Photograph the Bonneville Salt Flats

Added by Sam Watson

Incredibly unique scenery. Easily accessible (~122 miles from Salt Lake City). Terrific, unobstructed stargazing.

The Bonneville Salt Flats are unlike anywhere else in the world. Imagine a brilliantly white landscape so flat that you can see the curvature of the earth, coupled with distant mountain peaks rising in the distance. This alien world is one of the most incredible destinations Utah has to offer, and it is accessible right from the comfort of your car.

The Bonneville Salt Flats are located just north of I-80, and just on the Utah side of the Utah/Nevada border. After driving west on I-80 from Salt Lake City for about 122 miles, you will see signs for a turn-off to the Bonneville Speedway. This turn leads to a road that ends in a cul-de-sac on the southern border of the Salt Flats. From there, park and adventure into this bizarre landscape to your heart's content.

Cars are allowed on the Salt Flats, but beware. Some areas are stable and supportable to drive on, but others are a deceptively thin layer of salt over vehicle-stopping mud. The salt surface also corrodes the metal on vehicles very quickly. The Salt Flats are a harsh and desolate landscape, be sure to have ample water and sunscreen. Hats and sunglasses are a must. Never venture out of sight of your car or other directional landmark, either. Getting turned around in a featureless, white land is easier than one would think. Storms can roll in unexpectedly as well, bringing high winds and torrential rain. Photographic opportunities can become amazing after a rain storm. A thin layer of water will cover the salt, turning the whole landscape into a giant mirror. At night, the stars become spectacular. The Salt Flats are far enough away from Salt Lake City to be free of its light pollution. Twilight and night time photography opportunities are one-of-a-kind. Overnight stays are possible on the Salt Flats, but make sure you have a thick tarp to put under your sleeping area to avoid salt residue.

Several times a year, the Bonneville Salt Flats are home to the fastest cars and motorcycles in the world. "Speed Week", as it is called, is a series of landspeed-record-breaking races over the course of a week, several times per year. During these times, the Salt Flats become infested with the buzzing of engines and those looking to see the world's fastest vehicles. Those seeking quiet and solitude on the Salt Flats should check ahead of time, and plan their adventure when these races are not happening.

The nearby town of Wendover, Nevada, has all the amenities one could wish for. Grab a bite to eat there before beginning the two hour drive back to Salt Lake City.

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Camping
Photography
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🥈 Contributor

about 3 years ago

Otherworldly!

This destination makes you feel like you're on another planet. The scene is simple and SO photogenic.

Explorer

🥇Top Contributor

about 4 years ago

Absolutely incredible!

We drove out from SLC to the Bonneville Salt Flats first thing in the morning - what a wonder! It is quite mesmerizing. You can actually access the salt flats by parking at the large designated parking lot in the rest area when exiting I-80 West.

Gorgeous Overcast Day

I had no clue I could experience the beauty of salt flat fields without traveling to South America (Bolivia) and without freezing my buns off too! The Bonneville Salt Flats are right outside Salt Lake City about 1-2 hour drive. I drove out past the Salt Flats Cafe at the tricky stop along I-80 and walked out pretty far to snap a few photos. It was mostly overcast and just lovely. At the end I couldn't help but drive out on them as I could see several tracks where people drive out on them. My Honda Element did fine though I didn't slow down in the soft parts! It was a blast. I'd love to go back.

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