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5 Things to Know about the Bonneville Salt Flats

Rating: The Motorcycle Adventure has a 5 star rating.5    
The Straight Wizz:
Bonneville Salt Flats scenery and history are absolutely captivating.
Do's:
  • Stop at the sign and talk to people
  • Wear sunscreen
  • Ride out onto the salt
  • Soak up the history and inspiration

Don'ts:
  • Flog it down the highway and pass Bonneville
  • Don't catch Salt Fever or maybe this is a "DO"

Visit Bonneville on your Next Motorcycle Trip

If you are planning a motorcycle trip and you are going anywhere close to Nevada, Idaho or Utah, then you have to plan on exploring the Bonneville Salt Flats. This one of a kind landscape is where some of the fastest racers in the world have attempted land speed records. Bonneville is where Mickey Thompson, in 1960, became the first American to break the 400 mph barrier, setting the world land speed record at 406.60 mph. Seems like there is a speed category for everything on Bonneville, like world's fastest Harley Davidson Knucklehead at 152.02 mph and in this year, 2018, the world's fastest production motorcycle was set by the Kawasaki H2 at 209.442 mph (which probably does not surprise anyone.) So if you enjoy any type of motor racing history, then the Bonneville Salt Flats is truly one of the best places to visit on your trip.

Bonneville is Surreal

Standing on the Bonneville Salt Flats is surreal and a little intimidating, knowing that legends have walked on the same grounds and risked their life, all in the pursuit of speed. The actual speedway is bordered on the left by mountains and the right by Highway 80, but looking Easterly down the flats, the only thing you will see is salt and the curvature of the earth.

Let me point out 5 things to know when you travel to the Bonneville Salt Flats:

    1. How to Get to the Bonneville Salt Flats

    The Bonneville Salt Flats are located off of Highway 80 and about 1.5 hours from Salt Lake City. You will then take exit 4 onto Leppy Pass Road. There will be a Sinclair truck stop there, and it is a good place to grab some gas and sustenance. You will keep on Leppy Pass Road until it Y's off to the right onto Bonneville Speedway Road and you stay on that road for about 4 miles until it ends at the beginning of the salt flats. The official address is Bonneville Speedway Road, Wendover, UT 84083. There will be a sign and probably people taking pictures.

    2. Don't Stop at the Sign

    You are going to meet some great people here, so stop at the sign and take in the sights and the feeling of history. Get some good pictures and make some new friends. We met Sunny and Tony from England who had rented a Harley to travel around America, Ted Edwards, a moto-blogger for Bike Bandit, and Jerry and Dave who were two buddies riding and enjoying each other's company. All were just as mesmerized by the flats as we were. Pictures and conversations were easy and new friends were made instantly. The flats are intimidating, especially for motorcycles, so many will end their Bonneville trip at the sign and stay on the pavement. DON'T END YOUR VISIT AT THE SIGN! I know the salt is ever changing, and you will see places along Highway 80 on your drive out where people have been stuck in the salt, but on the actual Bonneville Salt Flats you will have great traction and stability, even for the heaviest bikes.

    3. The Bonneville Salt Surface

    Ride out onto the flats and get use to the feeling of the salt, you will feel like you are in the middle of nowhere. We rode out and got some great pictures of our bikes and then did a down and back to check the salt surface before we made a few speed runs. The path was clear and we lined up side by side. I have to say that the salt offered a great surface and I was surprised how well the tires gripped at a high rpm start. I have gone faster, but hitting 121 on the flats was probably one of the most memorable speed runs I have made. My 2007 Triumph Tiger 1050 ran smooth and true and had more to give, but I felt that I better throw a little caution to the wind and dialed it back in. The second run was even more enjoyable because now I was a little more familiar with the surface, but I just confirmed my 121 mph and reigned it back again.

    4. Salt Gets Everywhere

    One thing that I did not know was how the salt sticks to your vehicle when you hit triple digit speeds. For the official speed runs, during speed week, the competitors need to make two official passes, a down and back run, averaging their time between official mile start and end points. I never considered that on the return speed run these vehicles would have gathered extra weight and loose aerodynamics due to the salt sticking to the vehicle. So if you make a speed run out there, be prepared to take your bike to a car wash later that day because you will have salt coating your bike like icing on a cake. Is it worth making the run? Absolutely!

    5. Make Bonneville Salt Flats Part of Your Motorcycle Trip

    Bonneville is only 1.5 hours from Salt Lake City, and we rode in from Park City after a stay at an AirBnB and ended up at Anderson Camp in Twin Falls Idaho that night. There are casinos with lodging near Bonneville, but we had to stop and lube my buddy's chain and pulled into one of their garages to get out of the heat, and no kidding, it was like a garage out of the series "The Walking Dead." No one had parked there in quite a long time, as indicated by the garbage, dirt and tumbleweeds. Needless to say we lubed up that chain quickly and got the heck out! Also, a word of caution, if you come in from the Idaho side and take Highway 93 out of Twin Falls, watch your speed. Highway 93 is a highly traveled road with patrols and speed traps along the entire length.

The Cure for Salt Fever

Bonneville Salt Flats scenery and history are absolutely captivating. Who knew that a bunch of salt could be unique and inspiring. You will meet great people out there and deepen the motorcycle brotherhood, so don't just flog it down the highway like other motorcycle groups we passed, stop and see what the flats are all about. They say that when you step out onto the Salt Flats that you have a chance of catching Salt Fever and the only cure is coming back every year and going as fast as you can. All I can say is "YUP, and I am in need of the cure!"

Here are a few more pictures:


5 Things to Know About The Bonneville Salt Flats Disclaimer

This adventure write up is intended to give the reader basic information on the Bonneville Salt Flats. It is not intended to be complete in any way. Furthermore, the surface is always changing on the Bonneville Salt Flats, so it will not be in the same condition, use your best judgment and make your own decisions when you visit. All pictures and videos are the property of WizzWare, LLC.