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In Our Back Yard: A Visit to the Spiral Jetty and other interesting sites

Jan 04, 2018 08:30AM
On the interesting list of things to do in January is a visit to a man-made piece of art known as the “Spiral Jetty” at Rozel Point on the north shore of the Great Salt Lake. Along the way we can make a stops at the ATK Rocket Display and Golden Spike National Historic Site. This outing makes an interesting and unusual all day drive. It is about a 3-hour drive north up I-15 to the Corinne Exit #365 (west of Brigham City). Turn right onto Route 13 which becomes Utah Highway 83 past Corinne. Buy gasoline in Corinne if you need it because there are no gas stations up the road.  In about 17.5 miles you will pass the ATK Rocket Display and a sign directing you to the Golden Spike National Historic Site Visitor Center. The visitor center is about 7.5 miles after the left turn. To continue to the Spiral Jetty, drive 5.6 miles west on the main gravel road, continue left, heading west, and you will see a small white sign directing you to the Spiral Jetty. It is approximately 9 miles and the crossing of four cattle guards as the road curves north around Rozel Point to the Spiral Jetty parking lot at the end of the road.

In the vacant desert expanse west of Corinne is ATK Thiokol that manufactures space and missile propulsion systems. The facility has a large display of rockets in front of its facility. They have a Space Shuttle booster, a Patriot missile and about 20 other rockets. It is free to wander through the rocket park. During weekday business hours the company has a visitor’s center with additional information about the company’s history and products.

On down the road is the Golden Spike National Historic Site commemorating the completion of the first transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. During the month of January, it is only open Thursday through Monday from 9 to 5. It is a National Park fee site and the winter rate is $5 per carload. Pre-paid passes and senior National Park passes are accepted.

From the parking lot of the Spiral Jetty, you can see the remarkable 15 foot wide, 1,500 foot long jetty with a counterclockwise coil stretching out from the shoreline. It is considered to be the central work of American sculptor Robert Smithson (1938-1973). The project was financed by a $9,000 grant from the Virginia Dwan Gallery of New York. This giant art piece was constructed in April 1970 using an estimated 6,650 tons of black basalt lava hardened rock and dirt from the area. The contractor on the project was Robert “Bob’ Phillips (1939-2016) of Ogden, Utah. In 1999 the Spiral Jetty was donated to the Dia Art Foundation. This earth art work was named Utah’s official state work of art in 2017.