The western United States is home to some of the nation’s most beautiful natural landscapes, and no visit is complete without a trip from Antelope Island to Fielding Garr Ranch in Utah. Situated in the middle of the largest natural lake in the western United States, the Great Salt Lake, this island places the visitor in the midst of bountiful natural beauty and wildlife.
Fielding Garr Ranch
Fielding Garr Ranch, located in Antelope Island State Park, is a haven for humans and animals alike. Antelope Island State Park can be accessed by Antelope Drive in Syracuse, Utah. It’s $3 per motorcycle at the gate.
Fielding Garr Ranch sits next to Garr Springs, one of nearly 40 springs on the island. The springs support a thriving ecological system. Wildlife abounds, including owls, deer, bison herds, birds, and sheep. It is a peaceful and tranquil location with a long history.
History and Origin of Fielding Garr
Archeological remains indicate that humans have been present in the area for at least 1,000 years. Fielding Garr, a Mormon rancher, built the first permanent structure on the island, a small log cabin, in 1848 to manage the Mormon Church herds.
Garr went on to construct an adobe house and stone corrals. The Mormon Church continued to operate the ranch through the 1870s, using the proceeds from its stewardship to pay for the expenses of fellow Mormons in Europe to travel to Utah.
Now known as the Fielding Garr Ranch, it remained continuously occupied from the time of its erection until 1981, when it became a state park. Primarily serving as a ranching operation, homesteaders came and left the island until the early part of the 20th century when John Dooley Sr. arrived on the island. Dooley purchased the island from the Mormon Church for a reported one million dollars.
Dooley brought 12 bison onto the island at a time when bison were disappearing across the country. Far from a defender of wildlife, he wanted to charge people to hunt them on his island. Still, to this day, bison herds remain – from Antelope Island to Fielding Garr Ranch in Utah.
The compound has expanded dramatically since Fielding Garr first arrived at the ranch that bears his name. Today, the Utah Department of Parks and Recreation carefully maintains the island and its original buildings.
Countless school children visit the ranch on field trips each year. The children learn about its historical, archeological, and ecological significance. For the same reason, it is a memorable visit for adults of all ages.
The entire ranch provides a hands-on experience where visitors sit in saddles, feel real bison fur, examine the original tools hanging on the wall, and appreciate the handmade furniture put together without a single screw or nail. There is plenty to explore apart from the physical structures on Antelope Island. There are countless hiking trails to wander and view Garr Springs, wildlife, and the Great Salt Lake.
Tours of the island and Garr Ranch are self-guided, but volunteers are often present to answer questions. Pack a lunch and spend some time exploring the natural beauty of a place steeped in history. Antelope Island to Fielding Garr Ranch in Utah is an experience to remember.
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