Great Salt Lake, Utah, USA

Also known as:  America's Dead Sea

Sometimes called “America’s Dead Sea,” the Great Salt Lake occupies approximately 1,700 square miles of Utah’s real estate. It is the second largest lake (by surface area) that is wholly contained within the USA; only Lake Michigan is larger. Great Salt Lake boasts the USA’s longest lake shoreline – about 10,000 miles. Great Salt Lake is the largest remnant of the prehistoric Lake Bonneville, and has a salinity much higher – READ THE FULL ARTICLE

Welcome to the ultimate guide to Great Salt Lake! Article topics include:

Looking for Great Salt Lake cabins or other accommodations? Save time and use this interactive map to find, compare and book at the best rates. Or explore more of our favorite travel partners.

Welcome to the ultimate guide to Great Salt Lake! Article topics include:

Looking for Great Salt Lake cabins or other accommodations? Save time and use this interactive map to find, compare and book at the best rates. Or explore more of our favorite travel partners.

All About Great Salt Lake

Sometimes called “America’s Dead Sea,” the Great Salt Lake occupies approximately 1,700 square miles of Utah’s real estate. It is the second largest lake (by surface area) that is wholly contained within the USA; only Lake Michigan is larger. Great Salt Lake boasts the USA’s longest lake shoreline – about 10,000 miles.

Great Salt Lake is the largest remnant of the prehistoric Lake Bonneville, and has a salinity much higher (saltier) than ocean water. Despite its nickname, however, the lake is home to many species of flora, fauna and lake life, and welcomes many tourists to its shores every year.

The ancient Lake Bonneville was a huge mass of water, about as large as Lake Michigan and much deeper at about 1,000 feet. During the climate change after the Great Ice Age, the lake began to dry up and create smaller lakes, including today’s Great Salt Lake, which today averages a maximum depth of about 33 feet.

The lake is fed by three major rivers — Bear River, Weber River and the Jordan River — but has no outlet except evaporation. This great aquatic wonder has long been a major feature of the region, and lent its name to what is now known as Salt Lake City.

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Water levels in the Great Salt Lake vary by the amount of rainfall and the rate of evaporation, reaching a high depth of 45 feet in 1987 and a low depth of 24 feet in 2021.

Many islands dot the lake, although the exact number depends on the water level. According to the Utah Geological Survey, there are 11 islands with 7 in the southern part of the lake and 4 in the northwestern portion.

The whole of Gunnison Island is the Gunnison Island State Wildlife Management Area. Public access is prohibited because the island is an important rookery for the American White Pelican. Antelope Island, the largest, is home to Antelope Island State Park, which is accessible by a causeway. Pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep, American bison, and waterfowl make their home on Antelope Island.

The Lucin Cutoff is a 30-mile railroad causeway operated by the Union Pacific Railroad that crosses the center of the Great Salt Lake, connecting Ogden and Lucin. The high water levels during the 1980s threatened the causeway, highways, and sewage treatment plants around the lake. The State of Utah built the West Desert Pumping Project to drain excess water into the Great Salt Lake Desert to the west, creating the Newfoundland Evaporation Basin. Although the pumps are not currently in operation, the state maintains them for future use.

One of the lake’s greatest attractions is its wildlife, which is varied and vast. Though the lake itself cannot support many species due to its high salinity, it is home to brine shrimp, brine flies, and several forms of algae.

Off-water, freshwater and saltwater wetlands offer refuge to millions of migratory shorebirds and waterfowl each year, including phalarope, avocet, stilt, gulls, falcon, bald eagles, swans, pelicans, and many more.

Bird watchers will enjoy the lake’s offerings, scouting out familiar species and those unknown to their eyes. In fact, there are numerous private duck clubs, several state waterbird management areas and a federal bird refuge at the Great Salt Lake, allowing for hunting as well as waterfowl protection.

When at the Great Salt Lake, you owe to yourself to go for a swim. Since the water averages about 12% saline, floating is easier than almost anywhere else on earth, and entire afternoons can be spent watching fluffy clouds pass by.

White-sand beaches sprinkle the lake’s shores, and families, sunbathers, and picnickers often flock to these beautiful spots for a bit of sun and refreshing swimming.

Antelope Island State Park offers a great starting point, with a beautiful beach and access to the sparkling lake waters. Head out sailing from Antelope Island Marina or Great Salt Lake Marina, taking advantage of healthy winds and nearly perfect days. Investigate Antelope Island’s diverse wildlife, and enjoy excellent bird watching and island’s colorful indigenous flora.

Boating on the lake is another favorite pastime, and during the summer months, the lake’s blue acres are populated by speed boats, pontoon boats, sailboats, kayaks, and canoes, all sharing in a bit of Great Salt Lake fun. In addition, wakeboarders, water skiers, kneeboarders, and tubers all trail behind motorboats.

Summer at the lake is filled with hiking, mountain biking, sightseeing, golf, and any activity you can dream up. During winter, the lake’s focus shifts to downhill skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, ice skating, snowmobiling, and old-fashioned snowman construction.

Year-round, the area offers delicious cuisine, several museums, art galleries, luxurious spas, and wonderful shopping, all promising to fill your time here with many amusements.

The Great Salt Lake is a beautiful blue jewel cut into the Utah landscape, offering visitors and residents miles of coastline to explore and a beautiful landscape ripe with quiet spots for enjoyment and award-winning photo ops. A visit here will enliven your senses and relax your mind, making you wish you could stay forever.

Things to Do at Great Salt Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Water Skiing
  • Wakeboarding
  • Parasailing
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Ice Skating
  • Biking
  • Downhill Skiing
  • Snowboarding
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Park
  • Museum
  • Shopping

All About Great Salt Lake

Best hotels and vacation rentals at Great Salt Lake

The Great Salt Lake map shown above is a simple and stress-free way to search for trip accommodations. But if you want to take a deeper dive to find the ideal waterfront home, cabin, condo, hotel or resort, visit our favorite lodging partners by clicking the buttons below.

Note: These are affiliate links so we may earn a small commission if you book through them. While there is no extra cost to you, it helps provide resources to keep our site running (thank you)! You can read our full disclosure policy here.


More Ways to Book a Great Salt Lake Vacation

While our interactive map above is perfect for comparing LAKENAME rental homes (with VRBO) and nearby hotels (with Booking.com), there might be times when you need to expand your search with a different type of accommodation. Here are some other LAKNAME lodging partners you might want to explore:

Check TripAdvisor
Explore RV Rentals
Find a Campspot
View All Resources

Note: These are affiliate links and we may earn a small commission. Read our full disclosure policy here.


More Sites to Book a Great Salt Lake Vacation

Our interactive lodging map shown above is perfect for comparing LAKENAME VRBO rental homes and nearby Booking.com hotels, there are times when you need to expand your search for different types of accommodation. Here are some other LAKNAME lodging partners you can explore:

Check TripAdvisor
Explore RV Rentals
Find a Campspot
View All Resources

Note: These are affiliate links and we may earn a small commission. Read our disclosure policy here.


More Sites to Book a Great Salt Lake Vacation

Our interactive lodging map shown above is perfect for comparing LAKENAME VRBO rental homes and nearby Booking.com hotels, there are times when you need to expand your search for different types of accommodation. Here are some other LAKNAME lodging partners you can explore:

Check TripAdvisor
Explore RV Rentals
Find a Campspot
View All Resources

Note: These are affiliate links and we may earn a small commission. Read our disclosure policy here.


Recommended Sites to Book a Great Salt Lake Vacation

If you want to take a deeper dive to find waterfront lake cabins, cottages, condos, hotels or resorts, check out our favorite Great Salt Lake lodging partners.

  • VRBO – Use VRBO to find the perfect lake rental home, condo, cabin, cottage or other vacation property.
  • Booking.com – One of the world’s leading digital travel companies, Booking.com connects travelers to everything from cozy B&Bs to luxury resorts.
  • Expedia – Expedia is a popular online travel agency with more than 140,000 lodging properties worldwide.
  • Hotels.com – With more than 325,000 hotels in 19,000-plus locations, Hotels.com is an industry leader in online accommodations.
  • TripAdvisor – Read traveler reviews and compare prices on hotels, vacation rentals and more at TripAdvisor.
  • Trivago – Trivago helps travelers compare deals for hotels and other accommodations from a variety of booking sites.
  • KAYAK – KAYAK scours hundreds of other travel websites at once to find the best deals on hotels and other travel-related services.
  • RVshare –RVshare connects travelers interested in renting a motorhome with owners who have RVs to rent.
  • CampSpot – Campspot offers premier RV resorts, family campgrounds, cabins and glamping options across North America.
ALL TRAVEL RESOURCES

Note: These are affiliate links so we may earn a small commission if you book through them. While there is no extra cost to you, it helps provide resources to keep our site running (thank you)! You can read our full disclosure policy here.

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Lake Type: Natural Saltwater Lake, Not Dammed

Water Level Control: State of Utah

Surface Area: 1,088,000 acres

Shoreline Length: 10,000 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 4,200 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 4,185 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 4,212 feet

Average Depth: 14 feet

Maximum Depth: 33 feet

Water Volume: 28,000,000 acre-feet

Drainage Area: 21,500 sq. miles

We strive to keep the information on LakeLubbers as accurate as possible. However, if you’ve found something in this article that needs updating, we’d certainly love to hear from you! Please fill out our Content Correction form.

More Great Salt Lake news from LakeLubbers.com

  • Advertise your vacation rental property or local business: DETAILS HERE
  • The Great Salt Lake forum has been discontinued: HERE’S WHY
  • New Great Salt Lake photos coming soon!
  • You’re invited to join our lake-lovin’ community on Facebook and Instagram!
  • Share this Great Salt Lake article with your fellow LakeLubbers:

Do you have a vacation rental property at Great Salt Lake? Coming in 2022, LakeLubbers will have an opportunity for you to showcase your listing and put it in front of thousands of lake lovers searching our site for homes, condos or townhomes to rent for their upcoming lake trip this season.

Please get in touch with our advertising team HERE and we’ll provide you more details on this upcoming advertising opportunity.

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Looking for the Great Salt Lake forum?

LakeLubbers previously offered visitors the ability to create accounts and participate in lake forums. When we overhauled the site’s content management system in 2021 we had to disable those features. We’re evaluating options and welcome your comments and feedback here.

We also encourage you to join our lake-lovin’ community on Facebook and Instagram!

Click here to advertise your Great Salt Lake vacation rental or local business.

The former Great Salt Lake forum is closed. Find out why here.

New Great Salt Lake photo gallery is coming soon.

Please share this article with your fellow lake lovers!

Spread the word! Share our Great Salt Lake article with your fellow Lake Lubbers!

Explore local Great Salt Lake vacation rentals and hotel accommodations using our interactive map. Clicking on listings below will allow you to compare nearby properties, best rates and availability for your dates.

Looking for the old Great Salt Lake forum group? Click Here

New Great Salt Lake photos coming soon!

Vacation Home Name

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  • 2 bedrooms
  • 2 bathrooms
  • hot tub
  • wifi