Are you ready to see some epic senior pictures from our recent trip to the Salt Flats? Grab a Dr. Pepper (or beverage of choice) and settle in. Because this is going to be a doozy….and by doozy I mean AMAZING!
My son is going to be a senior next year and therefore senior pictures are coming. I also have a niece and nephew who are also going to be seniors so I started thinking about how we could do something spectacular. After some serious researching (read:browsing Pinterest) I found the Salt Flats in Utah. Trying to coordinate the schedules of 3 teenagers who are all in sports was difficult. Add in COVID and it was almost impossible. When push came to shove, it just ended up being me, McKenzie and Makai. I wish all of the moms (and Josiah) could have come, but it was still amazing.
This post is mostly going to outline the trip and be iphone photos. Stayed tuned for the beautiful professional pictures!
We found tickets to Salt Lake City for less than $100 round trip. Score! At one point they were only $47 but we had to book last minute because of several factors. We flew on Delta and I was very impressed. They left every middle seat empty and it was a great experience (if only my bag had flown for free it would have been perfection). Even though the middle seats were empty, these two wanted to sit by each other…awwww.
One of the major highlights of the trip was….airport McDonalds 🙄😂. Makai is obsessed and thinks that airport McDonalds tastes better…and I must say that it was pretty darn good.
A rental car is a must because the Salt Flats are about 90 minutes from Salt Lake City. The first day we flew in, walked around downtown (and stumbled on a Christmas movie set) and had dinner.
The major highlight for me was spending time with my son and my niece. We had the greatest time and I will cherish this memory FOREVER!
We stayed the night in Salt Lake at a hotel near the airport. The next day we leisurely got up (the kids did some homework) and then we headed down towards the Salt Flats (after some In and Out of course).
We explored the area and scoped out where we were going to shoot.
We checked in at our hotel (the Best Western) in Wendover, which is the closest town to the Bonneville Salt Flats. It was nice and clean, had a yummy breakfast and a nice indoor pool/hot tub. Wendover is half in Utah and half in Nevada and it was pretty funny to drive over the state line in the middle of the town and immediately have casinos all over the place. We tried to have dinner at a casino one night (because it was highly rated) but the wait was really long and there was so much cigarette smoke (not used to that!). Instead, we ended up at a local pizza place and it was Yummy! We did pictures at the rest stop (more about that below) in the evening and then stayed in Wendover that night. The next morning we got up before dawn and headed to the Bonneville Race Track to do sunrise pictures. Then we came back to the hotel, packed up and drove back to Salt Lake and flew home. It was a whirlwind 48 hour trip.
What Are the Salt Flats:
The Salt Flats are a dried up lake bed with salt deposits. It has the beautiful mountains in the background and in the spring and fall it has water which creates the most amazing reflections. It is literally in the middle of nowhere and right off the highway! One of the reasons I really wanted to take pictures here is because of the mountains (Coloradans love mountains) and the reflection. I was really hoping there would be water when we got there and I was SO happy to see the water when we arrived!
What We Learned:
- Buy/bring cheap flip flops. When we first got to town we stopped at the dollar store and got some sunglasses (it is bright on the salt flats) and some flip flops. I had heard that the salt can be rough on your feet and also that it is messy. I am SO glad we made that choice. The salt flats are indeed rough on your feet (especially at the Bonneville track area) and it is VERY messy. Go pick up a pair of cheap flip flops. Of course my son picked the pink flip flops that said “Bridesmaid” on them and the baby sunglasses. He makes me laugh and want to give him the evil eye at the same time….but it was only $2 so I laughed. Of course he didn’t have them on in the picture below but I bet you can spot them in some pictures, especially our sunrise one as it felt like you were walking on crushed glass.
2. You will get salt everywhere if there is water on the flats. I didn’t know it was going to be so hot so I didn’t bring any shorts (as seen in the photos above). Therefore I also bought a really cheap pair of pajama pants and rolled them up to become shorts. Then when it came time to go, we thanked the $1 flip flops for their service and deposited them in the trash can at the hotel.
3. Stay in Wendover. It is a 5-10 minute drive to the salt flats and it is a decent town with plenty of food and hotel options. If you had a really tight timeframe you could fly into Salt Lake early in the morning and drive directly to the Salt Flats. You could shoot that evening, stay in Wendover, shoot again in the morning and then drive back to Salt Lake and fly out making it a one night stay. It sounds exhausting but it is doable.
Where To Go:
There are two places where you can take pictures on the Salt Flats. One is literally at a rest stop on I-80. It is called the “Salt Flats Rest Area” and is on the North side of I-80. This is a nice big rest area with bathrooms, covered parking and a water spout to wash the salt off. It is a huge area and you can walk forever to find a cool spot to take pictures. The crowds were decent when we were there at sunset (probably 100+ people) but everyone was pretty spread out. Of course I had to photoshop quite a few people out of the back of my images but that is okay. We had to walk through about ankle deep water to get to the part where it was really reflective. This area wasn’t too bad on the feet. The kids didn’t mind going without shoes but I have sensitive feet so I wore my flops the entire time (and kicked water up all over myself). Sunset is over the mountains making this the best option for sunset pictures. It is SUPER bright so the best pictures were just before and just after sunset. The ones we did earlier were really bright and the kids had a hard time keeping their eyes open because of the reflection.
The other spot is the actual Bonneville Flat raceway (about 2 miles down on I-80 and then 6 miles back towards the mountains). In the fall, they have a big race and it holds the fastest land speed record. You can drive on the flats year round although it is a little risky in the spring because the water can make it mushy and you can get stuck. While we were there, there was a 100 mile and 50 mile running race (no thank you) going on. It didn’t make it too crowded but I think if that wouldn’t have been going on there would have been way less people there. This area was perfect for sunrise and we lucked out with a day that had sun but also clouds. There were FAR less people there at sunrise (probably only 3-4 other groups). The sunrise photos are my favorite so it was totally worth it to get up early. This area was SO painful to walk on….like shards of glass. The kids only took their flops off for photos and then would immediately put them back on. Even standing on it was super painful. There was also less water here and it was only about an inch deep. Still messy but not as bad.
Tomorrow I will show you all of the amazing images. For now…enjoy these funny pictures. I love these two.
Want to see more senior picture adventures? Check out when we went to the Great Sand Dunes in Southern Colorado.