Blue Lake, Utah

J.S. and S.W. Aber
Brian Graves

Panoramic view of Blue Lake vicinity. Made by stitching together two ground shots taken from observation point on west side of Blue Lake.

Blue Lake is an oasis in the Utah West Desert, south of Bonneville Salt Flats, approximately 15 miles south of Wendover, Nevada. Geothermal springs of fresh water support a relatively rich wetland environment and feed several pools, of which Blue Lake is the deepest. The surroundings consist of salt flats, rocky outcrops, and desert scrub vegetation. The property is part of the Utah Test and Training Range (U.S. Air Force), but the site is operated by the state of Utah as a wildlife management area with open access to the public. Because the pools remain warm year round, the site attracts wildlife as well as scuba divers.

In October 2006 we visited Blue Lake for kite aerial photography and to test a model airplane for the same purpose. The airplane was built and flown by Brian Graves using inexpensive components. The airplane has a body and wings of styrofoam, which makes it quite light, resilient, and easy to repair. It's powered by a small electric motor and operated with conventional radio controls. A small digital camera was mounted in the cockpit to take oblique views toward the side.

Closeup view of model airplane with camera mounted for oblique views.
Brian Graves prepares to launch the model airplane by hand.
Model airplane in flight above the Blue Lake vicinity.

The day was completely clear, but wind was light and variable. We were able to fly our large rokkaku only for a few minutes before wind became calm. These conditions were perfect for the model airplane, however. So between the two systems, we acquired several good pictures overviewing Blue Lake and surroundings.

Kite flyers at the lower end of the tether line.
KAP view toward the northwest over a pool in the Blue Lake complex.
Model airplane view toward the west, showing pools along the western edge of the Blue Lake complex.
Model airplane view toward the east depicting the main pool at Blue Lake (center). The boardwalks and dock are used by scuba divers to access the lake.
Model airplane view beyond the southeastern side of Blue Lake.
Model airplane shot of Blue Lake boardwalks with the rokakku kite in lower left corner.

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All text and imagery © by the authors.
Last update Dec. 2006.