The Bonnevile Salt Flats is an area that no visitor to northwestern Utah will want to overlook. Covering some 30,000 acres, this salt pan expanse is known for its barren and austere landscape, the likes of which is about as flat a landscape that you will find anywhere. In fact, so flat are the Utah Salt Flats area that it is possible to see the curvature of the earth.
The Bonneville Salt Flats, as is true of the nearby Great Salt Lake, is a remnant of Lake Bonneville. This ancient lake once covered a significant portion of Utah, as well as parts of Idaho and Nevada. When the lake dried up, various salt flat areas were left behind, with the Bonneville area being the most renowned. Wind and water helped to shape the terrain, and they continue to do so to this day. In the winter, a shallow layer of water covers the flats, and it remains in place until spring and sometimes early summer. Once the water evaporates, wind takes over, smoothing the surface.
One of the main reasons why the Bonneville Salt Flats area is so renowned is the fact that it is used for car races. Speed trials are also common events, with many entrants hoping to set a record with either a car or a motorcycle. The racers come from all over the globe, and the spot that is most used for racing events is known as the Bonneville Speedway. Summer is the racing season, and the various races and speed trial events are most often open to the general public. The highest speeds to be reached on the flats exceed 700 miles per hour, and some racers are making plans to try to top the 1,000 mph mark! Time will tell if this can be achieved.
Due to the barren nature of the Bonneville Salt Flats, no creature can exist for very long on the vast plain. It's simply too inhospitable. People do visit, however, and they don't all come to race. Standing on the flats and taking in the unique landscape is rewarding enough for most, and it's possible to take a leisurely drive on the flat terrain. Those who wish to drive on the flats are encouraged to stay on portions that are designated for such pursuits, and any and all visitors should stay off the salt surface when the winter water layer is in place. For this reason, summer is the best time to visit, though visitors should be prepared to handle the hot conditions. This is desert country, after all, and summer temps can easily exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Bonneville Salt Flats area is situated along Interstate 80 in the northwestern part of the state, about 100 miles west of Salt Lake City. To the near west is the Utah town of Wendover, and it's not too far from Wendover to the border with Nevada. While the flats are available for public enjoyment, there aren't any permanent facilities to speak of. Temporary facilities are commonly offered during racing and speed trial events, however. As for lodging in this Utah Salt Flats area, overnight stays are not allowed. As such, many visitors choose to camp on public lands that can be found in the region. The campgrounds in Wendover, some of which feature hookups, are arguably the most popular. Wendover also offers other accommodations, the likes of which come primarily in the form of budget-friendly motels.