Howdy There Kiddo!
People call me “the Lake” but my real name is Great Salt, the Great Salt Lake to be exact. I call the best state in the nation home; after all, Utah is one of the only places where you can go sailing and skiing on the same day!
I am a remnant of ancient Lake Bonneville and during my glory days of the Great Ice Age, I was HUGE! Literally HUGE! I measured in at 19,800 square miles, making me the largest Late Pleistocene paleolake in the Great Basin. About 30,000 years ago, I began to retreat and that’s when people started calling me, the Great Salt Lake. I left my mark though. If you look toward the Wasatch Front you can see where my waves etched terraces into the mountainside.
I’m still a pretty big deal! I am the largest lake west of the Mississippi. I am fed water from three tributaries upstream; the Bear, Jordan, and Weber rivers but there aren’t any rivers flowing out, away from my shoreline. I’m a terminal lake and what water I receive from the rivers eventually evaporates leaving behind trace minerals and lots of salt.
I’m much too salty for fish to survive and yet I am home to millions of tiny salt-loving single-cell organisms and brine shrimp. The water in my north arm - did I mention I had arms? Well, kind of anyway. I have four regions that people often describe as arms. So, the north arm. The water here is eight times saltier than the ocean, and it appears PINK – like pink lemonade – because of the pigments in these salt-lovers cells.
Within my arms, I hold many islands, animals, sand, and salt. Gunnison Island has been a sanctuary and home to the American White Pelican for decades. Most of the wetlands in Utah are along my eastern shoreline where millions of birds stopover for lunch and to take a nap during their annual migration from Alaska to Patagonia. Antelope Island, an International Dark Sky Park, is another remarkable location where they actively conserve its darkness.
And did I mention that I make my own sand? My sand is called oolitic sand and it is found in only a couple of other places on the planet. It has a nucleus – often brine shrimp poop – which is covered by a layer of calcium carbonate and then rolled along the lake bottom by my waves gradually accumulating layers.
These are just some of the awesome things that I hold in my arms. I like to think that I draw people to me like a magnet for a variety of recreational experiences and adventures. Hopefully to enjoy what John Muir called "one of the great views on the American Continent" and perhaps Utah’s best-kept secret.
See you at the lake, kid!