Thanks to social media, visiting Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah, is becoming a more and more popular road trip activity.
However, because the flats are a relatively new must-see tourist hotspot, information on these Utah flats can sometimes be scattered and hard to find.
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So, from directions and what to pack down to rules and activities, here is everything you need to know (and everything you didn’t know you needed to know) about visiting Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah.
How To Get To Bonneville Salt Flats
Even though the Bonneville Salt Flats are sort of in the middle of nowhere, they are surprisingly not difficult to find.
Drive times to the Bonneville Salt Flats vary depending on where you’re coming from. If you are visiting from out of state, you’re probably coming from Salt Lake City, Moab, Kanab or Las Vegas.
Here’s how long it takes to get to Bonneville Salt Flats from these cities consecutively.
- Salt Lake City, Utah: 1.5 hours.
- Moab, Utah: 5 hours.
- Kanab/southern Utah: 6 hours.
- Las Vegas, Nevada: 7 hours.
Directions From Salt Lake City To Bonneville Salt Flats
Here are map directions from Salt Lake City to Bonneville Salt Flats.
Directions From Moab To Bonneville Salt Flats
Here are map directions from Moab to Bonneville Salt Flats.
Directions From Kanab To Bonneville Salt Flats
Here are map directions from Kanab to Bonneville Salt Flats.
Directions From Las Vegas To Bonneville Salt Flats
Here are map directions from Las Vegas to Bonneville Salt Flats.
Depending on which direction your coming from, you will either see a lot of mountains (from Kanab/southern Utah), a lot of desert (from Moab and Las Vegas) or a lot of other unprotected salt flats (from Salt Lake City) on your way.
If you see dirty, littered or vandalized salt flats on your way to Bonneville (usually closer to Salt Lake City), don’t panic. The Bonneville Salt Flats are on protected and maintained land. They are much cleaner and much more enjoyable.
Upon arrival, you’ll see the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) site right off of the highway. That’s how you know you’re in the right spot!
What To Expect At The Bonneville Salt Flats
According to the Bonneville Salt Flats Special Recreation Management Area, the flats spread over 46 square miles on 30,000 vast acres of land.
You can expect a ton of photogenic beauty at the Bonneville Salt Flats. Bright white, dried patches of salt stretch from east to west as far as the human eye can see.
The salt crystalizes right beside the parking lot and beyond, making you seem like a stranger on a foreign planet.
What To Bring To The Bonneville Salt Flats
1. Close-Toed Shoes
Because of the sharp salt ground, I highly suggest you bring close-toed shoes.
Instagram loves to show off all of the luxurious-looking barefoot dreams of the salt flats, but I can pretty much guarantee that every one of these Instagram models has boots or tennis shoes on the other side of the camera.
These are my favorite hiking boots from Timberland’s. They will protect your feet and ankles, and they still look great in photos.
The combination of the desert heat and the high mountainous elevation creates a suitable environment for intense UV indexes. Always wear sunscreen to protect your skin.
I love Neutrogena’s Clear Face SPF 55 sunscreen. It is oil-free and non-comedogenic, so it won’t clog your pores. I have extremely sensitive skin and have never broken out from this sunscreen.
The same rule for your skin also applies to your eyes. You only get two eyes — take care of them!
If you need prescription sunglasses like I do, Zenni has hundreds of extremely affordable and trendy options.
4. Light Jacket Or Windbreaker
Bring a light jacket or windbreaker, especially if you plan to visit in the winter, spring or late fall.
Salt flats in Utah can become extremely windy, which makes for surprisingly cold air temperatures.
My go-to travel jacket is always a denim jacket, as it is lightweight, warm and matches everything. My favorite denim jackets are from Gap, linked here.
Park Amenities While Visiting Bonneville Salt Flats
The park itself, or BLM land, rather, has very few amenities. There is a basic set of public bathrooms at Bonneville Salt Falts, but nothing other than that. The Bonneville Salt Flats camping sites there are considered primitive.
Furthermore, I definitely recommend you fill up on gas before coming to the flats. And, before you depart, fill up again about ten minutes down the road in Wendover, Nevada.
You never know when you’ll see a gas station next, and running empty in the middle of the desert (or mountains) would put a real damper on your trip.
Here are directions to the nearest gas station while visiting Bonneville Salt Flats:
Bonneville Salt Flats Park Hours And Rules
As BLM land, the Bonneville Salt Flats are open 24 hours, seven days a week.
But, there are a few ground rules.
- Do not drive your car out on the flats if the ground is wet or flooded. Your car could get stuck.
- Only camp in the designated areas. (See the designated areas on this map).
- Do not “access, swim, float, kayak, canoe, or pursue any other recreation activities” in the canals. These canals are partially on private property “and are not designed or safe for public recreation” (Bureau of Land Management, n.d.).
- Do not litter.
- Leave no trace. (You can learn the seven Leave No Trace principles here.)
Bonneville Salt Flats Activities: What To Do At Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats
1. Camp For Free
Yes, that’s right. You can camp at Bonneville Salt Flats!
All BLM lands are public, so you can camp on most of them for free.
Some BLM areas, including the Bonneville Salt Flats, maintain designated camping spots, though. Be respectful of the signs and only camp where designated.
This is honestly the perfect place for a picnic — as long as the winds aren’t too strong when you visit.
Set up anywhere on the flats, choose which direction you face (would you prefer mountains or an endless crystal salt-flat view?), grab your wine and finger sandwiches, and enjoy.
3. Have A Photoshoot
This location is famous for some of the best, most dramatic Utah photos on Instagram.
Regardless of whether or not you hire a professional photographer, own an expensive DSLR camera or just volunteer your friend to take iPhone photos of you, you’re sure to get some amazing shots while visiting Bonneville Salt Flats.
If you want the best Utah salt flat photoshoot possible, take a look at these beginner travel photography tips.
4. Bike Or Ride Horseback
Believe it or not, both bikes and horses are allowed on the flats.
Now, bikes are definitely easier to transport, but if you have a horse and a trailer, this would make a super unique spot to trot.
Just be sure to clean up after your horse. Leave no trace!
Last, but certainly not least, you should definitely schedule some nighttime at the salt flats to stargaze.
You’re in the middle of nowhere. There is essentially zero light pollution. Plus, if you’re from a bigger city like I am, you never get to truly take in the stars up above.
Allow your eyes between 15 to 30 minutes to adjust to the dark sky, and awe at all of the natural twinkling lights that our universe has to offer.
What is the best time to visit Bonneville Salt Flats?
If you’re looking to see the Death Valley-resembling, desert-dry salt flats portrayed in every other Instagram post, you need to visit the Utah Bonneville Salt Flats in late spring, summer or fall.
If you visit the salt flats in winter or early spring, the mountain snow will be freshly melted and puddling across the entire flat.
Both the dry and wet salt flats are beautiful. Just be sure you know which flats to expect so that you are not disappointed.
Check The Weather Before Visiting Bonneville Salt Flats
Mountain weather can change fast — for better and for worse.
In the one hour that we were there, we personally experienced both a dark-skied salt storm with hurricane winds and sunshine with a subtle breeze.
Is it worth visiting Bonneville Salt Flats?
This unique piece of land has been kept practically untouched compared to other salt flats in the area.
It will have you feel like you transported to another universe, complete with its own one-of-a-kind look and environment.
We traveled between five and six hours out of our way to visit the flats, and we would most definitely do it again.
Have any questions about visiting Bonneville Salt Flats? Leave a reply below or send me a message on Instagram. I’m happy to help!
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