Great Salt Lake North Shore, Utah

The expanse of the Great Salt Lake in Utah boasts many recreation sites. Our favorite is the North Side, near the Spiral Jetty, of the Great Salt Lake. The North Side of the Salt Lake not only has the awe-inspiring earth-art of the Spiral Jetty, it also has the best spots to float! It is less crowded than other areas, less stinky, very calm and quiet, and a whole lot of fun. 

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We went to the North Side of the Great Salt Lake for three reasons: First, because we HAD to test out our new ISLE Explorer inflatable paddleboard on this iconic body of water. Second, we heard about the gorgeous pink hues of the water that can be seen on the north side in the fall. Third, because we had been on that side before and know there are A LOT less bugs, gross smell, and people. We brought out some camping chairs and picnic lunches and made a “lake day” of it! 

How to Get There:

On Google Maps, if you look up “Spiral Jetty” and follow the directions, it will take you right to the parking lot. 

The Spiral Jetty is only 20 minutes from the Golden Spike National Historic Site. You will be following signs for the Golden Spike for much of the way to the Spiral Jetty. The last six or so miles are on a gravel road. This road is maintained most of the year but you might want to check conditions in winter and early spring.  

If you have Verizon, you will have cell data most of the way. At the actual parking lot and Spiral Jetty, cell coverage drops down to just barely enough to make a phone call.  

Things to do:

1. Float! 

Since we visited the lake in the autumn, I had to convince myself to get in the water. Barely breaking 70 degrees, the air was maintaining a slight chill. The nice thing is, because of the shallowness of the water, the lake temperature tends to mirror the air temperature, so it was not too cold. Also, YOLO, so I knew I had to get in. 

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I had heard about floating in the Great Salt Lake but I had no idea the level of amazing this would be! Leaning back, I expected myself to sink into the water a little until I could get on my back and find buoyancy – you know, like a normal pool. I did not sink at all! It was like the water was just waiting to catch me and then hold me in a salty hug. I could totally let myself relax and I still just stayed on top of the water. It is a must-do! 

2. Paddle board! 

Paddle boarding on the Great Salt Lake is a blast because the buoyancy is so intense! On a calm day, it takes almost no effort to stay upright on the board and propel it through the water. Our ISLE Explorer is especially great because it already floats effortlessly through just about anything. With the added potency of the salt, I felt like I was flying across the water! 

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3. See the Spiral Jetty!

Look at that picture. Enough said! To learn more about it visit this website. 

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4. Camp!

There is free, dispersed camping all over this area. You can camp near the parking lot, mixed in with the boulders and shrubbery. Or you can camp down on the shore in the open elements. I have not camped here myself but I always see tents set up when I go. 

5. Bring your dog!

This is another thing I have never done since I do not have a dog. However, there are lots of dogs running around whenever we go. We thought that maybe the sharpness of the salt would hurt the little paw pads (it certainly hurts bare feet!!) but this does not seem to be the case. All of the dogs seemed to be getting along on the rough salt just fine. 

6. Stop at Promontory Point to see the location of the Golden Spike. 

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Tips:

1. If you plan on floating you will get very salty! The water is so salty that no amount of washing in the lake will get the salt off. As soon as it dries it is itchy and coarse all over your skin. This can cause your car load to have salty attitudes all the way home! To fix this, bring a gallon of water for everyone in your party. We have a big five-gallon container that we filled with hot water before we left the house. It was still warm when we pulled it out of the car after swimming. It felt sooooo good to wash all of that salt off before heading home!

2. Go in Autumn, when the water is pink. The water level is much lower this time of year. The combined water level, salinity, and algae all work together to make crazy pink hues. You MUST walk out into the water at least a few feet to see the pink. From the shore it looks totally normal. The deeper you go, the pinker it gets. 

3. Bring sandals or other shoes that can be worn in the water. Walking on the tough salt bottom of the lake feels sort of like walking on a whole lot of rock candy. Ouch! Shoes are a must. 

4. Wear sunscreen! The sun reflects off of the water and the white expanse of salt. That means there are three ways to burn while hanging out on the shore. 

5. There is NOT A BATHROOM of any kind. Plan to find a nice, hidden shrub or lava rock to hide your bum. The nearest bathroom is at the Golden Spike National Historic Site, about 25 minutes from the Spiral Jetty. 

So many people miss this opportunity because the Spiral Jetty on the north side of the lake is “such a long drive” from Salt Lake City. Don’t be one of these people! Make the drive – you will not regret it! 

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