Ever gazed at the serene expanse of The Great Salt Lake, feeling a magnetic pull towards its briny waters? You’re not alone. As you take in it’s magnificence, however, there’s a question that naturally springs to mind: can you swim in The Great Salt Lake?

This Salt Lake City lake isn’t your typical beach vacation spot. Its high salinity gives it an otherworldly feel—like floating on another planet! It’s this strange charm that draws curious adventurers and hardcore swimmers alike.

But there’s more to discover about the lake than just taking a salty dip. From understanding its unique properties to adventuring through Antelope Island, we’ve got the many wonders of the lake covered in this article!

Be enthralled by the majestic splendor of one of Utah’s most celebrated natural attractions. Let’s dive right in!

Can You Swim in The Great Salt Lake?

If you’re wondering, “can you swim in The Great Salt Lake?” the answer is yes, indeed. The Great Salt Lake, often compared to the Dead Sea because of its high salinity, offers a unique swimming experience. But be warned—this isn’t your average lake swim.

The Swimming Experience at The Great Salt Lake

The lake’s water is five times saltier than ocean water, which creates an unusual buoyancy effect that makes it almost impossible not to float. This phenomenon provides a tranquil swimming experience unlike any other.

But why do locals rarely take advantage of such a unique feature? One reason could be because they know about something others don’t: It’s called “lake stink;” a term coined by residents due to the pungent smell produced from decaying brine shrimp and algae. So while you can technically swim in The Great Salt Lake, you may not want to.

There is, however, an annual marathon swim across a section of this vast inland sea held every year on Saturday, June 11th known as ‘The Josh Green Mile.’

Understanding the Unique Properties of Great Salt Lake

The Great Salt Lake, a gem in Utah’s crown, is an inland sea boasting a rich ecosystem. But it’s not your average lake—its high salt content sets it apart from other bodies of water.

The High Salinity of Great Salt Lake

Why so salty? Well, unlike most lakes that have outlets to let water flow out, The Great Salt Lake is a terminal or endorheic lake—meaning it has no outlet. This lack of outflows contributes to an unusually high concentration of salts.

This isn’t just table salt we’re talking about here. The mix includes minerals like magnesium and potassium too. So, if you were hoping for some mineral-rich skin therapy similar to bathing in Dead Sea mud, you might be out of luck.

All this salinity creates a unique habitat where certain species thrive, while others can’t handle the heat (or rather, salt). The resilient brine shrimp call this lake home along with attracting flies and gnats due to algae growth. These little critters are at the heart of one super salty food chain.

A Sizeable Inland Sea

Situated within Utah’s larger geologic region known as the Great Basin, our saline friend stretches across approximately 1,700 square miles, making it by far America’s largest saltwater lake (even bigger than the state of Delaware!).

You might be thinking, “that sounds massive!” but back in Ice Age times, there was an even more gigantic body called “Lake Bonneville” which covered much more ground than today’s Great Salt Lake does.

Remember folks, while we may not want to sip this salty water, it’s the perfect cocktail for those hardy brine shrimp.

Navigating around Great Salt Lake’s Challenges

The allure of The Great Salt Lake can be dampened by a few unique challenges. The lake, particularly its southern arm, is less salty than the northern part. This leads to some differences in water quality and also affects your swimming experience.

A major deterrent for potential swimmers is an unpleasant phenomenon locals refer to as “lake stink.” It’s not something you’d find at every beach, or even most lakes. But here, decaying organic matter contributes creates a distinct odor that might make you think twice about diving into these briny waters.

There are also changes in salt content and water levels which impact what the lake offers to visitors the year, so it’s always a good idea to check conditions before planning your swim trip.

In addition, getting out on open water isn’t just about slipping into your swimsuit and taking a plunge. Here at Great Salt Lake, we have more elements to consider—from the weather conditions impacting visibility in popular spots like Antelope Island’s beaches right down to ensuring you’ve packed enough fresh drinking water.

To sum up, while navigating around Great Salt Lake may present certain obstacles due its unique ecosystem, remember—knowledge is power. With appropriate preparation, such as understanding when the best times to visit are, exploring this remarkable western hemisphere landmark could turn out being unforgettable adventure, indeed!

Exploring the Beaches of Great Salt Lake

If you’re a beach person, you’ll love exploring the sandy beaches around The Great Salt Lake. It’s not just about swimming; you can also sunbathe, picnic, or play frisbee on these wide stretches of sand.

The Appeal of Bridger Bay Beach

One gem that stands out is Bridger Bay Beach. This popular spot boasts soft white sand and calm waters, offering a serene setting for visitors to unwind and soak up Utah’s sunny skies.

The nearby marina adds more appeal to this location with its spectacular view of sailboats gliding across the sparkling lake water. Plus, it offers easy access for boaters looking for an open water adventure.

From leisurely strolls along the shoreline to exhilarating dips in briny waters, each beach presents its own unique experience. So grab your sunscreen and a good book because these sandy beaches are calling.

Can You Swim in the Great Salt Lake? A Comprehensive Guide

Antelope Island—An Alternative Exploration of The Great Salt Lake

If you’re seeking a unique experience beyond the shores and briny water of The Great Salt Lake, look no further than Antelope Island. This remarkable island offers an entirely different perspective of Utah’s iconic inland sea.

The Attractions of Antelope Island

Nestled within the vast expanse of the Salt Lake, this park presents a wealth of recreational opportunities for visitors. For starters, its terrain is perfect for hiking and horseback riding, with trails offering panoramic views for miles.

But what truly sets Antelope Island apart is its resident wildlife species. You’ll get to witness herds of American Bison grazing peacefully in their natural habitat—an incredible sight that makes every visit worthwhile.

Besides bison, other inhabitants include mule deer and pronghorn antelopes—after which the island gets its name—and countless migratory birds making pit stops during their lengthy journeys.

If swimming races against brine shrimp aren’t your thing, then give marathon bird-watching or wildlife photography at Antelope Island a shot. It certainly beats getting entangled with those pesky brine flies while attempting an open-water swim at Bridger Bay Beach any day.

If you’re up for some real adventure without soaking in salty water or dealing with lake stink (we won’t judge), make sure to put Antelope Island high on your list. This unique corner of The Great Salt Lake offers a captivating alternative to your typical lakeside experience.

Comparing The Great Salt Lake with Other Bodies of Water

The Dead Sea, one of the world’s saltiest bodies of water, and Utah’s Great Salt Lake have more in common than you might think. Both are inland seas with a salinity that is off the charts when compared to most freshwater lakes or even ocean water.

The Great Salt Lake vs. The Dead Sea

Like its Middle Eastern counterpart, The Great Salt Lake is incredibly salty due to lack of outflows; however, it offers unique experiences for those daring enough to venture into its briny depths. Despite being known as one of the largest saltwater lakes in the western hemisphere, it isn’t nearly as well-known for swimming like our distant cousin across oceans—but why?

First of all, though The Great Salt Lake is the saltiest body of water on our side of the world, it isn’t quite salty enough to ward off all organic life. Brine shrimp thrive in the Salt Lake waters, making it home to an ecosystem of some fascinating, but pungent organisms. The Dead Sea, on the other hand, has a salinity level of 34%, making it a more hostile environment to living things, but a much better option for taking a swim. The higher salt content gets rid of the stink and makes it a little more float-friendly as well.

FAQs about The Great Salt Lake

Is the Great Salt Lake Safe to Swim in?

Absolutely, it’s safe to take a dip in The Great Salt Lake. Just remember its high salt content can sting cuts or wounds.

Why Is it Difficult to Swim Underwater in The Great Salt Lake?

The lake’s high salinity makes you super buoyant. So diving below the surface feels more challenging than typical swimming.

Which Is saltier: the Dead Sea or Great Salt Lake?

The Dead Sea takes top honors here; it’s even saltier than our own briny body of water—The Great Salt Lake.

How Deep Is The Great Salt Lake?

This varies due to fluctuating water levels but on average, expect depths around 33 feet across most parts of the lake.


Yes, you can swim in The Great Salt Lake! But it’s not your everyday swimming experience. The high salinity makes for a unique floaty feel—quite out of this world.

The lake has its quirks though: an odd smell and insects find their home there. But, despite its peculiarities, the lake remains an attractive spot!

Exploring Bridger Bay Beach or adventuring through Antelope Island gives you a different perspective on this intriguing body of water.

In essence, The Great Salt Lake offers something for everyone—swimmers, explorers, and nature enthusiasts alike. A dip into these briny waters might just be what your next adventure needs!