Discover Davis: 7 Reasons to Visit Antelope Island in Fall

by Alesa Larsen

Antelope Island is an urban oasis for outdoor recreation. A place where the buffalo roam, a birder’s paradise, a hiking mecca in the heart of Davis County, Utah. The state park is open year-round, but autumn brings a special magic to the island. With over 28,000 acres waiting to be explored, here are our top reasons to visit Antelope Island in fall.

1. Cooler hiking weather

If you’ve ever tried hiking to Frary Peak in summer, you know just how hot it can get along this exposed trail. A fall hike to the summit can completely change your hiking experience. At 6,596 feet, Frary Peak is the highest point on Antelope Island and has an elevation gain of 2,335 feet. The trek to the summit is worth it for the spectacular autumn views of the Great Salt Lake, Antelope Island, and the Wasatch Mountains.

2. Bike trails for every skill level

With up to 25 miles of bikeable trails, a morning ride around Antelope Island is the perfect start to any crisp fall day. Breathe in the salty air, see migrating birds and roaming buffalo, and cover more mileage on two wheels than you can on foot, including some fun mountain biking trails in the backcountry on the western side of the island. Antelope Island has bike trails for every skill level, from road biking on the paved causeway to single-track and double-track mountain bike trails. Looking for an extra assist? Book an early morning, afternoon or sunset Antelope e-Bike tour!

ebikes - reasons to visit antelope island
Photo: Antelope eBikes

3. Bridger Bay Beach

Bridger Bay Antelope Island

Located on the northern edge of Antelope Island State Park, Bridger Bay Beach’s expansive stretch of white sand is perfect for playing in the sand, getting in a great leg workout while walking the shore, or just sitting and enjoying the spectacular views of the Great Salt Lake. Best of all, fall’s cooler weather means fewer bugs while you enjoy the beach.

4. Spectacular stargazing 

As a designated International Dark Sky Park, Antelope Island is the perfect spot for catching a glimpse of the Milky Way and viewing endless stars. Stargazing is breathtaking on the west side of the island, the darkest place in Davis County. Make sure you’re on the island before the gate closes for the evening, or reserve a campsite and spend the night under the stars.

The OAS (Ogden Astronomical Society) usually hosts one dark sky viewing party a month. Check out our events page to stay updated on events and things to do on Antelope Island and events around Davis County.

Scenic Night Sky View of Antelope Island
Photo: Bettymaya Foott

5. It’s for the birds

Birds on the Water in Davis County

With more than 250 species of birds, it’s no wonder birdwatchers flock to Antelope Island for some of the best bird watching in Utah. The Great Salt Lake is an important rest and nesting stop for migrating shorebirds, and the Audubon Society calls the fall gathering of birds to Antelope Island’s 7-mile causeway “one of the great birding phenomena of the west.” During the fall migration, visitors may see ducks, grebes, gulls, various waterfowl and shorebirds. Antelope Island’s permanent winged residents include the great horned owl and barn owl, chukar, rock wren, burrowing owl, and western meadowlark. On the remote southeast side of the island, Garr Ranch is an impressive destination for Antelope Island’s resident songbirds. Don’t forget your binoculars!

6. Experience the wild side

What’s a visit to Antelope Island State Park without seeing bison? As one of the largest publicly owned bison herds in the U.S, numbering between 500 and 700, the free-roaming herd is a major draw to the island. Eagle-eyed visitors may also catch a wildlife glimpse of mule deer, coyote, bighorn sheep and, of course, pronghorn antelope. If you time your visit for the last weekend of October, you can even catch the Annual Bison Roundup, a truly western experience to behold as you observe the herd get rounded up from around the island into the corrals.

Buffalo Grazing at Antelope Island

7. Those island sunsets

sunset over frary peak
Photo: Steve Greenwood

There’s nothing – and we mean nothing – like an Antelope Island sunset. Remote and beautiful, Antelope Island is the perfect place to watch the autumn sun melt into the horizon, and an ideal backdrop for wedding photos, senior pics or a romantic date night. Two of our favorite sunset spots are Buffalo Point (an easy 1.0-mile hike) and Bridger Beach. But we won’t reserve our favor strictly for the end of the day. An Antelope Island State Park sunrise is equally breathtaking.

Frequently Asked Questions

What time is Antelope Island State Park open?

The park is open daily at 6:00 am and the gate closes at 10:00 pm. If you stay later at the park, the front gate will automatically rise when exiting the park, even if no one is at the ranger station.

Camping is available year-round, but reservations are strongly encouraged in order to secure a camping spot.

How to get to Antelope Island?

Access to Antelope Island is only available via the Davis County Causeway Road. Located just 41 minutes from Salt Lake City, and an hour and a half from Ogden – Antelope Island can be reached via W Antelope Island Road. Pay at the gate before crossing the causeway.

What hotels are near Antelope Island?

If camping isn’t in the cards for your trip to Antelope Island, we recommend staying close by in some of the great hotels in Davis County. Book your hotel and earn cashback for your next trip to Davis County!

Looking for more things to do? Discover more in Davis below.