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Bonneville Salt Flats Sunrise

Updated on January 7, 2010
Dawn splits the horizon over Bonnieville Salt Flats
Dawn splits the horizon over Bonnieville Salt Flats

In the rear view mirror the darkness slowly splits open at the horizon with an orange peach glow coloring the dawn struck sky a gray blue. It brought with it reflections of a prehistoric lake of ancient times and diamond shaped mountain peaks in purple and cobalt. As the light became more intense the color faded and the kaleidoscope of contrasting colors washed out into a present time until images of salt and desert were all that remained. The two gulls stood, webbed feet in the shallow water wondering what happened to the mirage that was there only a moment earlier. They were startled then from their dreams to behold a new day.


Stopping at the rest area about 25 miles east of Wendover, UT on I-80 we get out to take in this dawn and the reflections in the water. There is a thin coating of water from recent showers covering the long expanse of the salt flats that allow the mountains and the sky to be reproduced again in the water. Usually, totally dry and without interesting sites to photograph we feel really lucky to have captured the few moments at dawn that transformed it briefly into a magical place.

In Utah west of the Great Salt Lake, lies the Bonneville Salt Flats thinly covered in water from resent showers it reminds us of a prehistoric lake that was once located there 32,000 years ago. There is a marker at a rest area in Idaho on I-84 that marks the northern edge of that ancient lake, It is called Bonneville Lake and it covered much of North America taking up most of present-day Utah and extending into Idaho and Nevada. It was 1,000 feet deep and more than 19,691 square miles in area. The Lake existed until about 16,800 years ago, when a large part of the water was released through the Red Rock Pass in Idaho. Then when the climate changed the lake dried up and left the Great Salt Lake, Utah Lake, Sevier Lake, Rush Lake, and Little Salt Lake as remnants.

Today, the salt flats are on that old lake bottom, which is now a desert on Interstate Highway 80. They are used for auto racing and are well known for the land-speed records set there .

For more information on racing and events on the salt flats click or for current racing schedule
For information on preservation efforts for the salt on the saltflats see Save the Salt


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    • Fraser Soul profile image

      Mildred Lucille Fraser 6 years ago from Bloomfield, CT

      Beautiful photography! I want to go there too. Thanks for sharing.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Your photographs are truly beautiful and I love your writing style. Thanks for these views of the Bonneville Salt Flats.

    • profile image

      zanak 8 years ago

      Great Pictures! Your Article makes me want to go see it in person.

    • Cheeky Girl profile image

      Cassandra Mantis 8 years ago from UK and Nerujenia

      Sounds like an interesting place. Pity the water dried up. It looks so peaceful!