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Friday, March 18, 2016

Spiral Jetty, Rozel Point Great Salt Lake, Utah

Spiral Jetty

If you live in Utah, you have heard of the Spiral Jetty.  You heard about the rock art that was submerged for years, or maybe you are just a fan of Epic's Spiral Jetty IPA named after this spot, and formed the association there.  Either way, it's just one of those places that you need to see once if you live in Utah.  It's a weird classic Utah site that just makes its way onto everyone's Utah list

Only problem is the Spiral Jetty really isn't all that easy to get to.  It is located about 2 hours north of Salt Lake City, on the Great Salt Lake at Rozel Point in Box Elder County, Utah.  Not only is it far from SLC, but its pretty much far away from everything, and its access down a long dirt road isn't for everyone.  We made the journey on a rainy day in Utah, with a good audiobook on the stereo.  And to really make the trip worth the while, we combined it with a visit to Golden Spike National Historic Site, a fun little spot you pass on your way to Spiral Jetty. If you really want to make this a crazy day full of northern Utah, you can also stop at the Bear River National Migratory Bird Refuge, about 30 minutes out of the way but located in the same general area. 

S0, lets talk about what exactly the Spiral Jetty is.  

Quick and dirty:  
Spiral Jetty
Spiral Jetty
A large art installment composed of rocks in a spiral formation.  Worth seeing once, but overall slightly underwhelming.  The drive out through Northern Utah was beautiful and combining the trip with GSNHS made up for the length of the drive. 

The Long Description: 
The Spiral Jetty isn't really much of interactive attraction, but more of a large art installment. The Spiral Jetty is Robert Smithson's monumental earthwork (1970) is located on Rozel Point of the Great Salt Lake in Utah. The 1,500 foot long coil is 15 feet wide. Robert Smithson used over 6,000 tons of black basalt rocks and earth from the site. He built the spiral in a counter-clockwise direction. Spiral Jetty was acquired by Dia Art Foundation as a gift from the Estate of the artist in 1999. More about the history of the art installment. While here, you can walk the spiral jetty, and take photographs of the gorgeous artwork.

<p>Robert Smithson, <i>Spiral Jetty</i>, 1970. © Holt-Smithson Foundation/Licensed by<br>VAGA, New York. Photo: George Steinmetz</p>

We caught it at really low lake levels, as in there was no water even near the Spiral Jetty.  I was told that when the water levels are just right, the water is just below the rocks and there is a pink hue around the spiral.  This image on the left is from DiaArt.Org and shows the pink hue around the jetty when the water levels are just right.

walking the Spiral Jetty
walking the Spiral Jetty
Extend your trip by taking a walk out and around the SJ.  With the lake levels so low, people were walking all around the jetty and out past the jetty on the salt and sand flats.

walking the Spiral Jetty
Walking the Spiral Jetty

views from Spiral Jetty
Views from the parking area

There are a few important things to know about visiting the Spiral Jetty, mostly related to how damn far it is from everything, and how it's not the easiest place to access.

  1. First off, it's located just under 2 hours from Salt Lake City. It is a long drive, but something you should definitely see once. Plan on stopping at Golden Spike to help justify the long haul. 
  2.  Secondly, this is not a drive for your convertible. The last 15 miles of the drive is down a bumpy pothole filled dirt road. The Toyota Venza made the drive just fine, but it was definitely a bumpy dusty road and we had to drive slow. On that same note, you will most likely to visit a car wash immediately after your visit. The dirt road did a number to all the cars in the parking lot. 
parking area Spiral Jetty
parking area

drive to Spiral Jetty
drive into Spiral Jetty

3.      Before you drive all the way out, check the lake levels. Water levels must be below 4195 feet to see the jetty. You can check the water level HERE. The spiral jetty was submerged for 30 years shortly after it was finished. Due to the current drought levels, the spiral jetty was clearly visible in March of 2016. There was no water near the jetty.

views of Great Salt Lake from Spiral Jetty
Views of Great Salt Lake from Spiral Jetty

Look closely at the image above and you can see a few people walking out on the flats. Below, is the area where you can walk up to get some fun pictures of the spiral jetty.  The best shots would be an aerial view so if you have a droid become my best friend so I can use it, and then bring it here to get some awesome GoPro shots.

views of Great Salt Lake from Spiral Jetty
Spiral Jetty

4.    Very important is there are no services at the Spiral Jetty. No bathrooms, visitor center, water, nada. Just the art-work and a dirt parking lot. And I guess this little spiral stand is the most developed thing about the place.  The last bathroom will be 15 miles up the road, before the pavement ends at Golden Spike. Your last gas station will be in Corrine. Make sure you have plenty of gas as you will have no service at the jetty if you need help. 

To recap:
  • Pothole riddled dirt road for the last 15 miles
  • No bathrooms, water or visitors center- Bring snacks and water. The last bathroom is at Golden Spike. 
  • Last gas station is in Corrine, make sure you have a full tank 
  • No cell phone service at the jetty - bring everything you may need
  • Signage can be a little scarce, follow your GPS or the directions below
  • It is a long drive from SLC, so I recommend combining this trip with a visit to Golden Spike (on the way) and maybe even the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge.  I am nearly positive those were Pelicans flying overhead in the picture below (it was pretty awesome and this person also saw pelicans so I am not totally crazy). 
  • Make sure the lake level is below 4,195 feet before you go! 
Pelicans flying over Great Salt Lake

Spiral Jetty Signage

If you plug Rozel Point into your GPS, you should be all set. But if you like step my step directions see below from Their printable detailed directions can be found HERE.

1. From Salt Lake City take I-15 north approximately 65 miles to the Corinne exit (exit 365), just west of Brigham City, Utah. Exit and turn right onto Route 13 to Corinne. 
*LAST GAS STATION is in Corinne. (Spiral Jetty is about 40 miles beyond the last gas station in Corinne, Utah. Make sure your car has enough fuel to get you there and back). 
2. Past Corinne, the road becomes Highway 83. Continue west for 17.7 miles. Follow signs to Golden Spike National Historic Site (GSNHS) Visitor Center.
3. Turn left onto Golden Spike Road and continue 7.7 miles up the east side of Promontory Pass to Golden Spike National Historic Site Visitor Center. 
*LAST BATHROOMS are at the Visitor Center. *LAST CELL RECEPTION.
4. From the Visitor Center, drive 5.6 miles west on the main gravel road to a fork in the road. Continue left, heading west. *There are small white signs directing you the entire way to Spiral Jetty.
5. Cross a cattle guard. Call this cattle guard #1. Including this one, you cross four cattle guards before you reach Rozel Point and Spiral Jetty.
6. Drive 1.3 miles south to a second fork in the road. Turn right onto the southwest fork, and proceed 1.7 miles to cattle guard #2.
7. Continue southeast 1.2 miles to cattle guard #3.
8. Continue straight 2.8 miles south-southwest to cattle guard #4 and an iron-pipe gate.
9. Drive south for another 2.7 miles around the east side of Rozel Point. You will see the north arm of Great Salt Lake and an old oil jetty (not Spiral Jetty) left by drilling explorations that ended in the 1980s.
10. The road curves turning north and ends at a cul-de-sac parking lot directly next to Spiral Jetty.

1 comment :

  1. Great post--thanks for the thorough info on Spiral Jetty.


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