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We were just looking for an epic sunset spot near Salt Lake City, and the unique landscape of Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats kept showing up in our search. So, we made the 1.5-hour, very straight and boring drive out to the middle of nowhere to pick a spot for photos – having no idea what a spectacular, experience we would have on our night out there on that vast white, barren playa.

Brooke and Buddy on the bonneville salt flats as the sun sets behind the mountains behind them

We were amidst the Bonneville Salt Flats long before we actually reached the parking area for visitors. And as we walked out onto the hard salt earth, we were not alone. A dozen or so people were there taking selfies and wondering at this strange place along with us. With a few hours to spare before sunset, we decided to drive out to the Bonneville Salt Flats Speedway to see if our photo opps would be any different and less crowded.

Drone shot of Brooke and Buddy leaning up against the Subaru at the Bonneville Salt Flats with no-one around them

Driving on the Bonneville Salt Flats

Now, I’m very cautious when it comes to exploring in places we can get stuck and stranded at night where no one knows where we are. So, when Buddy suggested we drive out on the flats (which is allowed in this area), I gave him a highly arched eyebrow look and a very hesitant “I don’t know…”

Visitor area for the bonneville salt flats off the main road, and a close up of th salt

Although this area was much firmer than the more popular area 15 minutes away, I was still nervous about hitting a soft patch. Then a truck appeared out of nowhere from somewhere way out there, and a car followed (which was way less off-road friendly than our Subaru). Screw it, let’s go.

Brooke and Buddy at the Bonneville Salt Flats and Buddy in the driver's seat of the Subaru getting ready to have fun

The three other groups there had the exact same thought. Almost simultaneously, we all hopped in our cars and took off. And since Bonneville Salt Flats Speedway is also used as a speed test area, you bet your ass we were all hitting the gas to the floor.

Alone At the Bonneville Salt Flats

As each vehicle sped off into different directions, we found ourselves in our own little play area. It was silent, except for our laughter as we did donuts in the car and goofed off taking photos. Who would have thought the dried up remnants of a giant lake could offer so much fun?

Buddy kneeling down and taking photos at the Bonneville Salt Flats during dusk

We examined the hard, salt ground which looked and felt like a coral reef. What a strangely amazing, desert-like place. And it went on and on for miles. We couldn’t see anyone. There were no plants or life of any kind. Just the mountains behind us and an endless horizon ahead of us. It felt safe and fake and perfect. Like the world had been wiped clean.

Aerial photo of Brooke and Buddy standing outside of the car on the Bonneville Salt Flats

Bonneville Salt Flats Sunset

As we played in and admired this wide-open wonderland, we almost forgot why we were here. But as the sky around us changed to cotton-candy colors and the air got a little cooler, we were reminded to take a moment to enjoy this magic hour in an even more magical place.

Our Subaru on the Bonneville Salt Flats with the sun setting behind the mountains in the background

As the sun slowly lowered behind the neighboring mountains, we decided we weren’t even close to ready to leave. We discovered a strange peacefulness alone on the Bonneville Salt Flats, with miles and miles of nothing but salty land.

Brooke and Buddy hand-in-hand walking on the Bonneville Salt Flats during sunset

It was romantic and soul-filling – one of those places and moments we wish existed more. So simple, yet so immensely rich with wonder.

Night at the Salt Flats

Despite a 1.5-hour drive back to Salt Lake City in the dark that we had waiting for us, we decided to stay and play some more at the Bonneville Salt Flats.

bonneville salt flats at night

We turned on some music and danced outside the car in the light of the moon – which illuminated the glistening salt flats for miles around us. First, we swayed slowly and lovingly. Then, we had our own mini rave and flailed around in circles, jumped up and down and remembered what it was like to just not care. Why are we not silly like that more often? What is it about being in the middle of nowhere, all alone that gives us permission to let our inner children out? Why do we ever take anything seriously?

Having fun with multi-shot photography at night with the car on the bonneville salt flats

After hours of just enjoying the magic, the peace, and the immense joy of experiencing it all together, we finally drove off the Bonneville Salt Flats and back into reality around 10:30 p.m. With tear-filled eyes we shared a look of understanding as we reluctantly reached the pavement.

Brooke and Buddy at the bonneville salt flats as the sun sets behind them

This is why we gave up any semblance of a “normal” or “safe” life plan. Because we knew these moments were waiting for us. We knew we would be forever changed by places that filled our hearts and nourished our spirits. Places that allow us to feel closer to God and each other because the beauty and peace we find there silences all the distractions that separate us. And they were always there, we just had to be ready to find them.

Watch this video of us driving Bonneville Salt Flats for a better feel for what this magical place is like:

Tips for Visiting Bonneville Salt Flats

Getting to Bonneville Salt Flats: The rest area/visitor parking is located off 1-80, about 110 miles west of Salt Lake City, UT, and 10 miles east of Wendover, NV, near the border of the two states. There is also a shoe wash and bathrooms here. The speedway is further west about 10 more miles. Learn more about the Bonneville Salt Flats here.

Our Subaru on the bonneville salt flats at night with stars in the sky and the silhouette of the mountains in the background

If driving on the Bonneville Salt Flats Speedway:

  • Be prepared to be there a while.
  • Drive safely and make sure it is firm enough first. Do not drive if it is wet! It can damage the flats as well as possibly shorting out your vehicle!
  • Keep a light on at night, so no one hits you
  • Bring plenty of water. It is extremely easy to get lost out there.
  • Make sure your phone is charged, in case you need GPS to find your way out.
  • Camping is not allowed.
  • Wash your car as soon as you can afterwards. You definitely want to get all that salt off!
A Fun Night at Bonneville Salt Flats