| 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.
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.
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.
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.)
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".
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.
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.
Jell-O is the official snack food of Utah, giving rise to the term the Jello Belt.
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