Bonneville Salt Flats – Wendover, Utah – National Sights Series

Posted on Posted in Featured Articles, National Sight Series, North America, Travel Blogs, United States
Bonneville Salt Flats

After leaving Arches National Park, we headed to Spanish Fork, Utah to visit our two sisters and their families.  We opted to camp out on the shores of Lake Utah in a lovely campground called Lakeside Campground.

We hung out a day or two and decided to head to the Bonneville Salt Flats on our way north to Yellowstone.  We have never been to Bonneville yet know a little about it and wanted to set our own land speed record in our 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee.  On the way to Bonneville, we decided to stop off at the Lehi Roller Mills.  What are those you ask?  They are the flour mills that Ren McCormick (Kevin Bacon) from Footloose worked at and the final dance location.   

We are adding the Lehi Roller Mills because of their historical significance in the area and of course it's in Footloose... one of our favorite movies!   Touted as "ONE OF THE OLDEST CONTINUOUSLY OPERATING FLOUR MILLS IN THE COUNTRY", the Lehi Roller Mill and Elevator Company were started by the Robinson Family to supply flour to Utah and California and turned out its first flour in April 1906. 

 

 

The Lehi Roller Mills- Kick Off Your Sunday Shoes

Bonneville Salt Flats
Bonneville Salt Flats
Bonneville Salt Flats
Bonneville Salt Flats
Bonneville Salt Flats

Footloose Executive Producer, Daniel Melnick, would pass by the roller mills daily on his way to work (can be seen from I-15) and he wanted to shoot parts of the movie there, but first had to get permission from OSHA since it is a working mill and would have a crew and actors hanging around in a clean environment for food production.  The last family member to own the mills, Sherman Robinson, was worried about it too and didn't give the OK right off the bat until OSHA approved it.  The rest is history.  We did find out that the final dance scene was actually filmed at the Osmond Studios, not the Roller Mill.

They Roller Mills look identical to the movies, yet the area around it has been built up significantly.  In the movie, fields surround the mills.  Now, shopping centers and busy roads.  Inside you will find a small store selling pancake mixes, specialty flour, and even some footloose memorabilia.  We sat and spoke to the clerk working there who was lovely and helpful answering all of our questions.  We took some pictures and didn't want to waste too much time before getting to Bonneville.  Everybody cut footloose!  

 

 

Bonneville Salt Flats

Bonneville Salt Flats
Bonneville Salt Flats
Bonneville Salt Flats
Bonneville Salt Flats
Bonneville Salt Flats

The Bonneville Salt Flats in Northwestern Utah is one of the most unique places we have been.  Up  I-80, about 10 miles east of Wendover, Utah lies a rest stop surrounded by a perfectly flat area that looks like it is covered in snow.  Notably, it's extremely bright!  We wore sunglasses simply to look at, for fear of burning our corneas.  The reflections of the cloudless day on the salt was blinding.  We walked out and noticed that it wasn't dry, but has a wet texture to it.  We found out that there are tides that come in daily and the salt can go from dry to wet to underwater in a flash.  This didn't deter us from driving out on the salt in our Jeep and testing out some speed trials of our own.  

 

 

Famous for being the Bonneville International Speedway, many speed land records have been recorded here over the years.  The Jeep got up to a whopping 65 miles an hour before we got a little freaked out and slowed it down.  Even though you are scooting along a flat surface, there is mud under the salt and you can hear it cracking as you drive over it.  Much like ice, we really didn't want to poke through, get stuck and be stranded on the salt flats.  It was fun none the less, although we were a little worried about the salty roads eating up our undercarriage.  For a California Jeep that never saw salted roads before, this was a baptism by fire.  

 

 

The Fastest Motorcycle In The World

Driving Arches National Park

The Salt Flats were formed when the ancient Lake Bonneville dried up.  As water continued to evaporate, salt deposits were left in many areas. We saw a Morton Salt plant along highway 80 on the way to the flats.  back on the highway, we found a path that leads to a stark blue tarp encampment in a sea of white.  Upon closer inspection, we found a racing-crew testing a motorcycle. We didn't get to see it run because the tide was coming up and getting wet, but the crew was there working on the motorcycle and asked us to not post any pictures online for the next few weeks because the yearly time trials were just around the corner.  We agreed and they allowed us to take some pictures.  It was neat seeing the setup and mechanics working on the bike and wished we could have seen it go but we were told the salt was too wet to do race today.  

We found out it was Denis Manning's and his BUB's "SevenStreamliner, a world record holding motorcycle for land speed.  This bike goes over 370 miles an hour.  The guy in the suspenders is Denis a Motorcycle Hall of Fame Inductee and a living legend.  We didn't know this and only knew this after looking it up online.  No wonder everything was so hush-hush, and when a Jeep pulled up with stuff on the roof, he looked upon us with suspicion.  Everyone was very gracious and cordial and Denis spent some time with us telling the history of racing and how the salt flats were made.  He also told us he had special permits to be out there and had scheduled the track with the Bureau of Land Management.  Had we known who they were and what that bike was, we would have stayed a while and bugged them more.  

Here is the link to Jay Leno's Garage where the bike is featured.

This is the YouTube vid of one of the races

Bonneville Salt Flats
Bonneville Salt Flats

 

 

Change In Perspective

Bonneville Salt Flats

We got off the salt, drove to Wendover and spent about 30 dollars at a do-it-yourself carwash washing everything from our shoes, floor mats and the entire jeep top to bottom, inside and out and headed to Yellowstone by way of Idaho. 

I guess sometimes you just stumble upon some stuff that you later find out was something more significant.  Finding Denis Manning and the BUB 7 by chance that day, was coincidental.  At the time we had no idea what we were looking at, and why the initial suspicion.  Denis even told us not to post the pictures on Social Media so the "competition" didn't see what they were doing.  We didn't think twice about it, but until today, we never did post the pictures of the motorcycle.  

Sometime in your life, things are like this.  You stumble upon a Footloose location or the fastest motorcycle on earth.  You really don't know the significance of things until later.  Try to live every day as if it is significant because in all reality every day may be. You might not know until later. 

Sharing is Great! But, please don't forget to subscribe to the blog too!

Somewhat Related Articles

Tell us what you think!