We’re getting ready to head back to Utah soon where we will explore Arches NP and Canyonlands NP, as well as Monument Valley, for our fill of landscape images and hopefully, some night photography as well. To get my wildlife “fix”, we’re also planning on spending some time in Rocky Mountain NP.
But as I was thinking about Utah, I started to think about the time we spent in Utah in February. For my family, it was a snowboard trip, but for me it was a photography trip, with a side helping of skiing. :-)
Not far from Salt Lake City is Antelope Island State Park. We spent several days visiting the island, which is accessed via a causeway into the Great Salt Lake, connecting the island to the Wasatch Front Range. It comprises 28,000 acres, stretched over a length of 15 mi and 5 mi across. Interestingly enough, the island is home to over 40 freshwater springs which produce over 30 million gallons of water per year … all while being surrounded by the Great Salt Lake!
It was first explored in 1845 by John C. Fremont and Kit Carson who also named it Antelope Island, after the population of pronghorn antelope that grazed there.
It’s quite the fascinating place to visit … each season brings a different perspective to the island. In the winter, I found it much easier to spot the wildlife, as they made their way across the snowy and icy landscape.
In fact, on this trip, we saw more coyote than I think that I ever have there! They seemed to be just about everywhere …
… on the ice …
… on the road …
… hiding in the brush of the tundra.
Of course, there were more wildlife sightings than just the coyotes. Mule deer were sighted as well.
The coyotes saw the mule deer as well, which signaled the “dinner time” bell in them, so off they went to try to stalk one down.
The poor deer, though quick making their way over the brush, were on high alert!
There were so many deer on the island and apparently the Utah state parks have had issues with the lack of deer in other areas, so were stumbled across the Department of Natural Resources conducting a catch of some of female mule deer, for ultimate re-introduction into another park, which had decreased numbers of deer recently. It was quite interesting the assembly that they had going on. I know this is a horrible shot, but check out the multi-level carrier netting system they used to transfer the deer to their station for inspection and then transportation.
In 1848, the Fielding Garr Ranch was erected, which was the first permanent residence on the island. In 1981, the island and the ranch were bought by the State of Utah and thus turned into the state park of today.
We also had sightings and interactions with other wildlife, such as the great horned owls, as they tried desperately to camouflage themselves from being spotted. OK, I’m well aware that this is less than stellar of a shot … LOL
We also spotted several different porcupines in our travels. One was feasting high up in a tree. The other was on the ground munching on leaves, twigs, and downed branches from the nearby trees. This particular one got out in the open and let me crawl around with them. Contrary to popular belief, porcupines don’t throw their quills, so I was actually quite safe.
There’s quite a large bison herd on the island as well. They’re quite interesting to watch as they move slowly across the landscape and you become slowed down by them as they approach the roadway. Makes me want to belt out with a round of “Oh give me a home…”.
As we were leaving, we noticed the skies becoming quite beautiful in the rear view of the car. I made Tom stop and my intention was to capture the moment. I never did shoot it, but I think I got something better.
There was a coyote pair hanging out right where we stopped! Serendipity, I say! One of them was actively hunting for food (I presume it was the female), while the other (I presume it was the male) followed along like it was stalking the other and just waiting for the right moment for something …. hmmm …. it was quite interesting.
Either way, they were in gorgeous light as they made their way, all while the sunset was happening.
On our drive back to SLC, the alpenglow on the Wasatch Range was amazing … such tones of blue, pink, and purple … gorgeous. Sorry for ending with the moving shot from the iPhone camera, but it truly was gorgeous, so I had to share.
Hope that you enjoyed Antelope Island SP! I highly recommend a side trip to visit, if you’re ever in the SLC area. Will be back to Florida sights and shots for the next blog post.