Pink Lake Utah, a pink-colored lake located just outside of Salt Lake City, has hit social media by storm in the past year.
Between the white crusty salt floor and the naturally rose-tinted waves, this dreamy, otherworldly body of salt water is straight from a fairytale.
Whether you would like to transport yourself into Candyland or simply cast an Instagram-worthy Pink Lake Utah photoshoot, Pink Lake Utah ought to be on your North American travel bucket list.
(Please respect the natural beauty of Pink Lake and leave no trace. Pick up after yourself. Leave the lake just as you found it. Once you see it, you’ll want future generations to be able to experience it too. To review the seven Leave No Trace principles, click here.)
Now, to answer the question you’re inevitably wondering…
Is The Great Salt Lake Actually Pink?
Yes! The Great Salt Lake is actually pink. Half of the Great Salt Lake is vibrant hot pink. The other half of Great Salt Lake is a normal teal blue color. The colors are divided by the Great Salt Lake Causeway railroad.
Although you may be doubting the lake’s pinkness because of modern photo editing software like Photoshop and Lightroom, I can assure you that the Great Salt Lake is indeed pink.
I had these doubts, too. In fact, I wasn’t even sure that we would see a pink lake when we were on our way there. I said that I would believe it when I saw it. (News flash: I saw it.)
What Makes The Great Salt Lake Pink?
The Great Salt Lake gets its pink color from the bacteria and algae that live in the water, both of which are pink, according to Dave Shearer, the Great Salt Lake State Park manager.
Not many organisms can survive in an environment with such high salt levels, but the Great Salt Lake’s pink bacteria and algae can.
Pink Lake Utah Directions, Address & Map
There are three places to see Utah’s legendary Pink Lake: Spiral Jetty, the Great Salt Lake Causeway railroad and Stansbury Island.
Directions To Spiral Jetty
Spiral Jetty is an art installation built into the pink water. Apart from the unique swirly artwork, the location of Spiral Jetty offers unforgettable views of the pink lake and surrounding mountains.
Moreover, Spiral Jetty jets out of the salty beachside, which means that this location is ideal for swimming if you’d like a chance to float in Pink Lake.
You can find Spiral Jetty by typing “Spiral Jetty” into your GPS. Or, follow the directions below to Spiral Jetty at Pink Lake.
Directions to Pink Lake Utah at Spiral Jetty:
- Take I-15 N to UT-13 for approx. 60 miles.
- Follow signs for UT-13/Corinne.
- Merge onto UT-13 N/Promontory Rd.
- Continue onto UT-83 N/W Hwy 13.
- Turn left onto Golden Spike Dr.
- Stay on Golden Spike Dr. (and eventually Golden Spike Rd.) until you hit Spiral Jetty Rd.
- Turn right onto N Rozel Flats Rd.
- Continue onto Spiral Jetty Rd.
- Turn right to stay on Spiral Jetty Rd.
- Drive Spiral Jetty Rd. until you come to a parking lot near the water.
- Once you finally arrive to the parking lot, walk the path down to the salt lake bed.
(Directions 1-10 courtesy of Google Maps.)
You’ll already be able to see both Pink Lake and the Spiral Jetty art installation from the parking lot, but, depending on the tide, you might have to walk a few minutes to get to the actual water.
Directions To Pink Lake Utah’s Railroad Causeway
Another iconic photo location of Pink Lake Utah that you see online is the Great Salt Lake Causeway railroad.
About the same distance from Salt Lake City as Spiral Jetty, this address offers a perfect view of the divide between the pink half of Great Salt Lake and the rest of the Great Salt Lake.
If you’re a drone pilot, you won’t want to miss this epic aerial shot of Pink Lake Utah.
However, if you’re looking forward more to swimming and floating in the lake, I recommend going to Spiral Jetty for more of a beach setting.
Here’s exactly how to get to the Great Salt Lake Causeway railroad from Salt Lake City, Utah.
This location, although very worthwhile, isn’t as simple as typing a location name into your GPS.
I suggest using the very first map (with the two destination points) to get you to the southernmost location (the causeway) in conjunction with the following directions to SE Promontory Rd.:
Directions to Pink Lake at Great Salt Lake Causeway:
- Get on I-15 N.
- Drive on I-15 N for about 60 miles to UT-13 N/Promontory Rd.
- Take exit 365 from I-15 N to UT-13 N/Promontory Rd.
- Keep right at the fork. Follow signs for UT-13/Corinne and merge onto UT-13 N/Promontory Rd.
- Follow UT-83 N to NE Promontory Rd for 54 miles.
- Merge onto UT-13 N/Promontory Rd.
- Continue to follow UT-13 N for about 3 miles.
- Continue onto UT-83 N/W Hwy 13 for about 17 miles.
- Turn left onto 7200 N Rd/W Golden Spike Dr.
- Continue straight onto 7200 N Rd.
- Continue onto NE Promontory Rd. for about 30 miles to Promontory Point.
- Once you reach Promontory Point, take SE Promontory Rd. eastward toward coordinates 41.22, -112.49.
(Directions 1-10 courtesy of Google Maps.)
How Much Does It Cost To See Utah’s Pink Lake?
Because Pink Lake Utah is located inside Great Salt lake State Park there is an entrance fee of $5.00. If you are driving to Spiral Jetty from Salt Lake City, it is likely that you won’t have to pay the entrance fee because you will miss the state park entrance.
Either way, the fee is minimal compared to the ethereal view you get to experience.
Furthermore, if you own a registered drone, you can pay $1.00 for a drone permit to fly over and take aerial footage of Pink Lake. You can view and print the drone permit form here.
In addition to the park entrance fees and permits, you also may need to rent a car to get to Pink Lake Utah. As mentioned prior, the drive to Pink Lake from Salt Lake City (where you’ll most likely be staying) is about two hours, and there is no public transportation available to Pink Lake.
So, unless you are road tripping in your own car from home, you’ll need a rental car. Be sure to purchase auto rental insurance as well, as the roads to Pink Lake are rough and rocky.
Likewise, be sure to fill your gas tank before adventuring. There are no gas stations near Pink Lake.
Important Things To Know Before Going to Pink Lake
Do I need a high clearance vehicle to get to Pink Lake?
No, you do not need a high clearance vehicle to get to Spiral Jetty nor the Great Salt Lake Causeway.
There are tens of miles of unpaved gravel roads, but if I can make it in my tiny 2011 Chevy Cruze without any problems, so can you!
Can you swim in the Pink Lake Utah?
Despite the pink bacteria and algae, it is safe to swim in the Great Salt Lake and Pink Lake. However, remember to cover any cuts or open wounds you have. Otherwise, the salt will sting.
Can I float on Pink Lake and the Great Salt Lake?
Yes, because of the high salt content in the lake water, you do float in Pink Lake.
Is the Pink Lake drinkable?
It is not advisable to drink the water at Pink Lake due to its algae and bacteria growth. The algae, bacteria as well as the high salt content are potentially harmful to humans.
Bring Comfortable Waterproof Shoes
The beach of Pink Lake Utah is not a normal sand beach. The floor of the lake is made completely of hardened salt that is sharp and will cut your feet if you are not careful. You’ll definitely want shoes to protect your feet.
There is also a decent walk to the water from the parking lot (five-ish minutes) if the tide is low, so comfortable walking shoes are a plus.
Furthermore, if you plan on wading in the water or swimming at all, it would be advisable to bring waterproof shoes. You can find my favorite cute waterproof shoes here.
What To Bring To Pink Lake
Pink Lake Utah is in the middle of nowhere, so it is essential that you come prepared.
Here is a packing list of items you won’t want to forget in addition to waterproof shoes.
- Packed lunches. There are no restaurants nearby, and you’ll be gone for at least 5-6 hours.
- Lots of drinking water in insulated bottles. HydroFlask has some of the best insulated water bottles that keep your cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot.
- Full tank of gas. The last gas station is in Corinne.
- Waterproof bandages, just in case your feet get cut by the salt (and to barricade current cuts from the salt).
- Sunscreen. The dessert sun is harsh here, and there is absolutely no shade.
- Sunglasses. If you need new, affordable prescription sunglasses, check out Zenni Optical.
- Swimsuit and towel — if you plan on taking a float in the salty water.
- Shoes (waterproof shoes if you plan on swimming).
- Travel pack of baby wipes to wipe the salt off your arms, legs, feet, etc before getting back into the car.
- Lightweight jacket. Pink Lake can get very windy and, therefore, chilly — especially in fall, winter and spring.
- Camera. You can find all of the best budget camera gear for travel photography that I personally use here.
- Drone. Don’t forget your drone permit!
The Best Time To Visit Utah’s Pink Lake
Believe it or not, the lake is pink year round.
However, be sure to check the weather before departing for Pink Lake. You definitely will not want to be caught in the extremities (be it rain or snow) on those unpaved backcountry roads.
We visited in March, and the weather was perfect: sunny with a light breeze.
Where To Stay In Utah Near Pink Lake
When you visit Pink Lake Utah, you’ll most likely be coming from Salt Lake City. Salt Lake City is the closest major city.
When staying in Salt Lake City, you have a few accommodations options:
- Hotel. Hotwire has fantastic hotel options for a fraction of the standard hotel cost.
- Camping/RVing. Although, note that free campsites are few-and-far-between around Salt Lake City. We ended up boon-docking in the Walmart parking lot. It may be worth it to pay for a reserved campsite in Salt Lake City, unlike the rest of Utah.
- Airbnb. I especially recommend Airbnbs if you’re traveling with a large family or hope to cook your own meals to save money.
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