Thursday, July 23, 2015

Bonneville Salt Flats offers unique landscape

In a state filled with beautiful, unique scenery, one famous feature fits only into the unique feature.  Whatever words you use to describe Utah's Bonneville Salt Flats, pretty isn't one of them.

The salt flats, located in western Utah near the border with Nevada, are barren and, well, just plain ugly. Little vegetation grows near its most famous section, the Bonneville Speedway, though the dynamic is different in the surrounding hills.

At one time, eons ago, Lake Bonneville covered the area. It dried up, leaving the salt. The Great Salt Lake was once part of Lake Bonneville. The high salt content is one reason vegetation doesn't grow here. Ponds and marshes that support plants and wildlife can be found around the edges of the salt flats, which in some places look like snow-covered ground.

The salt flats, located about 10 miles from Wendover, Nevada, are visible from Interstate80. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which administers the 30,000 acres, has a rest stop where travelers can walk out onto the salt flats. It also has a facility where travelers can clean the salt from their shoes before resuming their journey.

Speed Week is perhaps the most famous event associated with Bonneville Salt Flats. Hundreds of vehicles show up for the annual event in hopes of being named the fastest vehicle in their class. The crusty packed salt is ideal for this. Unfortunately, Speed Week has been cancelled the last two years because of poor surface conditions.

The movie, The World's Fastest Indian, gives a good picture of what Speed Week is all about.

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