After our roadtrip in Rocky mountains I thought I saw the wildest landscapes of Utah including Moab desert, lunar landscapes and red -orangish western decor . But Utah is a state full of mysteries and surprises and as we move forward we make new discoveries.
I’m not a fan of cars, let alone car racing. So I didn’t have a clue what to expect when my buddies told me about legendary place for speed races … En route to the desert of Bonneville Salt Flats
In Moab we got up very early to see the sun rises on the red and gold mountains that surrounded us. The day begins to dawn and the horizon surrounds us with its purple velvet coat. We walk around the streets at random in the small town of Moab. While keeping our eyes on the surrounding scenery suddenly, in the middle of a residential neighborhood between a mailbox and a car, two doe looking at us fearfully. We do not move anymore. They do not move anymore. We look in each other eyes for a few seconds then they rush continuing their ride. They may have been our spiritual animals. The sun rises and the shadows on the mountains begin to dance as well the shades of orange, ocher and red.
We eat up the proper breakfast a Super 8, meaning porridge, too sweet maple syrup, creamy cheese and liquid waffles in a can that you have to cook yourself. Then we jump in the car towards Bonneville Salt Flat. The GPS announces 5 hours but we know that it will be rather 7 hours for us since we stop verrryyyyyy often for photos. The first few miles after leaving the Moab desert , feels like being on the moon. Yes, just this. The whitish gray petrified sand dunes make you want to jump in as they are so polished by the wind and the weather but after I touched them I figured out it is not the soft sand of the Breton beaches but well fossilized hard whole dunes.
As we approach the Great Salt Lake, first an imperceptible and then more and more heavy white mist surrounds us. Our first reaction, since we are on a gigantic highway of 8 lanes is to believe is air pollution, but we will understand later it is the water vapor of the area of the Great salt lakes that evaporates. Once the great salt lakes and its mining industry are past one finds oneself face to face with a vast immensity white as far as the eye can see, surrounded by fog and on the horizon of the black mountains. Bonneville Salt Flats.
As for the Moab desert, we are almost the only ones on the road except for a few trucks, which gives us even more the impression of being in a desert. But before we fully enjoy the salt desert we need fuel for the car for our stomachs. We decided to make a stopover to Wendover which is exactly on the border between Nevada and Utah. We do not get baited by the Starbucks and McDonald in Nevada side and opts for the Salt Flats Café. And we did well. This Mexican restaurant is a poem all by itself. Just entered we get a breath of air saturated with cooking oil. The menu is simple and effective. Real authentic Mexican food like fresh tacos, horchata, and jalapenos burgers! The time that orders arrive we have time to admire the incredible decoration of the restaurant. Photos from all eras and all the races held at Bonneville Salt Flats, as well as signings by speed racing stars. A big favorite ! Once sated, we fill the car and let’s go to the desert.
The Bonneville Salt desert is the result of millions of years of geological processes related to the evaporation of a large lake, which was transformed into an inland sea before disappearing completely after the last glaciation. The result is a gigantic, totally flat and dry surface during the summer, and in winter, with a small layer of shallow water. The phenomena of refraction and mirage are common on this flat immensity and often give the impression that distant mountains are floating on the horizon.
Since we are in winter some parts of the desert is covered with water, which is super concentrated in salt. Put your hand in it and wait a few minutes, once dry it is completely covered with salt. We can’t get enough of the vast immensity of salt and the almost transparent water on the surface of the ground that reflects the sky like a real mirror.
As the sun begins to fall we are about to leave this magical place. But it was not counting on the passion of my friends for racing and their desire to do « like in the races on TV. » We had already seen jeeps out of the way and driving on the salt. I ask them again are you sure you can do it? but YEEEEESSS! Not even 10 meters on the salt … and the car is bogged down! We get out of the car, we try to push it. Nothing. We sink into the wet salt … There is no one, we are the only ones in the salt desert … There is nothing else to do than to wait for the tow truck. And enjoy one of the most beautiful sunset of our life! After two hours of waiting we are back on the road with a black car covered with salt! The repairman has a good laugh because deciding to venture into the salt with a city car is crazy enough but also because obviously the car speed races take place in summer when there is not a drop of water in Salt Flats !! An experience that will make our visit even more memorable in the vast salt desert of Bonneville Salt Flats!
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Really enjoyed this post. These are the sort of trips I like, long road trips with lots of little stop offs. However, at the point I read about you getting your car stuck, I felt my heart jump into my mouth – I’m so afraid of getting stranded in the middle of nowhere. I would have been petrified!! But those sunset pictures are just beautiful, so I guess it was kind of worth it!?