Salt Flats of the western Great Salt Lake Desert were formed through the evaporation of the Pleistocene-era
Lake Bonneville. The salt flats are actually the bed of that once
massive lake which rivaled in size present Lake Michigan. The flats
are composed mainly of potash salts ranging in thickness from less than
one inch to six feet.
In 1827, trapper,
trader, explorer, and frontiersman Jedediah Smith was perhaps the first
white man to cross the salt flats in 1827 while returning from his first
expedition to California. Six years later, Joseph Reddeford Walker,
another trapper, mapped and explored the areas around the Great Salt
Lake and crossed the northern perimeter of the flats while in the employ
Benjamin L. E. Bonneville. It is from Benjamin Bonneville that the
salt flats and prehistoric lake derive their name, although it is unlikely
that Bonneville himself ever saw the flats.