Places We Protect

Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve

Utah

A long boardwalk through a marsh ends in a covered pavilion.
Great Salt Lake Pavilion at the Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve. © Stuart Ruckman

Protecting one of the western hemisphere's most important stopovers for migrating birds for 15 years.

Overview

Description

Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve

The Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve spans 4,400 acres of wetlands and uplands habitat along the eastern edge of the Great Salt Lake—one of Utah’s most unique natural treasures. As the largest saline lake in the Western Hemisphere, the Great Salt Lake is crucial to both people and nature. The lake is a rich feeding ground for migratory shorebirds and waterfowl, supporting between four and six million migratory birds as they journey from as far north as the Arctic to southern points in Central and South America.

Some of the largest gatherings of wildlife ever recorded on the Great Salt Lake have been observed from the preserve’s visitor center, making it a birdwatcher’s paradise as well as the perfect place for visitors to appreciate the importance of the Great Salt Lake.

Download the audio tour before you visit, and make your phone your personal tour guide. You can also take the tour remotely! 

Location

The preserve is along the eastern shore of the Great Salt Lake between Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area and the Antelope Island State Park Causeway.

You may have noticed some construction activity on your way to the Preserve. This work is part of the new West Davis Corridor.

Over the past 10 years, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) has worked closely with the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) to develop a plan to mitigate impacts to wildlife and the Preserve posed by the new highway. For example, as part of the mitigation plan UDOT agreed to lower the profile of the highway, utilize quiet pavement and limit lighting. Finding pragmatic solutions and offsetting threats is an important part of TNC’s mission to protect Utah’s natural world for future generations.

You can find more information about the highway and the mitigation plan at westdavis.udot.utah.gov

Why TNC Selected This Site

The Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve (formerly called the Layton Wetlands Preserve) was The Nature Conservancy's first preserve in Utah. The wetlands of the Great Salt Lake provide important nesting and foraging habitat for over 250 species of birds. The lake is a critical link in the Pacific Flyway between North and South America.

In fact, so many birds (between four and six million!) visit, feed and nest at the lake and its wetlands annually, it has been named as one of only seventeen sites of Hemispheric Importance in the Western Hemispheric Shorebird Reserve Network, an internationally important designation.

Wings & Water Wetlands Education Program

The Nature Conservancy uses this preserve as a platform for community education and outreach programs that benefit Utahns and visitors from around the world. In partnership with Utah State University Botanical Center, The Nature Conservancy brings 2,500 4th graders to the preserve each year through the award-winning Wings & Water Wetlands Education Program. This hands-on wetlands learning experience includes targeted lessons and is designed to meet core curriculum science standards. 

Going Green

As part of The Nature Conservancy’s strategies to reduce its footprint, we’ve initiated a solar program that aims to offset 100 percent of the energy use at our six main facilities, including the Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve. Through a grant generously provided by the John B. and Geraldine W. Goddard Family Foundation, we’ve installed roof-mounted solar panels and ground-mount arrays at the Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve Visitor Center.

By making our operations greener and cleaner, we can help mitigate the effects of climate change both here at home and around the world.

What TNC Has Done/Is Doing

The Nature Conservancy has worked for more than 20 years to protect the Great Salt Lake and its wetlands. Conservation strategies implemented by TNC range from land acquisition and community outreach and planning to partnerships with government agencies, public committees, and private conservation groups. TNC’s Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve protects over almost 11 miles of critical wetland and upland habitat along the Lake’s eastern shore.

Another key initiative is TNC’s work with Davis County communities and Envision Utah to help implement innovative strategies to promote balanced growth while preserving wildlife habitat and open space.

In a new effort to ensure the long-term health of the Great Salt Lake ecosystem, TNC is now working with various partners to support the effort to create numeric water quality standards for the Lake.

TNC is thrilled that the visitor center offers easy access to the preserve, serving as a hub for our education and outreach programs, which include naturalist-guided tours for school groups and the public during birdwatching seasons. To learn more, contact our office at 801-531-0999.

Access

OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

Pets are not permitted; help us protect wildlife and leave your pets at home.

Hours

Visitors may experience the Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve any time of year. The visitor center is open every day:

March to October: 6am to 9pm
November to February: 7am to 6pm

Highlights

Walk the boardwalk to see plants of the freshwater marshes, mud flats, salt marshes and adjoining uplands. Enjoy the large concentration of birds, including snowy plovers, American avocets and black-necked stilts, and a variety of waterfowl. Download the audio tour before you visit, and make your phone your personal tour guide.

Size

Roughly 4,400 acres

Explore our work in Utah

Audio Tour

Download the audio tour before you visit, and make your phone your personal tour guide.

What to See: Plants

A mosaic of habitat types is present, primarily in response to hydrology and the influence of salts in the soil. You will see freshwater marshes, mud flats, salt marshes and adjoining uplands. The close association of these habitat types insures a high level of natural diversity.

What to See: Animals

You’re sure to spot a few stunners to check off your birding bucket list at the Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve. The preserve’s walkway and observation tower offer prime birdwatching year-round. Look for American avocets, black-necked stilts and white-faced ibis. You can also see large numbers of waterfowl, including redhead, cinnamon teal, mallard and gadwall. Download the audio tour before you visit!

Conditions

The visitor center features an open-air pavilion, 30-foot-high observation tower, and mile-long boardwalk trail through prime bird-watching habitat. Educational exhibits along the boardwalk offer inspiring lessons about the Lake's birdlife, habitats and the need for its protection.

How to Prepare for Your Visit

When visiting the Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve, be sure to bring water and mosquito repellant, and wear appropriate clothing.

Please note that pets are not permitted; help us protect wildlife on the preserve and leave your pets at home.

Large Groups

If your group includes more than 15 people or if you are interested in a 4th-grade Wings & Water naturalist-guided fieldtrip, please contact Andrea Nelson at 801-238-2330 or at anelson@tnc.org.

Scout Programs

The Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve is the perfect place for troops all along the Wasatch Front to earn badges and patches, hold meetings, or complete service projects.