Spiral Jetty and Rozel Point are both located near the tiny town of Corinne, Utah, on the north shore of the Great Salt Lake. Both are unique places to visit. One of them is beautiful and interesting to visit. It’s also celebrating its 50th birthday in April 2020. The other site is also beautiful but watch your step. It’s basically a tar mess you’ll want to enjoy from a distance.
So which is which?
Spiral Jetty is earth artwork–made of mud, salt crystals, and basalt rocks–in 1970 by artist Robert Smithson. The New York Times claimed it to be one of the most amazing art pieces constructed on earth. Initially, it took six days to construct, but Smithson didn’t like the result. So, he recrafted it in three additional days to the current, long-lasting spiral shape it is now known for today.
Why did Smithson choose the Great Salt Lake north shore? He loved the then blood-red color of the water, which reminded him of the primordial sea, or origin of life. He also liked Rozel Point (practically next door), because it reminded him of a painting he’d seen: Et in Arcadia ego.
We at Utah Family Fun Stuff don’t see the resemblance to the painting, but we enjoyed our March 2020 visit, nonetheless. We want your family to enjoy an outing there as well.
Tips to Know before You Visit Spiral Jetty
- Go with a full tank of gas. It’s a long drive, and there’s no place to fill up after you leave Corinne.
- Roads are washboarded in places. Don’t visit on a wet, stormy day. Mostly, the roads are in good enough condition for a car, and we saw several out there. We drive an SUV and recommend a similar-type vehicle for safety and ease of navigation.
- Bring potable water and snacks.
- Bring binoculars. Waterfowl and wildlife might also be in the area. Plus, the landscape is beautiful to see.
- GPS will take you to Spiral Jetty. Follow signs to Spiral Jetty after leaving the Golden Spike Visitors’ Center at Promontory Point.
- Bathrooms are at the Golden Spike Visitors’ Center. This is your last chance unless you want to use the bushes or rocks at Spiral Jetty.
- No cell phone reception after Golden Spike Visitors’ Center.
- Rocky trail to access the jetty. You’ll see from our pictures that it’s rocky and steep in places. Probably not an ideal activity for super young children or seniors who aren’t steady on their feet. Not great for pets.
- No onsite facilities. No bathrooms. No garbage cans. No potable water. No anything. The only thing there is a small parking area and an information sign about Spiral Jetty.
- Bringing pets is questionable. The rocks leading down to Spiral Jetty are steep. Small dogs would especially have a hard time navigating the trail down.
- No wheelchair or stroller accessibility.
You’ll actually see Rozel Point before you see Spiral Jetty. There are no signs to tell you it’s Rozel Point. You’ll just notice a cool-looking jetty with some weathered lumber sticking out of the beach sand at various points.
You’ll see three access points to this jetty. The first is a gradual decline; the next two are a bit steep. You could get a car down the first one, but don’t use the other two unless you have a truck or SUV.
Not knowing the area and coming to Rozel Point first, we got out to explore the area. It’s really fabulous for pictures and only a very few people were out walking around. Perhaps they knew what we didn’t: Rozel Point is an old, abandoned crude oil field.
If you stay on the actual jetty while walking around at Rozel Point, you’re fine. But we wanted to explore the cool-looking “beach” a bit. Big mistake!!!! One minute we were fine; then the next second I took a step—right into crude oil that you could not see until you stepped in it. The ground is all covered with sand and other natural materials that look pristinely untouched and safe. But it’s actually a covering for the most sticky, smelly, awful petrol ever. And you absolutely cannot get it off your shoes or anything that touches it.
I stepped in it; my dog stepped in it too. Thankfully I stopped my boys before they were just about to step in it as well. After hiking the area, I removed my shoes, thinking I’d just clean them up a bit when I got home. Not so! I had to throw them away—an expensive pair of Nike Airs. And my dog? He had barely stepped in the sticky tar-oil, but he tracked it all over my 4Runner before I could put him in his kennel. Once we got home I had to bathe his paws daily for a week in blue Dawn dish detergent.
The tar smell was hard to get out of my car’s upholstery, and the stains are permanent. I tried so many products and home remedies to remove tar. Nothing worked. I had to get an area rug for a section of carpet in my home because the dog tracked stuff in. I just didn’t realize the mess we had created for ourselves after such a beautiful day at Rozel Point and Spiral Jetty.
Now you’ve all been warned. The experience actually makes for a good object lesson about hidden sins or lurking dangers, if you want to make a point while you’re out there. Just use a walking stick, and don’t touch the nasty stuff with anything else but the stick.
On our walk around Rozel Point, we saw remnants of the long-ago oil rig and some pelican carcasses. We also walked to the edge of the lake. The sea water was foaming along the bank, and it was like picking up handfuls of sea-salt bubbles, which was pretty cool.
Things to Know before You Visit Rozel Point
- Do not walk off the jetty. If you do decide to wander the beach areas, take a stick to poke the ground before you walk. Crude oil is just under the surface and you won’t see it until you step in it. Smelly and impossible to clean up, the tar-oil is not a souvenir you want to take home.
- Bring a good camera. The area is beautiful. My most favorite photo from the whole outing was taken at Rozel Point.
- Don’t bring pets or small children. Someone almost lost their dog at Rozel Point in 2015.
Enjoy Your Visit to Spiral Jetty and Rozel Point
Both Spiral Jetty and Rozel Point offer picturesque views of the north shore of the Great Salt Lake. We recommend walking around Spiral Jetty and taking most of your pictures there. Be sure to visit the shoreline to see and touch the sea-salt foam, if it’s there when you happen to visit.
Also, in the spring, the drive to both of these sites is filled with lots of landscape views. You’ll also enjoy seeing local ranch cattle who have calved. We felt this was like Baby Animal Days that you’d pay for elsewhere. Just be sure to stay in your vehicle and not approach or touch any of the animals.
During other seasons, you’ll likely still see the cattle, but the calves will either be grown up or gone.
Enjoy your your time at both of these sites. We think all Utahns should visit them at least once.