Not many salt lakes exist in the world, but those that do, have fascinating tales. Here in the United States, many people like to visit them for swimming, no, floating, since the density makes swimming impossible.
These lakes range from Utah’s Great Salt Lake to Rhode Island’s Trustom Pond. Salt lakes are a fascinating natural phenomenon, so let’s delve into what lies behind those in the United States and how you can enjoy them.
Table of Contents
- 1. Great Salt Lake – Utah
- 2. Rush Lake – Utah
- 3. Salton Sea – California
- 4. Mono Lake/Soda Lake – California
- 5. Deep Springs Valley – New Mexico
- 6. Zuni Lake – New Mexico
- 7. Grulla National Wildlife Refuge – New Mexico
- 8. Ninigret – Rhode Island
- 9. Quonochontaug Pond – Rhode Island
- 10. Trustom Pond – Rhode Island
- 11. Winnapaug Pond – Rhode Island
- 12. Lake Peigneur – Louisiana
- 13. Soda Lake – Washington
- 14. Walker Lake – Nevada
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Straddling five counties, the Great Salt Lake is the biggest saltwater lake on this side of the Hemisphere and ranks number eight on the globe’s terminal lake list.
The most fantastic site to swim or float in the lake is Antelope Island State Park, where white oolitic sand beaches give easy access to the water without the presence of brine flies that can be found elsewhere along the shoreline. Showers are also available in the beach area for rinsing off the salty water.
The water north of the causeway is a rich red color, indicating its saline chemistry. The North Arm’s red color derives from a bacterium known as halophilic bacteria, which thrives as the salt level rises.
The lake’s water is highly dense due to its high salt content. Most individuals can float more readily than in other bodies of water, especially in Gunnison Bay, the lake’s saltier northern section.
Several islands in the lake serve as necessary breeding sites for a variety of fish species. The Great Salt Lake is never frozen and can quickly warm.
The Great Salt Lake generates 1.3 billion dollars in annual revenue for Utah, with 1.1 billion from industry, 136 million from recreation, and 57 million from brine shrimp harvesting. At the lake’s margin, solar evaporation ponds produce salts and brine.
The lake’s minerals include sodium chloride, used in water softeners, salt lick blocks for livestock and for melting ice on municipal roads; potassium sulfate, used as a commercial fertilizer; and magnesium chloride brine, used in the production of magnesium metal.
US Magnesium has a factory on the lake’s southwest bank that generates fourteen percent of the world’s magnesium supply, more than any other North American magnesium operation. Mineral-extraction firms that operate on the lake pay the state of Utah, which owns the lake, royalty on their goods.
Rush Lake/Reservoir is a saline lake in Tooele County, Utah, where fishing is the chief attraction of the lake, but windsurfing, water-skiing, sailing, and swimming or just sunbathing, are also popular pastimes
The lake, formed by a stream that flows into the Great Salt Lake, varies in size and evaporates roughly two feet each year; however, floods occasionally refill it. The average elevation on the ground is 4,951 feet.
The Rush Lake watershed is home to two distinct vegetation communities. Sagebrush grass and pinyon-juniper are the plants in question. The former grows at lower elevations and on the valley floor, whereas the latter grows at higher elevations on mountains alongside other types of alpine flora.
Several different fish species are in the lake. Utah chub, carp, green sunfish, bluegill, largemouth bass, channel catfish, yellow perch, black crappie, and black bullhead are among the most abundant.
Since 1988, when the state placed 71 thousand Largemouth Bass fry into the lake, it has not been supplied with fish.
The Salton Sea is a shallow, landlocked, very saline body of water located in Riverside and Imperial counties in southern California. It lies within the Salton Trough, which reaches the Gulf of California in Mexico, on the San Andreas Fault.
The Colorado River has flowed into the Imperial Valley for millions of years, depositing alluvium (soil), generating lush agriculture, raising the terrain, and shifting its main channel and river delta.
The river has alternated between flowing into the valley and diverting around it for thousands of years, creating a saline lake named Lake Cahuilla or a barren desert plain.
The lake level depends on river flows and the balance between input and evaporative loss when the Colorado River flows into the valley. The lake dries up thoroughly when the river diverted around the valley, as it did around 1580.
Hundreds of archaeological sites have been discovered, perhaps indicating long-term Native American communities and camps.
Soda Lake is a terminal lake that originated more than 700 thousand years ago. The lack of an exit allows the lake to collect significant levels of salts making the water alkaline.
Many limestone columns rise above Mono Lake’s surface. Calcium carbonate minerals such as calcite make up the majority of these limestone towers. Tufa is a name for limestone that occurs at low to moderate temperatures and describes this type of limestone rock.
Mono lake has a precious ecosystem established on brine shrimp. They flourish in the lake, which furnishes a virtual environment for two million migratory birds each year that feed on the shrimp and alkali flies. Historically, the alkali flies’ pupae, which live in the shallow waters near the lake’s shore, were eaten by the native Kutzadika’a people.
When the city of Los Angeles diverted water from the lake’s freshwater streams, the lake level dropped, putting migrating birds at risk. In response, the Mono Lake Committee created and won a legal struggle that forced Los Angeles to relinquish control of the lake.
Deep Springs Lake is a seasonal salt lake that dries out in the summer to form a salt pan. The surface water refills in late spring by flows from adjacent springs and snowmelt from Wyman and Crooked creeks, which enter the valley from the north.
During the spring and fall migrations, birds and bird watchers gather at the Lake. Numerous springs, some artesian, surround the lake, giving the valley its name.
The Deep Springs Black Toad, also known as the exile toad, lives in the springs and is an endemic species found exclusively in Deep Springs Valley.
Zuni Salt Lake, also known as Zuni Salt Lake, is a classic maar and a rare high desert lake, located in Catron County, New Mexico, about 60 miles south of the Zuni Pueblo. During the wet season, Zuni Salt Lake is exceedingly shallow, with a depth of only four feet.
Much of the water evaporates during the dry season, leaving behind salt flats. In 1999, the National Register of Historic Places added it to their register. The Red Hill volcanic field encompasses Zuni Lake.
The Taos pueblos, Hopi, Laguna, Acoma, and Zuni, have conducted annual pilgrimages to Zui Salt Lake to harvest salt for culinary and ceremonial purposes for millennia.
From the lake, old pathways extend out to numerous pueblos and ancient pueblo sites, such as Chaco. The lake itself is sacred, as it is the home of the Zui’s Salt Mother deity, Ma’l Okyattsik’i. Early Hispanic settlers in the area called it Las Salinas.
Grulla National Wildlife Refuge sits in Roosevelt County, New Mexico, southwest of State Highway 88 and the Texas-New Mexico border. A minor portion of the refuge sits in western Bailey County, Texas.
The Grulla National Wildlife Refuge sits on an ephemeral salt lake, also known as a saline playa. This shallow basin absorbs runoff from the surrounding drainage area during heavy downpours but quickly dries out due to evaporation.
This saline playa is referred to as “Salt Lake” on current USGS topographic maps and most commercially available maps of the region. It was part of the DZ Ranch in the early 1880s.
The word grulla comes from the Spanish word grulla, which means crane. Sandhill cranes use the playa lake while it’s wet, and other species, including ring-necked pheasants, smaller prairie fowl, and scaled quails, use the grasslands within the refuge when it’s dry.
Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge in Texas manages the refuge, with no facilities other than a parking area and trails. In the mid-2000s, Eastern New Mexico University’s cross-country teams frequently used the area as a cross-country training facility.
Ninigret is a coastal lagoon located near Charlestown, Rhode Island. It is the largest of Rhode Island’s nine lagoons. People use it for leisure purposes as well as the gathering of oysters and quahogs. Geologists have discovered “extensive” archaeological relics along its shoreline.
Ninigret Pond, like others in the area, was formed 12,000 years ago as the glaciers receded. Because the pond sits on low-lying ground, it is particularly susceptible to storm surge flooding. A little waterway connects it to Green Hill Pond.
Quonochontaug is a coastal lagoon located in Washington County, Rhode Island, between Charlestown and Westerly. It’s the saltiest of nine similar lagoons in southern Rhode Island.
The most resounding and most salty of the salt ponds is Quonochontaug Pond. The breach way, reinforced with rock jetties by the US Army Corps of Engineers in the 1950s, connects it immediately to the sea.
Sand eroding from the ocean side of the barrier beach travels through the breach way into the pond, where it settles and generates growing shoals, much as it is in the other ponds. Unlike the other ponds, however, much of “Quonnie’s” western barrier beach is still undeveloped and protected, despite being privately owned.
The Westerly-Charlestown town line runs right down the middle of the pond. Because the pond is quite deep, well flushed by the tides, and has minimal development, water quality has improved in previous years.
Quonnie is the pond with the least amount of modification. The majority of the development is residential, which stays occupied only during the summer.
Quonnie, like the rest of the ponds, is a vital nursery for winter flounder, young striped bass, bluefish, and tautog. The abundance of bay scallops varies from year to year, but in a good year, you can find plenty in this salt pond.
Trustom Pond is a closed lagoon in the town of South Kingstown, Washington County, Rhode Island. One of nine coastal lagoons in southern Rhode Island. It is the only unspoiled salt pond in the state, with 800 acres. The pond is 1.3 feet deep on average and has a salinity of 5 parts per thousand.
Except when storms breach it, it is not tidal. The water receives roughly 219,844,022 US gallons of precipitation each year, with an estimated daily groundwater flow of 796,215 US gallons.
Trustom Pond National Wildlife Refuge is home to an estimated three hundred bird species, forty animal species, and twenty reptile and amphibian species. As a result, it’s a favorite bird-watching spot. The site is home to the Piping Plover.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service received 365 acres of land in 1974; additional donations and purchases increased the protected area to 787 acres. Approximately seventy thousand people visited the wildlife sanctuary in 2010. Trustom Pond NWR has three miles of hiking trails.
The Weekapaug Breachway, built in the mid-1950s, connects Winnapaug Pond, also known as Brightman Pond, to Block Island Sound. A massive sandbar separates the 2.5-mile lake from the Atlantic.
Misquamicut Beach, Atlantic Beach, and Westerly Town Beach are among the beaches that flank the Atlantic side of the sandbar. Its total water quality was rated “excellent” in 2010.
The Winnapaug River is tiny and shallow, making it ideal for kayaking. It’s one of nine coastal lagoons in southern Rhode Island that locals call “salt ponds.”
Lake Peigneur, located on the northernmost tip of Vermilion Bay, is 1.2 miles north of Delcambre and Louisiana’s deepest lake, reaching a maximum depth of 200 feet.
It was a 10-foot-deep freshwater body popular with anglers until November 20, 1980, when an extraordinary manufactured disaster altered its structure and the surrounding land.
The Diamond Crystal Salt Company’s salt mine beneath the lake flooded. At the time, drilling was underway on top of the mine. With a deep hole, the drilling most likely triggered a cascade of circumstances that changed the shallow lake from fresh to brackish water.
The incident led to a sinkhole that swallowed the drilling platform. Eleven barges carried drilling supplies, a tugboat, numerous trees, and 65 acres of the surrounding terrain.
Because there was so much water in the caverns, the Delcambre Canal, which ordinarily empties the lake into Vermilion Bay, was reversed, allowing saltwater from the Gulf of Mexico to pour into the now-dry lakebed. This backflow formed Louisiana’s largest waterfall, at 164 feet, for a few days.
Within the Potholes Irrigation Canal, Soda Lake is a 200-acre expanse. You can catch Panfish, Walleye, and Bass in this lake. During the fall, rainbow trout fingerlings are in abundance there.
Migrating fish from the nearby Potholes Reservoir has a significant impact on the fish community in Soda Lake. Two-pole fishing is permitted, and the location is suitable for ice fishing.
Unless you went out of your way to find it, you’d never know it existed. Soda Lake is an artificial lake located a few miles south of O’Sullivan Dam. It serves as a supplemental retaining pool for the Potholes East Canal, the massive Bureau of Reclamation Columbia Basin Project. A dike dam on the south diverts runoff water from Potholes reservoir into the canal.
With boat ramps on both sides, Soda Lake is a famous fishing lake. Numerous picnic shelters are available at the north public entrance for dessert meals. The lake also lies within the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge, which is a famous scenic beauty.
Walker Lake lies in Western Nevada, at the mouth of the Walker River. The Walker River is one of three major rivers that drain the Sierra-Nevada Mountains’ east side, and it supports riparian, wetland, riverine, and desert lake ecosystems at its mouth.
Walker Lake is a relic of the historic Lake Lahontan that used to cover a large portion of the state throughout the Ice Age. Walker Lake is surrounded on both sides by arid, craggy, poorly vegetated, and steep hills in the Range and Basin Provinces.
At 11,245 feet, Mt. Grant, on the west side of the lake, heads the Wassuk Range. Walker lake has a tiny marshland area, primarily in its southern boundary.
The lake’s periphery is either devoid of vegetation in most sections or is home to the undergrowth.The Wassuk Range feeds the lake with isolated springs and tiny rivers.
Q. What happens if you swim in the Great Salt Lake?
A. Swimming there is an entirely distinct occurrence than swimming in a regular pool. You’ll find that the water is warm and lovely even in the early summer. Even though salt heats the water, there are also disadvantages as you will get stung if you have open wounds.
Q. What causes the pungent odor at the Great Salt Lake?
A. In most hyper-saline conditions, bacteria prefer to reduce sulfate, resulting in hydrogen sulfide, which is the reason behind the rotten egg odor. GSL is low in oxygen and shallow hence the extreme salinity.
Q. Can you find alligators or sharks in the great lake?
A. Sharks are a no, and alligators are uncommon, especially since they hate the cold up north but don’t mind entering salty water sometimes.