|Great Salt Lake, is the largest salt lake in the Western Hemisphere, the fourth largest terminal lake in the world, and the 33rd largest lake on Earth. In an average year the lake covers an area of around 1,700 square miles (4,400 km²), but the lake's size fluctuates substantially due to its shallowness. For instance, in 1963 it reached its lowest recorded level at 950 square miles (1,529 km²), but in 1987 the surface area was at the historic high of 3,300 square miles(5,311 km²).
The lake is the largest remnant of Lake Bonneville, a pluvial lake which covered much of western Utah in prehistoric times. Great Salt Lake is endorheic (has no outlet besides evaporation), and thus has very high salinity, far saltier than sea water. The Jordan, Weber, and Bear rivers (the three major tributaries) deposit around 1.1 million tons of minerals in the lake each year, and the balance of evaporated water is mineral-free, concentrating the lake further. Because of its unusually high salt concentration, most people can easily float in the lake as a result of the higher density of the water, particularly in the saltier north arm of the lake, Gunnison Bay. The lake's shallow, warm waters cause frequent, sometimes heavy lake-effect snows during late fall, early winter, and spring.
Although it has been called "America's Dead Sea", the lake provides habitat for millions of shorebirds and waterfowl, including the largest staging population of Wilson's Phalarope in the world. In addition to native birds and brine shrimp, the lake is also home, oddly enough, to a Chilean flamingo named Pink Floyd.