Mirabilite Spring Mounds
Mirabilite spring mounds are a rare phenomenon only documented in four places in the world: Antarctica, Canadian Arctic, Spain, and Utah. They require certain circumstances to form and are fragile, especially as the temperatures rise. They are not composed of common table salt (sodium chloride—NaCl), but mirabilite (hydrated sodium sulfate—Na2SO4•10H2O), also known as Glauber’s salt. For more information on how these are formed, click here.
As the mirabilite is pushed up in the spring, they form terraces similar to Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone.
These are located inside The Great Salt Lake State Park. There are a few different mounds out along the shore of the lake where the water has receded.
Here are some close up views
When the temperature rises, these mounds get dehydrated and turn to dust and blow away. If they get too wet, they can also be washed away. Because the conditions have to be just right, they are rare. Scientists are studying them, so there are cameras and researchers.
The receded lake has left some kind of weird sand combinations otherwise. It’s slightly stinky and some spots are a bit muddy, but it’s easy enough to navigate around them.
Sometimes it’s fascinating to take a closer look.
Views Across Great Salt Lake
This is an incredible place to photograph the sunset. I was there mid-day, but it was still scenic. I could look north across and see Antelope Island, which is an awesome place to visit. Stansbury is across to the west. If you keep heading quite a bit farther west, you come to the Bonneville Salt Flats.
I have seen awesome images of people sailing on the Great Salt Lake, but I only saw a motor boat this time. There were lots of boats in marina. Because of the high salinity, the lake never freezes, but would not be great for water sports.
Great Salt Lake Marina
Saltair is an event center near the Great Salt Lake State Park.
Stats: Distance – 0-0.5 mile round trip
Difficulty – Easy
Bathrooms – Yes
Seasons to hike – Open year-round (Mirabilite only forms under certain circumstances, most likely in January and February)
Permits needed – $5 day pass per vehicle or Utah State Parks Pass
Pets allowed – Yes