The Great Salt Lake Unveiled: 10 Lesser-Known Facts

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The Great Salt Lake, an iconic natural wonder in the United States, has long captivated the imagination of travelers and scientists alike. While many are familiar with its stunning landscapes and unique salty composition, there are several lesser-known facts that make this lake even more intriguing. Join us on a journey as we uncover 10 little-known facts about the Great Salt Lake.

  1. Salinity Surpasses the Ocean

The Great Salt Lake is renowned for its salinity, but did you know that it’s saltier than many oceans? While seawater typically contains around 3.5% salt, the Great Salt Lake can reach salinity levels of up to 27%. That’s saltier than the average seawater!

  1. Multiple Namesakes

The lake has undergone a series of name changes throughout history. It was first called “Timpanogos Lake” by the indigenous people of the region. Later, it was dubbed the “Mormon Sea” by early Mormon pioneers and finally received its current name, the “Great Salt Lake.”

  1. The Largest Lake in the Western U.S.

In terms of surface area, the Great Salt Lake is the largest saltwater lake in the Western United States, covering approximately 1,700 square miles. It’s even larger than the famous Lake Tahoe!

  1. Salty Swim

Due to its high salt concentration, swimming in the Great Salt Lake is a unique experience. You’ll effortlessly float on the surface, just like the Dead Sea in the Middle East, making it a must-visit destination for buoyant adventures.

  1. The Mystery of the Spiral Jetty

One of the lake’s most enigmatic features is the Spiral Jetty, an art installation created by Robert Smithson in 1970. This enormous coil of rocks stretches into the lake, and its appearance can change dramatically depending on the water level.

  1. Birdwatcher’s Paradise

The Great Salt Lake is a critical stopover point for millions of migratory birds, making it a haven for birdwatchers. The lake hosts more than 250 bird species, including iconic inhabitants like American avocets and eared grebes.

  1. Wading Through Wetlands

Adjacent to the lake, the Great Salt Lake Wetlands are a unique ecosystem of marshes, mudflats, and lagoons. These wetlands provide essential habitat for birds, animals, and plants, showcasing the lake’s ecological significance.

  1. Changing Shorelines

The lake’s water levels can fluctuate significantly due to evaporation and regional climate conditions. This dynamic nature has caused its shoreline to shift over the years, impacting communities and industries around the lake.

  1. A Rainbow of Bacteria

The vibrant colors seen in some parts of the lake are not the result of pollution but rather the presence of halophilic bacteria. These microorganisms thrive in saline environments and produce striking reds, purples, and greens.

  1. Economic Importance

Beyond its natural beauty, the Great Salt Lake plays a crucial role in Utah’s economy. It supports industries such as salt mining and brine shrimp harvesting, which have provided livelihoods for generations of Utahns.


The Great Salt Lake, with its remarkable characteristics and ecological significance, is a treasure trove of little-known facts. From its surprising salinity levels to its vital role in supporting migratory birds, this iconic lake continues to fascinate and inspire all who explore its shores.

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