Stansbury Island The dry grasses rustled noisily around my ankles as the smell of salt, earth and desert mingled in the breeze. Below, the Great Salt Lake reflected hues of turquoise and deep blue as a lone pickup rattled along the dirt road leaving a billowing cloud of dust in its wake.

To the east the snowcapped crests of the mighty Wasatch crest shimmer in the valley heat. To the west stretches a vast expanse of desert broken by several mountain ranges. Stansbury island lies at the intersection between the mountains and the desert, between the land and the lake. Multi-faceted and intriguing, the different perspectives one finds on Stansbury Island are what keeps me coming back to explore.

Although not an island today, it was when Howard Stansbury rowed out to the lake in the 1850's to survey the terrain. Now, a dirt causeway and low lake levels allow you to easily drive out to the island to explore. Near the highway, several manufacturers have active salt collection operations. The island itself is not classically beautiful. It is broken and jagged, an intriguing mess from a geologist's perspective.

From high vantages on the trail, you can see the clouds reflected on the lake's surface or admire small wildflowers peppered into the grasses. Stansbury island is, in many respects, what you decide to make it. For some, it is desolate and forlorn, unworthy of a second visit. To others, a fascinating place to hike while looking for wild horses traversing the hillsides, a mountain bike ride for when the in-town trails are muddy or cold, or, for photographers, a diverse canvas for watching the play of light and shadow. Whatever your opinion, Stansbury Island deserves a visit, at least once.

Where: Stansbury Island lies approximately 40 miles west of Salt Lake City off Interstate 80. Take exit 84 toward 138-Grantsville, but instead of turning left and going through the underpass, stay right, then follow the road toward Stansbury island. Follow the main dirt road (easily passable in passenger cars) until you reach the short turnoff to an obvious parking lot and trailhead. The BLM Mountain Biking map shows the trail route and elevation. Typically, I prefer to the hike as an out-and-back. Simply hike until you're ready to turn back to the car.

The best times of year to visit are spring and fall. Summer can be very hot and winters cold and windy.