16 November 2021
Discover Antelope Island in Fall
by Miri Gubler with Discover Davis
Antelope Island is a strange and magical place situated in our Great Salt Lake with roaming bison, migrating birds, and dark, starry skies right in the heart of Davis!
It offers adventures for every type of amusement seeker, and with 28,000 acres of playable and explorable land, this is a must-see stop for anyone and everyone! The state park is open year-round, but autumn is a magical time to visit the Island, and here are our top 5 reasons to visit Antelope Island in fall.
1. Cooler Weather
You might’ve noticed a lack of trees on the island which means no shaded hiking trails that we have on the other side of our county in the Wasatch. That exposure can make summer hiking less enjoyable and we like to get out on Antelope’s trails in the fall and winter.
The thing we love most about the cooler weather? No bugs! You’ve probably heard horror stories of the bugs on Antelope Island and heeded warnings from internet reviews or loved ones who have insisted you wait until the bugs are gone. You’ve probably even heard of the annual spider festival that takes place on the Island every August. Well, rest easy fellow arachnophobiacs, fall is here and is relatively bug-free.
2. Adventure Options for Every Skill Level
Biking: 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. Antelope Island has bike trails for every skill level, from road biking on the paved causeway to singletrack and double-track mountain bike trails. Looking for an extra assist? Book an early morning, afternoon or sunset Antelope e-Bike tour!
Hiking: Frary Peak is the highest peak on Antelope Island and one of our bucket list hikes here in Davis. It has an elevation gain of 2,335 feet but the trek to the summit is worth it for spectacular views of the Great Salt Lake, Antelope Island, and the Wasatch Mountains.
Kayaking,: This is the perfect way to experience the beauty and wonder of the Great Salt Lake. The Great Salt Lake is the largest saltwater lake in the western hemisphere and is one of the most asked about destinations in Utah. The salinity of the water averages about 12%, making it much saltier than the ocean. The water is so buoyant that you can easily float and is a unique experience you can’t find anywhere else. The Great Salt Lake’s water is calm and vast. Once you launch out onto the water, you’ll instantly fall in love with the serenity of this beautiful lake. Launch at the marina or Bridger Bay.
Horseback Riding: Horseback riding is another fun way to experience the island but appointments need to be scheduled ahead of time with Rhodes Valley Outfitters.
3. Campfires & Constellations
Camp at Bridger Bay Campground: Located on the northern edge of Antelope Island State Park, Bridger Bay beach has an expansive stretch of white sand that 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.
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 (always double-check when the gate to the park will close!)
Birding: With more than 250 species of birds, it’s no wonder birdwatchers flock to Antelope Island for some of the best birdwatching 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, and various waterfowl. Antelope Island’s permanent winged residents include the great horned owl and barn owl, chukar, rock wren, 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!
Bison: 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. Visitors may also catch a wildlife glimpse of mule deer, coyote, bighorn sheep and, of course, pronghorn antelope. If you visit in late October, you can even catch the annual Bison Roundup!
5. Sunrise & Sunset
There’s 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 Frary Peak 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.