Exploring the Flooded Bonneville Salt Flats

Exploring the Flooded Bonneville Salt Flats

Jason Daniel Shaw


The Bonneville Salt Flats are a place that I have always heard about but never imagined visiting. Most of the time you hear about it, it is in the context of speed tests. That is because this is the place that, for years, people have come from all over the world to try to break the land speed records. That is usually in the late summer, however. In the winter, rain will cover the ground with a thin layer of water, making venturing out on to the slat flats nearly impossible.


I happened to be in Salt Lake City for a work function for a few days in October and made it a mission to get out to Bonneville. Since learning of the reflection photo opportunities, I had researched and had hoped to get there during one of these periods. I kept checking Instagram for recent stories and posts, checking to make sure that there was still water covering the flats. The drive is about an hour and a half each way from Salt Lake City so I made the drive. There is virtually nothing after you leave Salt Lake City until you get to the rest stop, which I had heard was the best place for viewing. There is just a few small businesses and gas stations are decently spaced so make sure that you have plenty of gas. As you approach from the east, there are many spots that look like you have arrived but just ignore those and keep driving. The rest stop is a perfect spot for those without a lot of time or just want to say that they have been to Bonneville. Below are some of the sights that you can expect to see from there. There is also a gas station and souvenir shop another five miles or so west, at Leppy Pass Road, that has a lot of character and is definitely worth a stop as well.


To really experience the Bonneville Salt Flats you have to venture out into them. To do that, take Leppy Pass Road to the north until the road curves to the right (at a Y-intersection) and turns into Bonneville Speedway Road. Take it until it dead ends at a cul-de-sac. If the salt flats are flooded, this is as far as you can go. However, you will be surrounded by a reflections and the views are spectacular. This is the spot that, during dry times, you make your way out onto the salt flats and can drive to the speedway. If the water levels are somewhere in between, you may have to drive (or walk) in search of standing water for some photos. However, be careful as the ground can be soft and you can get stuck pretty quick. If on foot, once you are out of sight of your car, it is hard to tell which direction is which. I will definitely return and hope to possibly make it back during the dry season to see some of the famous racing as well.

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