| The state of Utah located in the western United States. It was the 45th state admitted into the union, on January 4, 1896. Approximately 88 percent of Utah's 2,500,000 people, known as "Utahns," live in an urban concentration known as the Wasatch Front, centered by Salt Lake City. |
In contrast, vast expanses of the state are nearly uninhabited, making the population the sixth most urbanized state in the U.S. Approximately 62 percent of Utah's inhabitants claim membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, greatly influencing Utah's culture and daily life.
The name "Utah" is derived from the Ute Indian language, meaning "people of the mountains". It is know for its geological diversity of snowcapped mountains, well-watered river valleys and rugged, stony desert.
Among Utah's defining characteristics is the variety of its terrain. Running down the center of the state is the Wasatch Range, which rises to heights of about 12,000 feet (3,650 m) above sea level. Portions of these mountains receive more than 500 inches (12.7 m) of snow each year and are home to world-renowned ski resorts, made popular by the white, fluffy stuff.
Utah is one of the Four Corners states, bordered by Idaho and Wyoming in the north, Colorado in the east, New Mexico to the southeast (at the Four Corners Monument), Arizona in the south, and by Nevada in the west. It covers an area of 84,899 square miles (219,887 km²).
Western Utah is mostly arid desert with a basin and range geology. Small mountain ranges and rugged terrain punctuate the landscape. However, the Bonneville Salt Flats are an exception, being comparatively flat as a result of once forming the lake bed of Lake Bonneville.
Interstate 15 is the state's main highway, serving such cities as St. George, Orem, Provo, Salt Lake City, and Ogden. Breaking from Interstate 80 at Echo, Interstate 84 heads northwest through the mountains, onto the Wasatch Front before merging with I-15 at Roy until Tremonton. I-84 then continues northwestwardly into Idaho near Snowville.
I-80 enters from Nevada at Wendover and heads east through Salt Lake City, merging briefly with I-15 before climbing into the mountains and weaving through the canyons, across the plateaus and into Wyoming.
Interstate 70 begins at Cove Fort and heads east through mostly uninhabited areas, providing access to many of southern Utah's recreation areas before entering Colorado. The stretch of I-70 between Salina and Green River is the longest stretch of interstate in the nation without any services.
A light rail system in the Salt Lake Valley known as TRAX consists of two lines. One provides access from downtown Salt Lake City and Sand. The other provides access to the University of Utah, east of downtown.
The Utah Transit Authority (UTA) maintains a bus system with several routes, generally between Ogden and Provo. UTA also is responsible for the TRAX system, which is light rail running from the University of Utah to downtown Salt Lake to Sandy. For both bus and train, one-way fare is $1.50, and a transfer can be obtained upon request, which will allow you to board another bus or train within two hours.
Sundance Film Festival, Park City and Salt Lake City. The world renowned film festival is the launching pad for some of the year's best films, not to mention Hollywood careers.
Treehouse Children's Museum, 455 23rd Street, Ogden, (801) 394-9663. If Peter Pan built a museum, it would look like this. Exhibits are fun, educational and interactive.
Joseph Smith Memorial Building, 15 East Temple, Salt Lake City, (801) 536-7277. The historical building's two restaurants, The Garden and The Roof, overlook Temple Square. Members and non-members welcomed.
Lagoon Amusement Park, 375 Highway 91, Farmington, (801) 451-8000. You won't find a bigger amusement park between Kansas City and San Francisco than in Farmington. Camping and RV sites are also available.
Temple Square, 50 West North Temple, Salt Lake, (801) 240 3323 or 800-363-6027. Broadcasts of "Music and its Spoken Word" from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir are accented by the temple's rich acoustic sound. Admission is free, as are most of the performances.
National Parks and Monuments
A "Park Pass" from the United States National Park Service is a particularly good investment if you're visiting Utah and planning to see its national parks and monuments. The $50 fee allows unlimited access to all National Park Service units for a year and provides discounts on some services within the units. *(Note, however, that there are a very few national monuments that are not part of the National Park Service, and are therefore not covered by a Park Pass; Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is one prominent example in Utah.)
Arches National Park. Has the largest concentration of natural arches in the world, as well as other strange sandstone formations, such as pinnacles, cliffs, mesas, and gorges.
Bryce Canyon National Park. This heavily-forested mountainous area has a large natural amphitheater and other strange sandstone formations.
Canyonlands National Park. A large, spectacular wilderness of sandstone cliffs, narrow gorges, canyons, plateaus, bluffs, and other strange and beautiful formations east of Moab.
Capitol Reef National Park. The park is defined by the 100-mile long Waterpocket Fold and th 378 square miles of colorful canyons, ridges, buttes, and monoliths.
Cedar Breaks National Monument. A large natural amphitheater northeast of Cedar City. Considered a miniature Grand Canyon.
Dinosaur National Monument. Features a major excavation site for dinosaur bones as well as spectacular scenery and Native American rock art.
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. With more than 1.2 million acres, the area is a haven for backcountry enthusiasts.
Golden Spike National Historic Site. The first transcontinental railroad was completed with the driving of a symbolic golden spike at Promontory Summit in The Utah Territory.
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. See why this was the last place in the continental United States to be mapped.
Hovenweep National Monument. Six prehistoric, Puebloan-era villages stretch along the Utah and Colorado border, spanning more than 10,000 years of history. Camping and tours are available.
Zion National Park. A popular area full of sandstone cliffs, gorges, gullies, bluffs, plateaus, mesas, and other strange and colorful formations.
Utah's liquor laws are known as one of the more peculiar things about the state. Liquor is sold only in state-owned stores and generally costs more than in other states. Beer contains significantly less alcohol (3.2% alcohol, as opposed to the standard 4-5%) than the usual brew, which is available in stores and restaurants. "Full strength" beer is available in bars and liquor stores. Also, state law prohibits the serving of more than one ounce (shot) of alcohol as the primary liquor in a mixed drink. Secondary alcoholic flavorings may be added to a mixed drink as the recipe requires. While this can be circumvented with the purchase of a "sidecar" (a separate shot of liquor ).
Although liquor laws in Utah are more strict, they are not impossible. There are several kinds of establishments to know about:
Private club. These are sometimes accompanied by a "for members only" tag. Don't let this intimidate you because sometimes membership requirements consists of simply signing your name twice on a bill. Although local law requires a small fee for a membership, most establishments will automatically give you a discount equal to the price of the membership fee. Sometimes "for members only" is code for a full service bar serving hard drinks as well as beer. This is a less intrusive way of preventing "offending" any of the local religious sects. There is a small temporary "membership" fee required at these locations, but anyone can be a member and sometimes this is analogous to a cover charge. Most only run a few dollars, and most members can then bring "guests".
Tavern. A tavern is a bar that serves only beer and requires no "membership".
Restaurants. Many restaurants serve beer as well as hard liquor. No "membership" is required, but you must order food.
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Red Canyon spires, Utah
Most of eastern and southern Utah receive 12 inches (300 mm) or less of precipitation per year, while many mountain areas receive more than 40 inches (1 m) per year. Some areas receive up to 60 in (1.5 m). Much of western Utah receives less than 10 inches (25 cm), while the Wasatch Front receives approximately 15 inches (38 cm). The Great Salt Lake Desert is especially dry, receiving less than 5 inches (13 cm) annually. Snowfall is common in winter everywhere except the southern border and the Great Salt Lake Desert. St. George averages about 3 inches (7.5 cm) of snow per year, while Salt Lake City receives almost 60 inches (1.5 m) annually. Many mountain areas receive in excess of 350 inches (9 m) of snow in a year, while portions of the Wasatch Range receive up to 500 inches (12.7 m). Snowfall is common from late November through March in the lower elevations and from October through May in the mountains. The mountains often remain snow-covered into July.
During summer and fall, most of the precipitation is received from the storms coming from the south and consists of short, sporadic, and intense thunderstorms that can cause wildfires and flash floods. Spring is the wettest season across the north while late summer and early fall are the wettest times in the south. Winter is the wettest season in most of the mountain areas.
Utah is also home to some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the world. Most of Utah's best ski areas are located in Big Cottonwood Canyon and Little Cottonwood Canyon, which are both conveniently located less than an hour's drive away from Salt Lake City.
Mount Suskan in Mirror Lake
Jell-O is the official snack food of Utah, giving rise to the term the Jello Belt.
The USS Utah was named in honor of this state.
Utah has 14 Alpine ski resorts.
The United States acquired Utah in 1848 as part of a treaty ending the Mexico War
The Great Salt Lake covers more than one million acres.