ANTELOPE ISLAND -- It's only been a state park for four decades, but it's as much a part of Utah's history as salt and Seagulls.
As the largest of the Great Salt Lake's nine islands, Antelope Island is a historical and ecological wonder in the Top of Utah's own backyard.
The island can be accessed from a 7-mile causeway from Syracuse; and from afar, its 28,022 acres appear barren and deserted, but it's home to a variety of flora and fauna native to the Great Basin region.
It's also home to an expansive variety of wildlife.
Although the island was actually without its namesake -- the antelope -- for many years, the animal was reintroduced in 1996.
"In the 1920s, all the Pronghorn Antelope were shot or killed off," said Ron Taylor, Antelope Island State Park manager. "But we have them out here now, which is nice."
Today, mule deer, sheep, bobcats, coyotes, porcupine, badger, and many varieties of birds and waterfowl also call the island home.
But perhaps the most famous animal on the island is the American Bison.
First introduced in 1893, there are currently about 700 bison roaming the island.
Park officials manage a herd of about 500 bison, with 250 males and 250 females, but those animals breed and create an offspring of an additional 200 or so, Taylor said.
The world-renowned herd is managed by the Utah Division of Parks and Recreation and visitors are welcome at the island's buffalo corral and management facilities.
During the annual bison roundup each November, visitors can get a close-up look at the bison and the techniques used on a working buffalo ranch.
"We use the roundup to cull out those extra 200," Taylor said. "We want to make sure the herd is healthy and doing well."
Taylor said other than when they are at the ranch and in stables, the bison are not supplemented and feed off the island's natural sustenance.
As for the state park located on the island, it was established in 1970 as part of the Utah State Parks system.
On the east side of the island, 11 miles south of the causeway, sits the Fielding Garr Ranch, the oldest non-Native American building in Utah that is still on its original foundation.
The ranch is located at Garr Springs, one of the strongest springs and one of 40 springs on Antelope Island.
Animals and indigenous people used this water source long before the ranch was built by Fielding Garr, a Mormon settler.
"We've never found any Native American dwellings out there," Taylor said. "But we've found several indicators that the area was once used for hunting."
State parks in Utah
Anasazi State Park Museum
Antelope Island State Park
Bear Lake State Park
Camp Floyd / Stagecoach Inn State Park Museum
Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park
Dead Horse Point State Park
Deer Creek State Park
East Canyon State Park
Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum
Escalante Petrified Forest State Park
Flight Park State Recreation Area
Fremont Indian State Park and Museum
Frontier Homestead State Park Museum (formerly Iron Mission)
Goblin Valley State Park
Goosenecks State Park
Great Salt Lake State Marina
Green River State Park
Gunlock State Park
Historic Union Pacific Rail Trail State Park
Huntington State Park
Hyrum State Park
Jordan River Off-Highway Vehicle Park
Jordanelle State Park
Kodachrome Basin State Park
Millsite State Park
Otter Creek State Park
Palisade State Park
Piute State Park
Quail Creek State Park
Red Fleet State Park
Rockport State Park
Sand Hollow State Park
Scofield State Park
Snow Canyon State Park
Starvation State Park
Steinaker State Park
Territorial Statehouse State Park Museum
Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum
Utah Lake State Park
Wasatch Mountain State Park
Willard Bay State Park
Yuba State Park
Source: Utah State Parks