Seeking Solitude and Surprise in Utah's West Desert

Adventure Photography By Kühl Editor

Noted for white evaporite salt deposits from Lake Bonneville, the West Desert of Utah lies in the northern part of Utah between the Great Salt Lake and the Nevada border.

Utah's West Desert

Several small mountain ranges run through and along the edges of the desert, including the Cedar Mountains, Lakeside Mountains, Silver Island Mountains, Hogup Mountains, Grassy Mountains, and Newfoundland Mountains. Pilot Peak in the Pilot Range lies along the western edge of the desert, just across the border with Nevada.

Best seat in the house

Most of the desert receives less than 8 inches of annual precipitation, and the salt crust covering the desert reforms each year when the rain evaporates. Due to the aridity and high elevation - 4,250 feet above sea level - temperatures are cooler than other deserts and drop sharply after sunset. Summer nights are comfortably cool; winter highs are generally above freezing; and winter nights are bitterly cold, with temperatures dropping well below freezing.

The transition between day and night

You can find peace and solitude in the West Desert. You could go for hundreds of miles without seeing another vehicle or human being. This comes with its own risks so make sure you have sufficient gas, food and water when out in the desert.

Reflections of the Milky Way

I love exploring the West Desert. It boasts some of the darkest night skies in Northern Utah. The fact that I can get to it in about 1.5 hours is an added bonus.

The night sky lights up the West Desert

I have visited the West Desert during storms, freezing nights and meteor showers. Every experience has been magical.

Making a wish on a meteor

Sometimes you're surprised with an oasis in the middle of the desert.

Oasis of light

I've had some scary experiences too. One involved walking over a rattlesnake in the dark. I was let off with a warning (the loudest rattle ever!).

Let off with a warning from local inhabitant

There are few herds of wild horses that roam the West Desert. Watching them in their natural environment is pure bliss. Please be respectful and photograph them from a distance. They are protected by federal law too.

Wild horses at play

In spite of visiting the West Desert over the last 2 years, I have barely scratched the surface. I've mostly explored it at night and considering how the only sunset I shot here turned out, I need to explore it during the day as well.

Sunset over Utah's West Desert


Prajit Ravindran started his photography journey eight years ago. He dabbled in different genres of photography before focusing on landscape photography and traveling to 22 states to capture the natural beauty of the United States. He moved to Utah five years ago and fell in love with the state and its rich, diverse landscape. Prajit is now based in Salt Lake City. He loves to include a human element in his photographs to add a sense of scale and to inject energy into the image. Follow Prajit on Instagram @irockutah.


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