The ancient lake bed that became the Bonneville Salt Flats refloods with water each winter—but just a few inches. As a result, raising these tracks even slightly above the bed is all that’s needed to protect them.
At the edge of the Bonneville Salt Flats, rolling hills and dramatic cloud banks made for an interesting afternoon along the Interstate. Off in the distance, there might be rain rolling in—though I don’t remember any rain falling on this particular day.
So flat are the Bonneville Salt Flats that, during the winter months, the region will be covered uniformly by only about one inch of water. This layer is so thin that it can’t support large waves and surface disturbances, resulting in almost perfect reflection of the far-off hills and clouds.
Driving through the Bonneville Salt Flats, home of land speed records and long empty stretches, was a mirage-filled experience in the summer. Traversing the same alien landscape in the winter, following a series of major storms, is a brain-twisting exploration of optics: perfectly smooth surfaces (too shallow to support waves) make perfect clones of every hill and mountainside. This five-shot panorama captures the full scale of the space; I encourage you to click through to the full-size (32.1 MP) image on Flickr and see the detail for yourself.