Year of 2017

Salt pans on the Great Salt Lake, Utah

You won’t need floaties if you’re going for a dip in the Great Salt Lake. Known as America’s Dead Sea, this body of water is saltier than the ocean, making it easy to bob around the surface and enjoy the view. The Great Salt Lake is the largest salt water lake in the Western Hemisphere, but it’s only a remnant of a much bigger body of water–Lake Bonneville. This prehistoric lake covered most of western Utah some 30,000 years ago. In the last ice age, the lake breeched its natural dam and much of the water was released in the Bonneville Flood, an event that inundated eastern Washington and Idaho, carving out canyons and creating waterfalls that still exist today.

The Great Salt Lake, located in the northern part of the U.S. state of Utah, is the largest salt water lake in the Western Hemisphere, and the eighth-largest terminal lake in the world. In an average year the lake covers an area of around 1,700 square miles, but the lake’s size fluctuates substantially due to its shallowness. For instance, in 1963 it reached its lowest recorded size at 950 square miles, but in 1988 the surface area was at the historic high of 3,300 square miles. In terms of surface area, it is the largest lake in the United States that is not part of the Great Lakes region.
Depth: 32′ 10″ (10 m)
Length: 74.60 miles (120 km)
Surface area: 1,699 sq miles (4,400 km²)
Surface elevation: 4,200 feet (1,280 m)
Mean depth: 16′ 1″ (4.90 m)
Width: 28 miles (45 km)
Map of CA, NV, UT and western AZ when they were part of Mexico
Map showing “Lake Youta or Salt Lake” in 1838 when it was in Mexico. From Britannica 7th edition.