students at the Great Salt Lake

About the Great Salt Lake

Great Salt Lake (GSL) is an under researched and unknown, by many, salt water lake. Great Salt Lake spans about 75 miles long, and 28 miles wide, and covers 1,700 square miles, and is the largest saltwater lake in the western hemisphere. 

GSL is considered a terminal lake because it does not reach the ocean. The water that feeds into GSL, starts in the Wasatch Mountains, travels down the seven canyons where is stops in the lake. The fresh water sources that feed into the lake are, the Bear River, Weber River, and the Jordan River. These tributary rivers continually bring minerals and small amounts salt dissolved into GSL. 

When the water evaporates it leaves minerals and salt, resulting in saltier water over times. The saliently of GSL differs depending on the part of the lake you reside in— the north arm of the lake averages at 28% saliently and the south arm of the lake averages at 12%. GSL is 3 to 5 times saltier than the ocean. The watershed, around GSL, spans over 21,000 square miles and is home to millions of birds each year. These migratory birds stop at GSL to feed, nest, and rest before migrating to the next location. Every year millions of birds from 257 different species rely on the lake. Great Salt Lake has a diverse ecosystem that is continually changing. Many species of plants, invertebrates, reptiles, amphibians, mammals, and birds rely on this lake for survival.

Learn More About Great Salt Lake from the Utah Water Science Center