students at the Great Salt Lake

About the Spiral Jetty

Spiral Jetty is an earthwork (aka land art) created by Robert Smithson in 1970. It's 1,500 feet of coiled black basalt, which provides a stunning contrast to the pink microbe-rich waters. The Spiral Jetty not only leaves an imprint in your soul,it is also one of the only access points for GSLI students and faculty to collect samples of halophilic microorganisms in Great Salt Lake's hypersaline Gunnison Bay (or north arm). GSLI is fortunate enough to have such an amazing study site that is also a world-renowned piece of art in the extreme hypersaline waters of Gunnison Bay in the Great Salt Lake. The research of GSLI and Dr. Baxter do not impact the Spiral Jetty. Our research furthers our understanding of the extreme halophiles, which gives the waters around the jetty its intense hues. 
Visit the Spiral Jetty

Great Salt Lake Jetty

Image Credit: Robert Smithson, the Spiral Jetty, 1970. Long-term installation in Rozel Point, Box Elder County, Utah. Collection Dia Art Foundation, New York. Photo: Martin Hogue. 

Check out Hikmet Sidney Loe's website for current happenings and the lake level status at the Spiral Jetty.

The estate of Robert Smithson owns the copyright of Spiral Jetty and controls the images created of Spiral Jetty. Dia Art Foundation owns Spiral Jetty and holds the land lease Spiral Jetty is located on.
Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands manages the bed of Great Salt Lake for all Utah citizens. Because Spiral Jetty sits below the meander line of the Great Salt Lake (and on the lake bed in high years) the land Spiral Jetty is on must be leased and managed by the State of Utah. A meander line is the line used to represent the perimeter of a body of water.



Great Salt Lake Institute (GSLI) was named one of two local partners supporting Dia Art Foundation in the stewardship of Spiral Jetty. Together with the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, we committed to protect and value Spiral Jetty as a unique world-renowned piece of artwork and as a place where we can conduct valuable research on the Great Salt Lake.

”For fifteen years, students and faculty from Westminster College have been traveling to The Spiral Jetty to research the science of Great Salt Lake. What we never anticipated is how the artwork would draw us in. This is the power of land art-Spiral Jetty makes a statement about the nature of the environment in which it exists. GSLI can harness this and bring this sensibility to all our educational, research, and public programming,” said Dr. Bonnie Baxter, Director of Great Salt Lake Institute.

Are you planning a trip to Spiral Jetty? Access directions from the Dia Art Foundation.

Our Role

Great Salt Lake Institute (GSLI) is an active and frequent visitor to Spiral Jetty. We go there for scientific exploration. As a local member of the Great Salt Lake Community we are in a position to act as stewards for Spiral Jetty by being there and monitoring the area for the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands (FFSL) and Dia. We can notify Dia of land changes, road issues, or local happenings at the jetty.

Specific conditions GSLI will monitor on behalf of Dia include

  • Condition and accessibility of the gravel road leading to Spiral Jetty
  • Presence of signage that directs tourists/interested parties to Spiral Jetty
  • Presence of any unauthorized activity within the lease area or adjoining property including campfires, trash, vandalism, or similar activities.

If you have noticed any changes to the road, damage to signage, or any unauthorized activity, please contact us.

GSLI will also continue to collaborate with Dia on field trips, work to develop jointly orchestrated educational opportunities at the artwork, and keep Dia informed of scientific and educational projects or curricula at Westminster College that develop around the artwork.