Snorkeling in Utah? The Bonneville Sea Base

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Recently, I have been very close to convincing my wife how much fun it would be to go snorkeling. I've used a snorkel underwater in a very controlled environment (i.e., a swimming pool), and have been fascinated with the concept of being able to enjoy life under the water for extended periods. As such, I have been constantly trying to convince my wife that it would be easy, simple to accomplish, and fun for everyone.

Until recently, she has been very against the whole idea. We then began to watch Shark Week videos (purchased the DVD release from Costco for $19.00!), and she finally came over. The thing is, she loves sharks. Probably because she is so afraid of them (she still leaps into my lap when I get her to watch Jaws). Regardless, she is interested in seeing them in the "wild", or at least as close as she can get to it.

Then, just for fun, I started to price snorkeling gear on the internet. Costco has a kit with a bag that was released by US Divers for $29.99. This means that of all the extreme sports that I am trying to get her interested in, it seems to be the least expensive. This is great, because it fits into some future dreams of mine.

Anyway, while I was checking it out, I was trying to think of places we could go in order to learn how to snorkel. In essence, as long as you can swim, you can snorkel. My wife isn't the best of swimmers, but she is willing to work at it. Also, I hope to have our son started in swimming lessons this next year, just in case (i.e, he would love it too). So, the first step is to go swimming, and try to teach her how to swim properly. That shouldn't take too long, perhaps the rest of the summer, and then we will be ready to go snorkeling.

But where to go? We could go on vacation and snorkel there, but Mexico is fairly far away, and it takes months to get a Passport (for my wife at least, I just need to update mine which takes less time). So, I started checking out local alternatives.

Freshwater Snorkeling
Very popular in the Great Lakes area back East, freshwater snorkeling can be fun and challenging. The fish are not as brightly colored, but you can see trout and bass up close, as well as bluegill and catfish. In the area, there are small freshwater ponds that surround the Great Salt Lake, all of which have fish stocks that can make for really interesting viewing. One can also watch the Crayfish populations, such as those in the Grantsville reservoir. I started planning trips in my head to little ponds and lakes in the area that would provide a good place to snorkel.

Seawater Snorkeling in Utah?
Then I saw an advertisement for the Bonneville Sea Base. I thought it was just another freshwater pond, but it turns out that they have marine life there, and you can swim among them. Marine Life, in Utah? Granted, we have the Great Salt Lake, but it's way too salty for any marine life to survive, let alone too cold.

Well, it appears that there are some hot springs that average 80 degrees throughout the year (70 degrees in winter), and are fed by both salt water and freshwater. The result is a tiny marine oasis in the middle of the Rocky Mountains. it's deep enough (62 feet) for deep dives, as well as several shallow areas perfect for snorkeling. They even have sharks, that is nurse sharks. My guess is that the bait fish necessary for the ecosystem to survive is being fed from the brine shrimp that tend to get into the groundwater, probably from the salt water spring.

Anyway, if you live in Utah, and want to experience real coral snorkeling, then I would highly recommend the Bonneville Sea Base. They even have equipment rental and scuba certification classes. I can't wait until we get the chance to head out there. After all, who would have thought the ocean could be so close?