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Bonneville Salt Flats

Bonneville Salt Flats

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The Bonneville Salt Flats are a 159 square mile (412 km²) salt flat in northwestern Utah. The depth of the Salt has been recorded at 6 feet (1.8 m) in many areas. A remnant of the ancient Lake Bonneville of glacial times, the salt flats are now public land managed by the Bureau of Land Management. It is the largest of many salt flats located west of the Great Salt Lake.

The Salt flats are accessible by Interstate 80 and are located northeast of the casino-resort town of West Wendover, Nevada, which 115 miles (185 km) west of Salt Lake City, Utah. Visitors can reach the flats on the Bonneville Speedway exit. West-bound I-80 travelers have an additional rest area overlook.

The Salt flats are perhaps most famous for their use as the Bonneville Speedway for high-speed race cars which have achieved speeds in excess of 600 miles per hour (1000 km/h). Several movies have been filmed at the salt flats, including portions of Independence Day, Warlock, SLC Punk, The Brown Bunny, Cremaster 2 from Cremaster Cycle and The World's Fastest Indian. A scene from the third installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean movie series was filmed on the flats in 2006. In addition, the Pontiac Bonneville, flagship sedan of the Pontiac motor division is named after the salt flats.

Each rainfall erases tire marks and flattens the densely-packed Salt pan that is inhospitable to plants. The area is extremely flat and nearly aligned perfectly with the shape of Earth, allowing visitors to see the curvature of the planet by producing an optical illusion that makes many of the mountains within the vicinity appear to be floating in the air since their bases are on the other side of the curve and thus out-of-sight.

In 2006 the Stardust spacecraft landed safely on the Salt flats; however, in 2004 the Genesis spacecraft crashed into the flats after a failed parachute deployment, damaging the craft.


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Don Vesco

Apr 25, 2007 03:04:11

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