A Place Unlike Any Other (Oh, And Gnats) – Antelope Island State Park, UT
It’s a place unlike any other. An island in the middle of an Ancient Salt Sea, a spot almost unfettered by human touch where the most primitive of earthly rocks (up to 1.7 billion years old) lie side-by-side with the most new (tufa deposits from the last 10,000 years). It’s an oasis of green and raw nature, a birders paradise, a place where the buffalo roam (I am not kidding). It’s astonishing, astounding….magical.
Well, unless the biting gnats are out…
We arrived at this island paradise 3 days ago, and the gnats hatched 2 days before that. The lady at the entry station informed us of this lucky coincidence as we paid the $3 nature fee to get in. Being the eternal optimist I reasoned that it couldn’t possibly be that bad. I mean I’ve lived in Asia, hiked the rain forests of South America, RV’d through the mid-west in summer.
Then again, I’d never been to Antelope Island.
This place is absolutely everything that the story tells you. It is…literally…an island in a sea of humanity. When you cross the road from the massive suburbia of Salt Lake City and drive the 6 miles across Salt Lake to enter the 28,000 acre island you emerge into a whole different world. Bird songs fill the air, gulls swoop over the salt ocean, white-tipped mountains reflect eerily in the glassy-still lake. And then you see buffalo (whole herds of them on the beach!), pronghorn antelope springing in the plains, rabbits bouncing through the grass…even a lone coyote crossing the road. You are enveloped by the glove of nature, surrounded by pure beauty. And your massive RV site (easily the size of 3 “beasts”) sits lone alongside the beach with 360 degree views and nothing but the tweeting of birds to keep you company. WOW!
Practically no-one is here.
Of course, that could have something to do with the gnats…
Now at this point in the story I should interject that Paul is a very lucky man. You see he has me, and I don’t mean this in the “oh it’s so romantic” sense I mean it in the “I’m a blood-sucking insect magnet” sense. There exists not a biting insect on the face of this earth that has not wanted to dine on ceviche-a-la-Nina. Paul may have the advantage of a natural resistance to bugs, but he is backed up by the iron-clad security of carrying along the mobile bug all-you-can-eat buffet that is moi. Within the first half-hour of our stay at Antelope Island I had at least 100 bug bites and by evening my skin looked the human version of a walking pineapple. Even Klingon’s could win a beauty contest against this one. Paul of course, was utterly untouched.
All I can say is the bugs are bad…..very, very bad…
The only respite from the biting bastards are before sunrise and after sunset. The rest of the time they swarm like…well…bloody insects and your best bet is to stay inside with everything shut. Despite the amazing beauty here, miles of biking/hiking trails and even an on-site historic ranch (which is very cool) we’ve decided we have to leave early. We’ve loved the view from our RV window and enjoyed some pretty amazing sunsets, but after battling valiantly through three days of unrelenting gnats we concede defeat and will probably leave tomorrow.
That is unless the gnats leave first…
This is most definitely a place unlike any other.
Note/ According to the local ranger the gnats hatch as soon as weather warms and stay in force until temps hit around 90. This means the best times to come to Antelope Island are probably very early spring or late fall. Totally worth the visit, as long as you plan for the gnats!