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5 Tips for Your First Visit to the Spiral Jetty

Located 2.5 hours north of Salt Lake City, Utah, the Spiral Jetty is one of the most famous works of earth art. Created by Robert Smithson in 1970, this piece used rock from the local area to create a coil. The artist wanted to bring attention to an often forgotten part of the Great Salt Lake.

At one point the earthwork was completely submerged by the Great Salt Lake for 20 years! When lake levels are low, you can see the rocks in person. You may want to visit in the late summer when the northern end of the Great Salt Lake turns pink. This is because of bacteria that live in the high salt content water. The pink water is considered safe and creates some epic photos for your travels! Here are 5 tips for your first visit to the Spiral Jetty:

Stop at Golden Spike National Park for Maps

If you are visiting the Spiral Jetty, stop at the Golden Spike Visitor Center for a map. It’s always fun to talk to park rangers about the area and get tips for the day. They usually have great recommendations and can give you a heads up on trail conditions. If the visitor center is closed, you may be able to pick up Spiral Jetty maps outside the building. This is also a good spot to stop for your last chance to use the restroom!

Visit in the Evening for Sunset Views

Sunsets are fantastic in Utah, so consider visiting the Spiral Jetty in the afternoon. The sun will start to set in the west and will create a beautiful sunset on the water. However, there are no lighting fixtures out there, so bring a flashlight! Visiting during the day is great too, there is not a wrong time to visit. There is no coverage, so bring sunglasses, sunscreen, and a hat if you decide to walk along the lake. Pro Tip: Check the weather ahead of time so you are prepared when visiting this remote location! Extreme weather is possible and can be unpredictable.

Leave the Sports Car at Home

The Spiral Jetty is located in a remote area, so consider leaving your low-to-the-ground cars at home. Once you leave the town of Corrine, UT, it gets pretty rural very quickly. You will travel on a dirt road for about 80 miles round trip to visit the Spiral Jetty. Dirt roads not only get your car dirty but can be harder to navigate with non-4×4 vehicles.

Pack Water & Snacks – the Spiral Jetty Is at a Remote Location

Once again, the drive out to the Spiral Jetty is about 40 miles from the nearest gas station. Once you go arrive at the site, please remember that this is a remote location. There are no services, aka no restrooms, no traffic lights, and most likely no cell service. If you have an emergency, the nearest cell service and EMTs are pretty far away. Pack water, snacks, a spare tire, and make sure you have enough gas for the trip. Always remember to take your trash with you!

Be Patient

This location is so remote that many people never choose to visit the Spiral Jetty in person. When driving towards or back from the location, be patient. You may visit when everyone else is and drive behind several vehicles. Or you may encounter a cow traffic jam, as there are multiple cows in the area to and from the lake. Be patient and know that you will get to where you are going eventually. Read more about visiting the Great Salt Lake.

Visiting the Spiral Jetty is a fun experience you can add to your list of outdoor things to do in Utah. While there are BLM sites in the general area, camping and campfires are not allowed on site. Additionally, this is Utah, so keep in mind that many local restaurants will be closed on Sundays. You may have to pack a meal or ensure that you make it back to SLC before everything closes by 8 p.m. If your trip to the Spiral Jetty has you wanting more, consider visiting the Sun Tunnels by Nancy Holt. This is another extremely remote artwork in the Great Basin Desert, about 4 hours west of Salt Lake City.

Have you seen the spiral jetty?

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  • Linda jane

    The Spiral Jetty sounds like an amazing place to visit! Your pictures are stunning! Thanks for sharing!

  • Krista

    This sounds amazing to visit! It reminded me of an off the beaten path beach we drove to in southern Spain – no one else was there because it took ages to drive to on a very uneven gravel road.

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