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Outdoors: One day, 200 miles, three Great Salt Lake refuges

Outdoors » Birds — and birders — flock to trio of free wildlife areas.

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Diana Voss, a Division of Wildlife Resources employee who operates the center, usually can offer information on which birds can be seen. On a recent day, she pointed out great blue herons sitting on the top of tall nests and said some sandhill cranes had been in the area.

"There is a barn owl in the nesting box," she said. "That’s good news. Their population is down."

At a glance

Farmington Bay » The Farmington Bay north entrance to Goose Island is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m . The Robert N. Hasenyager Great Salt Lake Nature Center is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and features a boardwalk and gravel trail, two buildings with interpretive displays and marsh viewing areas. To reach Farmington Bay, take I-15 Exit 322 and drive north on the east frontage road to Glover Lane. Turn left, taking a bridge over I-15. One entrance is at 1325 West. Take that road north. The Nature Center is located at 1700 W. Glover Lane.

Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve » The area is open seven days a week. From April to September, hours are 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. From October through March, hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Facilities include a mile-long boardwalk, restrooms and an outdoor visitor center. To reach the preserve from Salt Lake City, go north on Interstate 15. Take Exit 332 and drive to Gentile Street in Layton. Drive west on Gentile Street to 3200 West. Turn south there. The preserve is at the end of the road.

Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge » The visitor center is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and is closed on Sunday. The refuge is located approximately 50 miles north of Salt Lake City. It can be reached from Interstate 15 by taking the Forest Street exit at Brigham City. The James V. Hansen Visitor Center and a boardwalk around the wetlands is located just west of the interstate. Drive 13 miles farther and take the 12-mile driving tour loop, open daily from sunrise to sunset.

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Kent and JoAnn Callahan, of Farmington, come to the area about three times a week.

"I like the silence," said Kent. "You are so close to the freeway, but it just feels like you are away from it."

That is a key to the enjoyment of the experience at all three refuges. Though relatively close to the heavily populated Wasatch Front, the refuges live up to their name. They are not only refuges for birds but a peaceful place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.


Twitter: @tribtomwharton

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