Day 30 – Salt As Far As The Eye Can See

Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Miles To Date: 
4 267

The last day of our first month in the USA began with a trip out to the Newfoundland evaporation basin, otherwise known as the Bonneville Salt Flats. The flats are around 100 miles west of Salt Lake City, and there is only one road in that direction; the I80 interstate. The drive took us past the lower regions of the salt lake, before getting to the flats.The evaporation basin formed when an ancient salt lake, much larger than the one today, evaporated and left vast salt deposits on the ground.

The flats themselves look like a flat, white desert, with mountains dotted around in the distance. This was an almost eerie site, reminiscent of a lunar landscape. The salt is compacted and suitable to drive on, which combined with the fact that nothing can grow there, means the area has become famous for land speed records (each new record from 1937 to 1965 was made there). Every Spring, a 10 mile linear race track is marked out on the salt, and time trials take place up until October when the weather changes. We turned up at the track today and got to see a motorbike doing trials at over 200mph! Another use of the flats is military exercises, and a large section north of the I80 is reserved for such purposes.

After a nice picnic overlooking the flats, and quite a few pictures, we made our way back to Salt Lake City. We drove up to the Utah State capitol (the first capitol we have seen other than the one in DC), and had a walk around. The capitol building is on a high point overlooking the city, with a very affluent neighbourhood right behind it on the hillside. We found a park at the top and managed to get some great views of the city and surrounding mountains. We also drove past the Mormon church which is done in a very grand gothic design.

For the rest of the day we drove over to nearby Park City (where most of the skiing is done), and visited an outlet mall. I managed to get a couple of t-shirts but Lauren was disappointed she didn’t find anything. Having been out for over 12 hours, we had a quick dinner and then came back to the hotel. Tomorrow we are doing a scenic drive down to Moab in preparation for a few days of national parks.

Photo(s) of the day: the salt flats, and Salt Lake City as seen from behind the Capitol (click to enlarge).