Date of visit: Saturday November 5th, 2016
Attractions/Places of Interest:
Antelope Island State Park is the largest of 10 islands located within the Great Salt Lake, Utah. It is a simple and peaceful location worth visiting if you are in the area. Weather and lighting conditions will really make or break your experience here, as often is the case when your main priority is to walk away with some amazing images. Atmospheric conditions were unfortunately very hazy during my visit and as much as polarizing filters and Lightroom’s Dehazing tool helped, conditions were not optimal.
There is a beautiful view looking over the Great Salt Lake and you will not be disappointed. Antelope Island is definitely worth putting towards the middle to top of your list of places of interest in Utah to visit, however I wouldn’t exactly place it on a worldwide bucket list.
Our hike of choice was the Buffalo Point Trail – logically leading to Buffalo Point. It is less than one mile round trip with an elevation gain of 248 feet making it a very short, but also moderately steep hike along a gravel path which the average person should be able to complete in 10-20 minutes each way to and from the parking lot. The vantage point looks over the entire Great Salt Lake and provides a great view of White Rock Bay when you look westward from Buffalo Point. Also worth noting the tallest mountain on the island is Frary Peak which is about 6,500 feet.
Depending on the time of year you visit, it might be wisest to camp on the island if you are planning on viewing sunrise at the optimal time. Gates at the island’s entrance are closed at 10pm and do not reopen until 6am, so if you visit in the summer when the sun rises around 5:30-6am you may have some challenges and miss the best light by the time you get to your chosen vantage point. The distance from the tollbooth by the entrance to Buffalo Point Trailhead is only about 10 miles. As you drive towards the island down Antelope Island Road, it is worth looking back at the beautiful Wasatch Range.
If the entrance gate is closed, do NOT attempt to drive around it through the sand even if you have four wheel drive. If you do, please consider saving this information: JP’s Towing
Getting to the best lookout point at Antelope Island is not a long hike so don’t be scared to pack a bit heavier as far as camera gear goes. While I had all my focal ranges covered between 11mm to 200mm I ended up only shooting with my 24-70 since I was satisfied with the results I was seeing. I may have taken out my 70-200 for some telephoto landscape shots of the mountain ranges bordering the Great Salt Lake but didn’t bother due to the super hazy sky that wasn’t popping out even with a polarizing filter. Since the main focus point of this scene was the lake, I preferred focusing on compositions that incorporated it rather than cutting it out of the frame with a telephoto lens.
With that being said a good telephoto lens such as the 70-200 or even higher focal length, perhaps with a 1.7x or 2.0x teleconverter might come in handy at this location for any wildlife you will likely encounter – primarily herds of bison.
While I did witness a few dozen bison as we walked up to the summit and while driving along the main road I was not able to get closer and take any images due to time constraints. Since I recently visited Yellowstone National Park and came home with many great photos of bison among other wildlife I wasn’t specifically motivated to go after the herds I saw at Antelope Island.
Photo Equipment recommended for this hike:
- Nikon D600
- Tokina 11-16 f/2.8
- Nikon 24-70 f/2.8
- Nikon 70-200 f/2.8
- Sirui T-1205X
- Induro BHD2 ballhead
- neutral density filter
- polarizing filter
- Lowepro Photo Hatchback
Click here to view a complete list of gear I recommend.
I am satisfied with the results after some tweaking in Photoshop using the dehaze filter to increase midtone contrast and would recommend Antelope Island as a sunrise or sunset location for anyone that wants to capture impressive landscape photos without committing to a major hike.