The Spiral Jetty, Salt Lake

Spiral Jetty Salt Lake


Added by: Pat


I have the great luxury of being able to travel to many different US destinations for work. This trip to Salt Lake is one of my favorites. A week of work in one of the most beautiful sections of this country perfectly timed with the Aspens fall color.

The Flight Out

Typically these flights are long and drawn out. You’re sitting next to someone who has chosen not to shower, or that restless child whose boredom cycle has kicked in. However, on this particular trip, my aisle mate was a delightful young lady transplanted to Salt Lake City.

We talked most about our passion for getting outside and exploring. A love we both shared with our families. During our conversation, she spoke about a piece of art that is essentially a formation of rocks in the middle of nowhere, and that I should go and see it. Therefore it made a list.

This piece of artwork is called the Spiral Jetty.

Spiral Jetty Salt Lake

Spiral Jetty is a counterclockwise 1500-foot long 15-foot vast pile of basalt. As a result, protrudes into the lake during high-tide.

The Quest for Art

After researching it, I found that she was right. You will find the Jetty in the middle of nowhere, and you have to be very dedicated to your quest to see it. The Spiral Jetty created by Robert Smithson, a New Jersey Native who found his passion by building earthworks.  In 1970 he used basalt, native to the northeastern shore of the Great Salt Lake, to create the Spiral Jetty. Two years after the completion of this earthwork the lake levels rose. Consequently, the Jetty was swallowed by the lake and disappeared until 2002.

Spiral Jetty Salt Lake

Me making the pilgrimage to the center of the Spiral Jetty.

Today the Jetty stood proud of its heritage above the salty water, and a handful of explorers joined me in gazing at its pure beauty. There are no souvenir shops and no pins. All that you may possess are a couple of pictures and the memory.


Tips: The Spiral Jetty is roughly 2.5 hours from Salt Lake City. After you reach the pavement end follow the unimproved roads until you reach a parking lot.  What seems like an eternity of dust and gravel roads, and having a sparsity of signs pointing the way. You will finally crest over the hill, getting a first glimpse of the Jetty.

The hike is short but fierce as it passes through the rocky perimeter of the Jetty. Sometimes covered by the pink waters of the lake, the Jetty cannot always be navigated.


Also, the Spiral Jetty is only visible when the water level is below 4195 feet elevation. To view current levels at the Great Salt Lake, please follow this link.


Smithson died in Texas observing his new canvas in 1973 in a plane crash. The legacy of R. Smithson unknown to many but etched on the earth and well worth the backroad drive. Please see the Dia Art Foundation Website for more information about the location and the artist.




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