The recently renovated James V. Hansen Wildlife Education Center — Photo courtesy of USFWS Mountain Prairie
The Great Salt Lake is one of Utah’s most unique and remarkable natural wonders. With roughly 1700 square miles of surface area, a salinity about 10 times that of the ocean, several major islands and its own free-roaming bison herd, this body of water is truly something to behold.
However, despite its spectacular features, this lake is nevertheless somewhat difficult to access. Shallow and salty, it is quite unfit for boating. And surrounded by private lands, it is rather difficult to approach. Yet, those curious about this great body of water need only to visit the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge.
Located just less than an hour north of Salt Lake City, and only ¼ mile west of I-15, this 80,000-acre National Wildlife Refuge is a vibrant habitat to more than 250 species of migratory birds. Situated where the Bear River delivers the Northern Wasatch’s freshwater runoff to the northeastern lobe of the Great Salt Lake, this expansive refuge contains marshes, open water, alkali mudflats, uplands and complex, interconnected channels. Here, millions upon millions of individual birds feed and take rest along their journeys.
Those interested in visiting the refuge may do so in any season. A one-way driving loop is open every day of the year, from sunrise to sunset. Photographers, sightseers and birders will enjoy this peculiar landscape - located just minutes from Brigham City, yet with an utterly wild feel completely separate from the Wasatch Front urban conglomerate.
A recently renovated visitor center, filled with exhibits and information, is open Monday-Saturday throughout the year. Though the landscape alone warrants a visit, anyone interested in wildlife viewing should call or check online in order to time their visit well.