The Spiral Jetty – The Great Salt Lakes Earthwork Sculpture

What is the Sprial Jetty you might be asking yourself right now?  The Spiral Jetty is an earthwork sculpture that was created by the American Sculptor Robert Smithson in 1970 on the banks of the Great Salt Lake.  The Sprial Jetty is made of mud, salt crystals, basalt rocks and water and from a 1,500 foot long and 15 foot wide counterclockwise coil beginning at the short and extending in to the lake.

Getting There

To get to the Sprial Jetty take exit 365 from I-15 toward Corinne.  You will pass Corinne and head toward Promontory Point and the Golden Spike National Monument.  Follow the signs until you get to the National Monument.  From the National Monument you will follow a well grated gravel road about another 10 miles to the Spiral Jetty.  The road ends at a parking lot.  There are signs that point the way on the gravel road at the different forks in the road, but always take a left toward the Great Salt Lake and you’ll be fine.  You can also find the Jetty on Google Maps and GPS your way there.

The Spiral Jetty

The Spiral Jetty is pretty remote and it is unlikely that you will run into more than a handful of people on your trip out to the Jetty.  The Jetty is visible from the makeshift parking lot at the end of the road.  While you can get a decent view from your car, it is definitely work walking down to take a closer work.

Like most art, you can’t truly appreciate it, until you take the time to examine it closely.In years with high run-off from mountain snow the lake can rise and partially submerge or even cover the Sprial Jetty, however in drought years the lake has retreated and left the Spiral Jetty completely exposed.

The last time the Spiral Jetty was partially submerged was after the heavy runoff of the snows in 2011.  During my trip out there I was able to walk right up to the Spiral Jetty and inspect it up close.  The lake was actually much farther out, and a couple of the parties who came to see the Spiral than walked probably another 1/3 of a mile out to the Lake itself.

The original design and intention of the artwork was to half the Spiral partially exposed in the pinkish red waters of the Great Salt Lake. The water is pinkish-red in this part of the Great Salt Lake due to the high Salinity and concentration of brine in the water.  From the air you can see the two different colors of the Great Salt Lake.  This occurred after the building of the causeway across the lake in the late 1950s by the railroad, dividing the lake and causing the salinity of this part of the lake to rise.

The black basalt rocks placed in a raised bed of sand and mud create a beautiful contrast with the salty barren lake bed of the Great Salt Lake.  Many walk along the spiral and trace it to its center.  It is a place where you could spend an hour or two admiring the spiral and walking out to the lake and maybe bringing a picnic to eat in the parking lot, however it is likely not to be a full day activity by itself.

Golden Spike National Monument

If you are going to make the trip out to the Spiral Jetty you might as well stop into the Golden Spike monument as well.  You’ll drive right past it on your way out and back to the Spiral Jetty, and it is a great opportunity to get a little history.  It marks the spot where the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads met and drove the last spike into what would be the United State’s first Transcontinental railroad.

The center itself is likely just a short stop as well, with a few exhibits, a film and then visiting the spot where the Golden Spike ceremony was held on May 10th 1869.  We also did the auto tour going East on our way back to the freeway which allows you do drive where the original track was laid.  We also got to check out Chinese arch, which is small natural arch set against the background of the Salt Lake Valley.  It was definitely worth the short drive.

I hope this blog post was helpful and as with all posts if you have any questions, comments or feedback feel free to leave them below or you can email me directly at  As always don’t forget to get outside and have some fun!


About Dustin

Healthcare professional by day, Outdoor adventurer on the evenings and weekends.
This entry was posted in Beautiful Places, Great Place for a Date, Greater Salt Lake Area. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Spiral Jetty – The Great Salt Lakes Earthwork Sculpture

  1. Hevron Maimon says:

    Dustin, Hello

    Is the road to Spiral Jetty suitable for a passenger car ?
    Thank you

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