'Zelda: Breath of the Wild' Rist Peninsula: The real inspiration for the spiral landmass

Nintendo/Wikimedia Commons

Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has an overwhelmingly huge map full of fantastical vistas that seem like they'd pale in comparison to what the real world has to offer, right? As it turns out, you can actually visit a place eerily similar to one of Breath of the Wild's strangest locales — Rist Peninsula — in real life.

Rist Peninsula (left) compared to Robert Smithson's 'Spiral Jetty' (right)Source: Mic
Rist Peninsula (left) compared to Robert Smithson's 'Spiral Jetty' (right)  Mic

The real-world equivalent of Rist Peninsula — a strange, swirly bit of land that exists without any kind of rational explanation — is Spiral Jetty, a similarly bizarre peninsula on the coast of the Great Salt Lake in Utah.

There's no shrine in the middle of 'Spiral Jetty,' but it's still pretty awesome.Source: Wikimedia Commons
There's no shrine in the middle of 'Spiral Jetty,' but it's still pretty awesome.  Wikimedia Commons

So, what the heck is that giant spiral rock structure doing in the middle of nowhere?

It's actually a piece of art constructed in 1970 by Robert Smithson, an artist most well-known for his "earthworks," a term used to describe sculptures that use rock and the earth itself as its medium. This one, called Spiral Jetty, is 1,500 feet long and 15 feet wide — meaning you can actually walk on it, just like Link does in Breath of the Wild. That is, if you happen to visit at a time when Spiral Jetty is visible. Because it's just a piece of land in the real world, sometimes Spiral Jetty is easily accessible, but other times it's completely swallowed up by the lake.

If you visit 'Spiral Jetty,' don't forget to strike a pose.Source: Nintendo
If you visit 'Spiral Jetty,' don't forget to strike a pose.  Nintendo

The cool thing about the visual similarities between the two swirly structures — whether intentional on Nintendo's part or not — is that Breath of the Wild and Spiral Jetty have a lot of thematic crossovers too. One of the main themes in Smithson's work is entropy, the idea that things naturally degrade over time as they interact with the world around them. His earthworks exist within the natural processes of nature, meaning that Spiral Jetty might look completely different now than it will in 10 years.

Similarly, the landscape of Breath of the Wild is intrinsically linked to the in-game events of the past. Between the bombed-out castles and remnants of busted Guardians that pepper the map, Breath of the Wild presents a world that's dripping in history and reminds you of the passage of time at every turn.

If you plan on making a trip to see Spiral Jetty yourself, make sure you bring a portable charger for the car ride out from Salt Lake City. It'll take about two and a half hours to drive there, so your Switch probably won't survive the trip without a little extra juice — but that's a small price to pay for an adventure like that.

More Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild tips, tricks and guides

Find out all there is to know about Zelda: Breath of the Wild, including what to expect from the Wii U version, how to preserve your items, how to beat bosses like the Stone Talus and Lynel, the best recipes for Link and how to take on the game's shrines. You'll also want to find out where all the great fairies in the game and how to use amiibo with your version of Zelda.