Visiting the Spiral Jetty at the Great Salt Lake
Chances are if you haven’t heard of the Spiral Jetty at The Great Salt Lake, you’ve probably seen pictures of it on Instagram. As a Utah resident, I’ve heard of the Spiral Jetty but never made the trip to actually see it.
We found ourselves last weekend in “social quarantine” from the Covid-19 outbreak and needed to get out of the house! The Spiral Jetty is a 2 hour car ride from Salt Lake City so this was a perfect way to spend a day outside enjoying the springtime weather here in Utah.
Spiral Jetty in Great Salt Lake
What is the Spiral Jetty and where did it come from?
The Spiral Jetty was a sculpture designed and built by Robert Smithson in 1970 during a drought. Smithson used over 6,000 tons of black basalt rocks and earth from the site. Shortly after the 1500 ft long spiral was submerged under water until 2004. The location has a pink hue in the water due to the presence of salt-tolerant bacteria and algae that thrive in the extreme salinity of the lake’s north arm. This area was isolated from freshwater sources by the building of a causeway by the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1959.
As of March 2020 the level of the lake was listed at 4,193.89 feet and the jetty was fully exposed. You can check the current level of the Great Salt Lake here.
Pink hue water near Spiral Jetty
How to do I get to the Spiral Jetty?
The Spiral Jetty is located in a remote area of Box Elder County in Utah. It is roughly a 2 drive from Salt Lake City. Click on the Google map picture below to get your exact directions from your location.
Traveling Tips – This area is very remote and there is not any cell phone service, gas stations or bathrooms. Be prepared with a full tank of gas and snacks and plenty of water, especially if going on the summer months when the temps can be above 90 degrees.
The last gas station is off the I-15 freeway exit in Corinne, Utah which is about 40 miles from the Spiral Jetty.
The road on your way to the jetty past the Golden Spike National Park is dirt. Most of the road was a good shape with a few potholes to avoid. We had a 4 wheel drive vehicle but that is not required.
There were many signs leading us to the direction of the Spiral Jetty. There is some private property along the route so be respectful of others and just watch for the signs pointing you to the Spiral Jetty.
What is there to do at the Spiral Jetty?
When we were visiting the water level was low so we were able to walk around the jetty and to the shore of The Great Salt Lake. The jetty is honestly somewhat unimpressive from the ground level, so I recommend you hike up from the parking lot area on the trail to get a birds eye view. You will be able to see the pink hue on the water from this perspective.
There were some other visitors who walked out into the water. It is very shallow for a ways out and from a distance the others in the water were only about ankle deep. If you do decide to hang out in the water, bring a towel and maybe an extra pair of shoes to change into. (I would also recommend a plastic bag to put those dirty and wet items in because the water can be stinky!)
As you drive into the parking lot you will see wood remnants of an old pier. This was a short walk from the jetty to get some other neat pictures. It’s best to walk along the embankment to get to these to avoid muddy and stinky areas.
The Spiral Jetty was a perfect destination to check out in a remote location of Utah. Because we were visiting when the visitors center at National Spike Monument was closed, we will be headed out there again sometime. Next time I am going to plan it to stay around sunset!
Don’t forget to check out our other Travel Tips!