Bonneville Salt Flats

Imagine a place so flat you seem to see the curvature of the planet, so barren not even the simplest life forms can exist.

Imagine the passing thunder of strange vehicles hurtling by on a vast dazzling white plain. This is not an alien world far from earth; it is Utah's famous Bonneville Salt Flats.

Click here to learn more about speed events at the Salt Flats.

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Unusual Features

Bonneville Salt Flats has one of the most unique natural features in Utah: A crust of salt stretching over 30,000 acres. Looking out across the area, you’d swear there was a light dusting of snow, even in the middle of summer. Despite its impressive looks, it’s speed that brings the Flats international recognition.

Where are the Bonneville Salt Flats?

Directions to the Bonneville Salt Flats are simple: From Salt Lake City, hop on I-80 and head west. On your way, you’ll pass the Great Salt Lake, an 87-foot stone tree and miles and miles of mostly barren land. 

Things to See and Do


The famous Bonneville Speedway, where amateur racers go to break land speed records, is located in the northwestern portion of the recreation management area. The salt fields are perfectly flat, making it the ideal place to see just how fast an experimental vehicle can go. Imagine driving across a frozen lake bed, only instead of ice it’s made of the stuff you sprinkle on your french fries. 

The land is flat for miles and miles.


Beyond the Bonneville Salt Flats, low mountains and hills break up the horizontal landscape. There is a bit of vegetation on the hillsides which tries to encroach into the flat areas, but it doesn’t get far. And on hot days, heat waves rise from the salty soil to create mirages so real, you could easily convince yourself the desert is instead a giant lake.

Best Point of View

You’ll get the best viewpoint of the area from the Salt Flats Rest Area near milepost 10. Park your car and take a walk out onto the salty soil for a most satisfying crunch. Tread carefully, though, especially if you’re wearing sandals; those jagged crystals can be sharp. When you return, clean your shoes off at the wash station — unless you want to vividly remember your visit for years to come.

At the Salt Flats Rest Area, you can walk out onto the salty soil.

Nearby Attractions

If thinking about all that Bonneville salt is making you thirsty, the split town of Wendover — Utah and Nevada share the border town name — is just up the road. Stop in for some refreshment. Utah’s side can serve you soft drinks, Nevada has the harder stuff.


Where did all that salt come from? The Salt Flats were formed when ancient Lake Bonneville, which once covered one-third of Utah, dried up. The Great Salt Lake is a mere remnant. Today, the flats include a variety of micro environments, including ponds and marshy areas near the edges of the flats. These spots are critical habitat for some plants and animals.

Mountains in the far distance break up the barren landscape.

About Your Visit

The Bonneville Salt Flats is administered by the Bureau of Land Management. Due to its unique geology, history and scenic beauty, it was designated an Area of Critical Environmental Concern in 1985.

Act Responsibly

Despite its crusty surface, the Bonneville Salt Flats has a fragile environment. Please drive only on established roads, as any off-roading can damage the delicate soil underneath the salt. No driving on the flats is permitted when the area is wet or flooded.

Day-use Only

No camping or overnight stays are permitted on the salt fields, but you may camp on surrounding public lands. Find private campgrounds and hookups in nearby Wendover, as well as other accommodations and services.

There are no facilities or services on the salt flats, so plan ahead. Temporary facilities are available during racing events.

Coarse Conditions

Note that the salt water is highly corrosive and can short-out the electrical system in your vehicle. Also, be prepared for desert conditions. Temperatures can exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer and drop well below 0 in the winter.

Military Testing

The federal government owns nearly all of the land in this area. Large portions are used by the military as storage depots, testing areas and bombing ranges; the crew who dropped the atom bomb in 1945 trained here. These sections are fenced and marked, and public access is prohibited.

Bonneville Salt Flats Events

People come from all over the world to Bonneville Salt Flats for land speed racing events.

Read an overview of Speed Events at the Bonneville Salt Flats in this article : Think You Know Fast? Not Until You Experience Bonneville Salt Flats Speed Events

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