Voyage to Spiral Jetty
This summer I took a solo road trip from LA to Chicago—a long and sometimes lonely trip. But I still thought it would be worth it to go out of my way to see Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty.
The northern half of the Great Salt Lake is actually red due to beta-carotene in the water. Difficult for a disposable camera to capture.
Directions: To get to Spiral Jetty (from Los Angeles) you drive northeast to Salt Lake City, Utah and then drive southwest an hour or two to an almost unpopulated northern section of the Great Salt Lake. You drive an hour on a dirt road to a monument/gift shop 12 miles away from Spiral Jetty called Golden Spike National Monument, where they drove the last (golden) stake into the transcontinental railroad tracks. I asked a guide in the gift shop of the Golden Spike National Monument how to find Spiral Jetty. She said “hmm, I think I have a map,” and pulled out a laminated piece of printer paper from the bottom drawer of her old desk that had one black line on “the road” with a few forks and a spiral at the end.
At first I was afraid to walk out onto the lake because the salt looks like ice cracking.
I asked a guide in the gift shop of the Golden Spike National Monument how to find Spiral Jetty. She said “hmm, I think I have a map” and pulled out a laminated piece of printer paper from the bottom drawer of her old desk that had one black line on the (the road) with a few forks and a spiral at the end.
People leave their own marks at Spiral Jetty. Unless the water rises, they will stay for a long time.
Afterwards, I went to a biker bar about thirty miles away for a beer and a burger, still on the Great Salt Lake, and the people inside playing pool asked where I had come from. I figured I would get blank stares or worse if I tried to explain that I had driven an extra 300 miles to see rocks arranged on a lake and run around and cry, so I just said “the lake” and they said “who the fuck goes there” and someone asked if I was a truck driver.
Once again, this water is reddish-pink. The lake is too salty for anything to live in it. The occasional gull-type bird hawks and swoops around. The salt aggravates sensitive skin, and the sun beats down hot and hard.