From a distance it looks like a big chunk of land, void of life and habitation, out in the middle of a salty sea no one can get close to. Actually, it's quite the opposite. Antelope Island is a hive of activity and a wildlife sanctuary.

So, what's the secret to discovery?To start with, getting on the island. There are two roads - one hits the southern tip and the second the northern tip. The only one open to public transportation is the northern causeway reached by taking the Syracuse exit No. 335 off I-15 and driving as far west as possible. Driving distance from the center of Salt Lake City is 45 miles.

The Division of Parks and Recreation has a toll booth where the mainland and water meet. Entry fees are $7 per car, $3 per bike. The road from the mainland to the island is seven miles long and a great place to stop and view water birds.

Once on the island there is a marina, a new visitors center, campgrounds and buffalo corrals that are home to some bison year-round.

About twice a month interpretive programs will be offered at the visitors center. People can get a schedule by calling the island staff at 773-2941.

There will also be a joint program between the DPR and the Utah Arts Council that will bring in a number of writers to do readings from their works. A schedule for this event iscurrently being worked out.

The island has a Junior Ranger program for children. This is an educational program designed to tell children about the island, its wildlife and vegetation, and its history.

The Fielding Garr Ranch, a popular tourist stop on the eastern shores of the island, is undergoing some fix-up work and is not scheduled to reopen until the spring of 1999. The road to the ranch is also being paved this year.

R and G Outfitters offers horseback and wagon rides. Cost is $20 per hour for a horse and guide, and $15 per hour for just the guide. Guides have access to parts of the island riders alone are not otherwise allowed to go. For reservations call 782-4946.

Salt Island Adventures offers tour boat and sunset dinner cruises from the island marina. The company just put a second tour boat on the water at the Great Salt Lake Marina near Saltair. The company offers boat rentals, sailing lessons and marine supplies. For schedules and costs call 583-4400.

Overnight camping and picnic areas are available on the northern tip. For camping reservations call 322-3770 or 1-800-322-3770.