Bonneville salt flats, Otherwise know as Bonneville Speedway is the famous auto racing arena, where enthusiasts from all over the world travel to Utah desert to put their auto builds into speed test. Not just that, its also a renowned spot for filming and photography. You might have seen it in many movies, magazines and auto shows. Wanna know why its so famous? All because of its peculiar white landscape that doesn’t let any living organism to thrive. 30,000 acre of just salt everywhere.
How it formed?
Its formation dates back to the end of ice age. Once upon a time, this used to be the ancient lake Bonneville (15000 yrs ago) same as the size of Lake Michigan. The huge fresh water reserve slowly receded over thousands of years and the minerals deposited over the soil hardened to form thick layer of salt. Now it’s perfectly flat covering 46 sq miles with thick crust of salt, comprising 90% common salt. So cool isn’t it?!!
According to the Bureau of Land Management, the crust is almost 5 feet thick near the center with the depth tapering off to less than 1 inch as you get to the edges. Total salt crust volume has been estimated at 147 million tons or 99 million cubic yards of salt.
During summer, the land is very dry and hard. Thus, allowing to be large flat stretch for speed racing. It has attracted many speed racers from all over the world to test their machines. During other months, the land has stagnant water from the rains that makes it unstable and unsafe to walk or drive on them.
How to get here:
Bonneville is free and open for public. But during event days, the public can watch the event with entrance fee. Take exit 4 from Interstate 80 in Utah. Drive north on Leppey pass road and take right on Bonneville speedway road. Continue for about 4 miles until you see the BLM sign board. You can park here and enjoy. Unfortunately, when we visited, the land had 2 to 3 inches water and was a bit slippery to walk.
If you want to drive on the salt flats, you have to be very cautious and follow the travel advisory. When the salt flats is hard & dry, it is ok to drive provided you have thoroughly inspected your path. Once you make it out, clean the vehicle under-body with fresh water to avoid corrosion damage. If the land has water or soft, then its very slippery and greater chance for your vehicle to get struck. If you are driving a rental car then make sure to check with your rental company. Because, most of the rental companies charge extra or don’t allow going off-road.
Recommended resource : Bureau of Land Management
Bonneville salt flats from different perspective:
After spending some time here in the midst of salt, we started to wonder about those mountains you see at distance. View from those mountain peaks to this vast 30,000 acre salt land must be much more different and spectacular. Just then we remembered the gravel road leading into the mountains when we came into the flats. Naturally, we had to check it out!
If you have more time and up for a back country offroading with no people around you, then we highly recommend to take this Silver island loop road. This loop road takes you around the series of Silver mountains through Utah’s great basin. While driving through that road, you will also find more untouched salt lands on your left that is hidden.
SILVER ISLAND LOOP ROAD (54 miles)
Well, not just that! You will also find number of small auto trails (gravel path) deviating from the silver loop road that leads close to the mountains and climbs up at little. We drove as much as we can get close to the top of Volcano peak and then hiked up. It lead us to breathtaking views of the salt flats from mountain top. 😎 Be ready to spot some wild natives along your way.🐇🐐🐍🐞🐲🐜.
Things you should know
Definitely need a high clearance, AWD/4×4 vehicle and experienced driver if you plan to drive through these trails.
Roads are pretty rough and are unpredictable. It can be unpassable during bad weather.
Carry lots of water, food, snacks, spare tire, first aid kit and flexible outerwears. Its scorching hot during summer with above 100 deg F and below freezing in winter.
NO cellphone coverage.
Don’t deviate from the designated routes for your own safety.
The views from higher altitude overlooking the salt flats is truly astonishing but watch your step while you climb the mountain rocks.
Camping/overnight parking is not allowed in Bonneville salt flats. But allowed to camp along the back country byway. Travel and camp leaving no trace.
Don’t disturb the wildlife
Camera gears – Have fun!