We’ve heard many people say they think Antelope Island, in Syracuse, Utah, is closed during the winter months. But that’s not true. There’s still much to see and do there during the cold season, and we enjoy it far more than summer visits because so few people go there in comparison, once it snows.
Recently, we enjoyed a Saturday outing to the island. Keep in mind, there are about 19 trails on the island, and we spent several hours just visiting one: the Lakeside Trail. Once we arrived at the Davis County Causeway to pay our $10 entrance fee, we simply asked the attendant on duty for her recommendations that day. We were planning to visit the Fielding Garr Ranch House, one of the most well-known places to visit, but we’re so glad she recommended the Lakeside Trail instead.
Perfect Buffalo View
We were so in luck! Look what we found in the parking lot. We could hardly contain our excitement! This was better than a trip to Yellowstone!
Now, please understand that we did NOT do the stupid tourist thing and get up right next to this buffalo. He was near the parking lot, and we have a zoom lens. So we did get to see this guy up close, but we were physically at a safe distance and behind a vehicle. That said, this was a fantastic view. He didn’t mind that we were there, and he had a few buddies close by. So we saw several bison up close. There were two other cars, with maybe eight people total, and we all had the perfect view.
Please know, if you do visit Antelope Island and get to be near the buffalo, be careful. They do attack and have done so recently. They are wild animals and deserve space and respect. So be careful and smart about how you visit them. But enjoy the views!
Following the attendant’s suggestion we started along the Lakeside Trail after our fun buffalo surprise at the trailhead. Then guess what? Another surprise! Hundreds of buffalo were on the east side of the trail, enjoying the winter grasses. This photo just shows a few of the herd.
But we also took a video so you could see all of them from a distance. It was really quite a thrill to be on the trail and see all the bison in the area. We were also in luck because the Trail Patrol happened along on horseback just as we were enjoying the views.
The full trail is 5.6 miles both ways, but we turned around shortly after the point this video shows. A storm was coming in, so we want to be back to the vehicle. My husband’s watch showed us walking a little over 4 miles total. So make this trail hike your own. Turn around at any point, and you’ll still enjoy beautiful scenery.
My guys on the trail with our dog Oakley. Bonus if you can get your teen to smile. I promise he had a good time. The trail is easy to walk and cushioned with gravel, which is perfect for my achy, flat feet. We could still see remnants of the island’s 2018 fire but were amazed out how beautifully the island has recovered.
Things to Know before You Visit Antelope Island
Pets are allowed but must be controlled on a maximum six-foot leash. No dogs and horses allowed on the beach.
Plants and animals are protected park resources. It is illegal to remove, alter, destroy, or harass them.
Drones are allowed during winter months (December-February) with a park permit.
Bathrooms are at the trailhead. They are clean and provide the basics.
Potable water is not available. So bring plenty to stay hydrated.
There are no services. Bring your own food and any toiletries or items you might need during your stay.
Fires allowed in designated areas only.
Winter park hours (November-February) are 6:00 am to 6 pm, according to the official brochures and pamphlet we received. HOWEVER, the day we visited, the park closed at 5:00 pm. And when they close, the gate on the causeway is down, the attendants go home, and there’s no way for you to drive out. So plan ahead! If you have any questions about the length of your stay, ask the attendant before you enter the park.
Contact information: 801-773-2941 Entrance Gate. 801-725-9263 Visitor Center. 801-538-7220 Salt Lake Main Office. 800-322-3770 Camping Reservations. We did see one lone tent near Lakeside Trail. It wouldn’t be our thing, but apparently some brave souls do camp during the winter.
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