists every year for their interminable landscape.

Located about 120 miles from Salt Lake City, the splendid Bonneville Salt Flats are present in the northwestern desert plains of Utah. The lively city of Nevada is located just a few miles away from it.

This salt flat stretches over 30,000 acres with a unique environment. The surreal landscape made of salt crust with a thickness of almost 5 ft (1.5m) falls along the I-80 near the border of Utah-Nevada and Wendover. No vegetation is found here, and the entire area looks just like a frozen lake bed.

Low hills are present intermittently. Heatwaves from the large portions of salt soil give rise to mirages that look stunningly real. An estimation of 147 million tons of salt makes up the flats, of which about 90% is sodium chloride, which is the common salt.

Apart from the scenic view it provides, the Bonneville Salt Flats are also popular for car racing. The western portion near Wendover holds the well-known Bonneville Speedway. Countless speed records are made here, including the 630 mph (1013.8 kph) one-time land speed record in the year 1970. This record was broken much later in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada.

Keep on reading to explore some more fascinating facts about the Bonneville Salt Flats.

If you liked reading this article, then do check out Salt Lake City lake and the saltwater ocean here on Kidadl.

Bonneville Salt Flats

This salt land was once a part of the largest palaeolake, Lake Bonneville, of the Late Pleistocene epoch. Due to rapid climate change about 14,500 years ago, the lake started to dry up, leaving a few small-sized lakes, which have a high concentration of salts. One of the popular lakes, the Great Salt Lake, is situated to the west of Salt Lake City.

The western part of the Great Salt Lake has a width of about 3 mi (5 km) with an extended length of 12 mi (19 km) and contains extremely high salt concentrations, which can suffice a whole lot of American households. Pressure ridges are present on some parts of the ground, which are hexagonal-shaped slabs and create a strikingly beautiful topography to cherish.

Many people claim that this region was secretly in use by the US Government, which tested the nuclear bombs that were launched at Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the Second World War. Plenty of bomber planes, including the notorious Enola Gay, were once present in the military base near Wendover.

The prehistoric Lake Bonneville, which formed at the end of the ice age, once filled most of the Great Basin. With the increased rate of evaporation, salts deposited over time with the formation of thin salt crust on the surface that gradually became thick with more salt deposits. The remnant of this once massive lake is the Great Salt Lake.

There is a network of roads that run through the Bonneville Salt Flats, some of which end up in remote places with no access to any kind of services. The high salt content does not allow vegetation to grow, and as a result, most of the areas are totally desolate. The fragile surface of the flats is well-protected by the federal government, and strict rules are established for public use of the land.

Best Time To Visit Bonneville Salt Flats

Although the Bonneville Salt Flats in north Utah is open all year round, the best time to visit is during summer and spring, when countless speed records are made on this site. Tourists plan the camping trip on this site all throughout the year. Several events take place in the summer months. The age-old tradition of racing in Speed Week starts in August every year at the Bonneville International Speedway.

Among several other events, the Endurance Run is quite popular, which includes a 100 mi (160.9 km) run in the month of May. The National Flight Championships conducted by the National Archery Association also take place around this time. Although these months are popular among the masses in California, one must be mindful of the occasional rainstorms and high temperatures during the summer months. The wet surface due to the afternoon rainfalls often forms pools of mud, which makes it difficult to walk on the edges. Due to the humidity, many people also plan the salt flats trip during the winter months as well. The snow-covered land imparts a splendid view to the visitors. Camping in Bonneville, Utah, is particularly popular among the youths. However, strict camping rules are made by the Government in order to preserve the salt flats.

A shallow layer of rainwater gets accumulated on the Bonneville Salt Flats, which creates illusions.

Getting To Bonneville Salt Flats

Located in northwestern Utah, the salt flats are not far away from Nevada, and the nearest major city is Salt Lake City. It takes about two hours and sometimes a little more to reach the salt flats from this region. There are three other directions for the people traveling by cars.

The Salt flats International Speedway, which is surrounded by racing tracks, is an easy route for vehicles to reach the desert. A vehicle from the east can reach here from Wendover. The vehicles traveling from the west can get here from Salt Lake City. Often, a visitor is seen to park his car and cherish the panoramic view of the salt flats in the east and the west. One can also visit the restrooms present here and can safely park their vehicle.

When we peek into the past, the Great Basin has always been inhabited by humans. These Great Salt Lake desert regions were explored by many mountain men, including Jim Bridger, in 1824. However, the first crossing was recorded by the survey party of Captian John C. Fremont, along with Joe Walker and Kit Carson. Walker recorded in his journals not to cross the untried paths that would result in losing navigation. But, the crew of Donner-Reed in 1846 tried to take a shortcut to California. As a result, their entire journey got delayed with abundant loss of oxen, and four of their wagons were stuck in the mud present underneath the salt crust. Much later, in 1910, the first crossing was built in the Bonneville salt flats that linked Salt Lake City and San Francisco.

The Largest Salt Flat In The World

Although the Bonneville Salt Flat, Utah, is the largest in the US, the Salar de Uyuni is the largest salt flat in the whole world. It is considered by many to be one of the most spectacular vistas on Earth and is present in Bolivia.

Several prehistoric lakes evaporated to make this a salt flat, which covers an extensive stretch of 4,050 sq. miles (10,500 sq. km). It is the primary breeding ground for the flamingos and is also a popular shooting location in America.

Bonneville Salt Flat Biodiversity

Due to the extreme salinity of the land, vegetation is scanty. The shallow pools of water host a plethora of invertebrates. These are preyed upon by several species of shorebirds, including the Snowy Plovers.

The salt flats are also a nesting ground for many endangered bird species, including the Least Terns and American Avocets. These birds dig out small sand cups in the salt flats and camouflage their eggs to save them from predation.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for salt flats then why not take a look at saltwater biome facts or the saltiest lake in the world?

The Kidadl Team is made up of people from different walks of life, from different families and backgrounds, each with unique experiences and nuggets of wisdom to share with you. From lino cutting to surfing to children’s mental health, their hobbies and interests range far and wide. They are passionate about turning your everyday moments into memories and bringing you inspiring ideas to have fun with your family.

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