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Clocking in at approximately 1,700 square miles, the Great Salt Lake is the largest natural lake west of the Mississippi River. The lake's name comes from the nature of the water: The evaporation process (the only exit available for the lake's water) leaves behind salty mineral deposits. Salt Lake City's visitors and residents enjoy the area's many hiking trails, ample picnic spots and boating and fishing opportunities.
According to recent visitors, the Great Salt Lake is also excellent for swimming and for spotting wildlife – including bison – on the way to the park. Travelers recommend stopping by the visitor center, highlighting the informative and friendly staff as definite perks.
One of the most popular access points is Antelope Island, a state park located a little more than 60 miles northwest of Salt Lake City. You can reach the island by following Interstate 15 to Exit 332. The lake area is open every day from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., but is closed on several holidays. If you decide to use Antelope Island as your jumping-off point, expect a $10 entrance fee per vehicle. However, there are also plenty of free access points closer to town. To learn more about the Great Salt Lake, visit the Utah tourism board's website.