Canyonlands National Park is an American national park located in southeastern Utah near the town of Moab. The park preserves a colorful landscape eroded into numerous canyons, mesas, and buttes by the Colorado River, the Green River, and their respective tributaries. Legislation creating the park was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on September 12, 1964.
The park is divided into four districts: the Island in the Sky, the Needles, the Maze, and the combined rivers—the Green and Colorado—which carved two large canyons into the Colorado Plateau. While these areas share a primitive desert atmosphere, each retains its own character. Author Edward Abbey, a frequent visitor, described the Canyonlands as "the most weird, wonderful, magical place on earth—there is nothing else like it anywhere
In the early 1950s, Bates Wilson, then superintendent of Arches National Monument, began exploring the area to the south and west of Moab, Utah. After seeing what is now known as the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park, Wilson began advocating for the establishment of a new national park that would include the Needles. Additional explorations by Wilson and others expanded the areas proposed for inclusion into the new national park to include the confluence of Green and Colorado rivers, the Maze District, and Horseshoe Canyon.
In 1961, Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall was scheduled to address a conference at Grand Canyon National Park. On his flight to the conference, he flew over the Confluence (where the Colorado and Green rivers meet). The view apparently sparked Udall’s interest in Wilson’s proposal for a new national park in that area and Udall began promoting the establishment of Canyonlands National Park.
Utah Senator Frank Moss first introduced legislation into Congress to create Canyonlands National Park. His legislation attempted to satisfy both nature preservationists’ and commercial developers’ interests. Over the next four years, his proposal was struck down, debated, revised, and reintroduced to Congress many times before being passed and signed into creation.
In September, 1964, after several years of debate, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Pub.L. 88–590, which established Canyonlands National Park as a new national park. Bates Wilson became the first superintendent of the new park and is often referred to as the "Father of Canyonlands."
Canyonlands is a popular recreational destination. Since 2007, more than 400,000 people have visited the park each year with a record of 776,218 visitors in 2016, representing a 22 percent increase from the prior year. The geography of the park is well suited to a number of different recreational uses. Hikers, mountain bikers, backpackers, and four-wheelers all enjoy traveling the rugged, remote trails within the Park. The White Rim Road traverses the White Rim Sandstone level of the park between the rivers and the Island in the Sky. Since 2015, day-use permits must be obtained before travelling on the White Rim Road due to the increasing popularity of driving and bicycling along it. The park service’s intent is to provide a better wilderness experience for all visitors while minimizing impacts on the natural surroundings.
As of 2016, the Island in the Sky district, with its proximity to the Moab, Utah area, attracts 76.7 percent of total park visitors. The Needles district is the second most visited, drawing 20.7 percent of visitors. The remote Maze district accounts for only about 1.5 percent of visitors, while river rafters and other river users account for the remaining 1.1 percent of total park visitation.
Rafters and kayakers float the calm stretches of the Green River and Colorado River above the Confluence. Below the Confluence, Cataract Canyon contains powerful whitewater rapids, similar to those found in the Grand Canyon. However, since there is no large impoundment on the Colorado River above Canyonlands National Park, river flow through the Confluence is determined by snowmelt, not management. As a result, and in combination with Cataract Canyon’s unique graben geology, this stretch of river offers the largest whitewater in North America in heavy snow years.
Political compromise at the time of the park’s creation limited the protected area to an arbitrary portion of the Canyonlands basin. Conservationists hope to complete the park by bringing the boundaries up to the high sandstone rims that form the natural border of the Canyonlands landscape.
On March 27, 2020, Canyonlands National Park was closed to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The Colorado River and Green River combine within the park, dividing it into three districts called the Island in the Sky, the Needles, and the Maze. The Colorado River flows through Cataract Canyon below its confluence with the Green River.
The Island in the Sky district is a broad and level mesa in the northern section of the park, between the Colorado and Green rivers. The district has many viewpoints overlooking the White Rim, a sandstone bench 1,200 feet (366 m) below the Island, and the rivers, which are another 1,000 feet (305 m) below the White Rim.
The Needles district is located south of the Island in the Sky, on the east side of the Colorado River. The district is named for the red and white banded rock pinnacles which are a major feature of the area. Various other naturally sculpted rock formations are also within this district, including grabens, potholes, and arches. Unlike Arches National Park, where many arches are accessible by short to moderate hikes, most of the arches in the Needles district lie in backcountry canyons, requiring long hikes or four-wheel drive trips to reach them.
The Ancestral Puebloans inhabited this area and some of their stone and mud dwellings are well-preserved, although the items and tools they used were mostly removed by looters. The Ancestral Puebloans also created rock art in the form of petroglyphs, most notably on Newspaper Rock along the Needles access road.
The Maze district is located west of the Colorado and Green rivers. The Maze is the least accessible section of the park, and one of the most remote and inaccessible areas of the United States.
A geographically detached section of the park located north of the Maze district, Horseshoe Canyon contains panels of rock art made by hunter-gatherers from the Late Archaic Period (2000-1000 BC) pre-dating the Ancestral Puebloans. Originally called Barrier Canyon, Horseshoe’s artifacts, dwellings, pictographs, and murals are some of the oldest in America. The images depicting horses date from after 1540 AD, when the Spanish reintroduced horses to America.
Since the 1950s, scientists have been studying an area of 200 acres (81 ha) completely surrounded by cliffs. The cliffs have prevented cattle from ever grazing on the area’s 62 acres (25 ha) of grassland. According to the scientists, the site may contain the largest undisturbed grassland in the Four Corners region. Studies have continued biannually since the mid-1990s. The area has been closed to the public since 1993 to maintain the nearly pristine environment.
Mammals that roam this park include black bears, coyotes, skunks, bats, elk, foxes, bobcats, badgers, ring-tailed cats, pronghorns, desert bighorn sheep, and cougars. Desert cottontails, kangaroo rats and mule deer are commonly seen by visitors.
At least 273 species of birds inhabit the park. A variety of hawks and eagles are found, including the Cooper’s hawk, the northern goshawk, the sharp-shinned hawk, the red-tailed hawk, the golden and bald eagles, the rough-legged hawk, the Swainson’s hawk, and the northern harrier. Several species of owls are found, including the great horned owl, the northern saw-whet owl, the western screech owl, and the Mexican spotted owl. Grebes, woodpeckers, ravens, herons, flycatchers, crows, bluebirds, wrens, warblers, blackbirds, orioles, goldfinches, swallows, sparrows, ducks, quail, grouse, pheasants, hummingbirds, falcons, gulls, and ospreys are some of the other birds that can be found.
Several reptiles can be found, including eleven species of lizards and eight species of snake (including the midget faded rattlesnake). The common kingsnake and prairie rattlesnake have been reported in the park, but not confirmed by the National Park Service.
The park is home to six confirmed amphibian species, including the red-spotted toad, Woodhouse’s toad, American bullfrog, northern leopard frog, Great Basin spadefoot toad, and tiger salamander. The canyon tree frog was reported to be in the park in 2000, but was not confirmed during a study in 2004.
Canyonlands National Park contains a wide variety of plant life, including 11 cactus species, 20 moss species, liverworts, grasses and wildflowers. Varieties of trees include netleaf hackberry, Russian olive, Utah juniper, pinyon pine, tamarisk and Fremont’s cottonwood. Shrubs include Mormon tea, blackbrush, four-wing saltbush and cliffrose.
Cryptobiotic soil is the foundation of life in Canyonlands, providing nitrogen fixation and moisture for plant seeds. One footprint can destroy decades of growth.
According to the Köppen climate classification system, Canyonlands National Park has a Cold semi-arid climate (‘’BSk’’). Bsk climates are defined by their coldest month having an average mean temperature below −0 °C (32 °F) and at least 50% of the total annual precipitation being received during the spring and summer. The plant hardiness zones at the Island in the Sky and Needles District Visitor Centers are 7a with an average annual extreme minimum air temperature of 4.0 °F (-15.6 °C) and 2.9 °F (-16.2 °C), respectively.
The National Weather Service has maintained two cooperative weather stations in the park since June 1965. Official data documents the desert climate with less than 10 inches (250 millimetres) of annual rainfall, as well as very warm, mostly dry summers and cold, occasionally wet winters. Snowfall is generally light during the winter.
The station in The Neck region reports average January temperatures ranging from a high of 37.0 °F (2.8 °C) to a low of 20.7 °F (−6.3 °C). Average July temperatures range from a high of 90.7 °F (32.6 °C) to a low of 65.8 °F (18.8 °C). There are an average of 43.3 days with highs of 90 °F (32 °C) or higher and an average of 124.3 days with lows of 32 °F (0 °C) or lower. The highest recorded temperature was 105 °F (41 °C) on July 15, 2005, and the lowest recorded temperature was −13 °F (−25 °C) on February 6, 1989. Average annual precipitation is 9.07 inches (230 mm). There are an average of 59 days with measurable precipitation. The wettest year was 1984, with 13.66 in (347 mm), and the driest year was 1989, with 4.63 in (118 mm). The most precipitation in one month was 5.19 in (132 mm) in October 2006. The most precipitation in 24 hours was 1.76 in (45 mm) on April 9, 1978. Average annual snowfall is 22.9 in (58 cm). The most snowfall in one year was 47.4 in (120 cm) in 1975, and the most snowfall in one month was 27.0 in (69 cm) in January 1978.
The station in The Needles region reports average January temperatures ranging from a high of 41.2 °F (5.1 °C) to a low of 16.6 °F (−8.6 °C). Average July temperatures range from a high of 95.4 °F (35.2 °C) to a low of 62.4 °F (16.9 °C). There are an average of 75.4 days with highs of 90 °F (32 °C) or higher and an average of 143.6 days with lows of 32 °F (0 °C) or lower. The highest recorded temperature was 107 °F (42 °C) on July 13, 1971, and the lowest recorded temperature was −16 °F (−27 °C) on January 16, 1971. Average annual precipitation is 8.49 in (216 mm). There are an average of 56 days with measurable precipitation. The wettest year was 1969, with 11.19 in (284 mm), and the driest year was 1989, with 4.25 in (108 mm). The most precipitation in one month was 4.43 in (113 mm) in October 1972. The most precipitation in 24 hours was 1.56 in (40 mm) on September 17, 1999. Average annual snowfall is 14.4 in (37 cm). The most snowfall in one year was 39.3 in (100 cm) in 1975, and the most snowfall in one month was 24.0 in (61 cm) in March 1985.
A subsiding basin and nearby uplifting mountain range (the Uncompahgre) existed in the area in Pennsylvanian time. Seawater trapped in the subsiding basin created thick evaporite deposits by Mid Pennsylvanian. This, along with eroded material from the nearby mountain range, became the Paradox Formation, itself a part of the Hermosa Group. Paradox salt beds started to flow later in the Pennsylvanian and probably continued to move until the end of the Jurassic. Some scientists believe Upheaval Dome was created from Paradox salt bed movement, creating a salt dome, but more modern studies show that the meteorite theory is more likely to be correct.
A warm shallow sea again flooded the region near the end of the Pennsylvanian. Fossil-rich limestones, sandstones, and shales of the gray-colored Honaker Trail Formation resulted. A period of erosion then ensued, creating a break in the geologic record called an unconformity. Early in the Permian an advancing sea laid down the Halgaito Shale. Coastal lowlands later returned to the area, forming the Elephant Canyon Formation.
Large alluvial fans filled the basin where it met the Uncompahgre Mountains, creating the Cutler red beds of iron-rich arkose sandstone. Underwater sand bars and sand dunes on the coast inter-fingered with the red beds and later became the white-colored cliff-forming Cedar Mesa Sandstone. Brightly colored oxidized muds were then deposited, forming the Organ Rock Shale. Coastal sand dunes and marine sand bars once again became dominant, creating the White Rim Sandstone.
A second unconformity was created after the Permian sea retreated. Flood plains on an expansive lowland covered the eroded surface and mud built up in tidal flats, creating the Moenkopi Formation. Erosion returned, forming a third unconformity. The Chinle Formation was then laid down on top of this eroded surface.
Increasingly dry climates dominated the Triassic. Therefore, sand in the form of sand dunes invaded and became the Wingate Sandstone. For a time climatic conditions became wetter and streams cut channels through the sand dunes, forming the Kayenta Formation. Arid conditions returned to the region with a vengeance; a large desert spread over much of western North America and later became the Navajo Sandstone. A fourth unconformity was created by a period of erosion.
Mud flats returned, forming the Carmel Formation, and the Entrada Sandstone was laid down next. A long period of erosion stripped away most of the San Rafael Group in the area, along with any formations that may have been laid down in the Cretaceous period.
The Laramide orogeny started to uplift the Rocky Mountains 70 million years ago and with it, the Canyonlands region. Erosion intensified and when the Colorado River Canyon reached the salt beds of the Paradox Formation the overlying strata extended toward the river canyon, forming features such as The Grabens. Increased precipitation during the ice ages of the Pleistocene quickened the rate of canyon excavation along with other erosion. Similar types of erosion are ongoing, but occur at a slower rate.
Utah (/ˈjuːtɑː/ YOO-tah, /ˈjuːtɔː/ (About this soundlisten) YOO-taw) is a state in the Mountain West subregion of the Western United States. Utah is a landlocked U.S. state bordered to its east by Colorado, to its northeast by Wyoming, to its north by Idaho, to its south by Arizona, and to its west by Nevada. Utah also touches a corner of New Mexico in the southeast. Of the fifty U.S. states, Utah is the 13th-largest by area; with a population over three million, it is the 30th-most-populous and 11th-least-densely populated. Urban development is mostly concentrated in two areas: the Wasatch Front in the north-central part of the state, which is home to roughly two-thirds of the population and includes the capital city, Salt Lake City; and Washington County in the southwest, with more than 170,000 residents. Most of the western half of Utah lies in the Great Basin.
Utah has been inhabited for thousands of years by various indigenous groups such as the ancient Puebloans, Navajo and Ute. The Spanish were the first Europeans to arrive in the mid-16th century, though the region’s difficult geography and harsh climate made it a peripheral part of New Spain and later Mexico. Even while it was Mexican territory, many of Utah’s earliest settlers were American, particularly Mormons fleeing marginalization and persecution from the United States. Following the Mexican–American War in 1848, the region was annexed by the U.S., becoming part of the Utah Territory, which included what is now Colorado and Nevada. Disputes between the dominant Mormon community and the federal government delayed Utah’s admission as a state; only after the outlawing of polygamy was it admitted in 1896 as the 45th.
Slightly over half of all Utahns are Mormons, the vast majority of whom are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), which has its world headquarters in Salt Lake City; Utah is the only state where a majority of the population belongs to a single church. The LDS Church greatly influences Utahn culture, politics, and daily life, though since the 1990s the state has become more religiously diverse as well as secular.
Utah has a highly diversified economy, with major sectors including transportation, education, information technology and research, government services, mining, and tourism. Utah has been one of the fastest growing states since 2000, with the 2020 U.S. Census confirming the fastest population growth in the nation since 2010. St. George was the fastest-growing metropolitan area in the United States from 2000 to 2005. Utah ranks among the overall best states in metrics such as healthcare, governance, education, and infrastructure. It has the 14th-highest median average income and the least income inequality of any U.S. state. A 2012 Gallup national survey found Utah overall to be the "best state to live in the future" based on 13 forward-looking measurements including various economic, lifestyle, and health-related outlook metrics.
The name Utah is said to derive from the name of the Ute tribe, meaning ‘people of the mountains’. However, no such word actually exists in the Utes’ language, and the Utes refer to themselves as Noochee. The meaning of Utes as ‘the mountain people’ has been attributed to the neighboring Pueblo Indians, as well as to the Apache word Yuttahih, which means ‘one that is higher up’ or ‘those that are higher up’. In Spanish it was pronounced Yuta; subsequently English-speaking people may have adapted the word as Utah.
Main article: History of Utah
Map showing Utah in 1838 when it was part of Mexico, Britannica 7th edition
Thousands of years before the arrival of European explorers, the Ancestral Puebloans and the Fremont people lived in what is now known as Utah, some of which spoke languages of the Uto-Aztecan group. Ancestral Pueblo peoples built their homes through excavations in mountains, and the Fremont people built houses of straw before disappearing from the region around the 15th century.
Another group of Native Americans, the Navajo, settled in the region around the 18th century. In the mid-18th century, other Uto-Aztecan tribes, including the Goshute, the Paiute, the Shoshone, and the Ute people, also settled in the region. These five groups were present when the first European explorers arrived.
Spanish exploration (1540)
Main articles: New Spain, The Californias § History, First Mexican Empire, Provisional Government of Mexico, First Mexican Republic, and Centralist Republic of Mexico
The southern Utah region was explored by the Spanish in 1540, led by Francisco Vázquez de Coronado, while looking for the legendary Cíbola. A group led by two Catholic priests—sometimes called the Domínguez–Escalante expedition—left Santa Fe in 1776, hoping to find a route to the coast of California. The expedition traveled as far north as Utah Lake and encountered the native residents. The Spanish made further explorations in the region but were not interested in colonizing the area because of its desert nature. In 1821, the year Mexico achieved its independence from Spain, the region became known as part of its territory of Alta California.
European trappers and fur traders explored some areas of Utah in the early 19th century from Canada and the United States. The city of Provo, Utah, was named for one Étienne Provost, who visited the area in 1825. The city of Ogden, Utah, was named after Peter Skene Ogden, a Canadian explorer who traded furs in the Weber Valley.
In late 1824, Jim Bridger became the first known English-speaking person to sight the Great Salt Lake. Due to the high salinity of its waters, he thought he had found the Pacific Ocean; he subsequently learned this body of water was a giant salt lake. After the discovery of the lake, hundreds of American and Canadian traders and trappers established trading posts in the region. In the 1830s, thousands of migrants traveling from the Eastern United States to the American West began to make stops in the region of the Great Salt Lake, then known as Lake Youta.
Latter Day Saint settlement (1847)
Main articles: Mexican–American War, Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, and Mexican Cession
Brigham Young led the first Mormon pioneers to the Great Salt Lake.
Following the death of Joseph Smith in 1844, Brigham Young, as president of the Quorum of the Twelve, became the leader of the LDS Church in Nauvoo, Illinois. To address the growing conflicts between his people and their neighbors, Young agreed with Illinois Governor Thomas Ford in October 1845 that the Mormons would leave by the following year.
Young and the first band of Mormon pioneers reached the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847. Over the next 22 years, more than 70,000 pioneers crossed the plains and settled in Utah. For the first few years, Brigham Young and the thousands of early settlers of Salt Lake City struggled to survive. The arid desert land was deemed by the Mormons as desirable as a place where they could practice their religion without harassment.
Settlers buried thirty-six Native Americans in one grave after an outbreak of measles occurred during the winter of 1847.
The first group of settlers brought African slaves with them, making Utah the only place in the western United States to have African slavery. Three slaves, Green Flake, Hark Lay, and Oscar Crosby, came west with the first group of settlers in 1847. The settlers also began to purchase Indian slaves in the well-established Indian slave trade, as well as enslaving Indian prisoners of war.
Utah was Mexican territory when the first pioneers arrived in 1847. Early in the Mexican–American War in late 1846, the United States had taken control of New Mexico and California. The entire Southwest became U.S. territory upon the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, February 2, 1848. The treaty was ratified by the United States Senate on March 11. Learning that California and New Mexico were applying for statehood, the settlers of the Utah area (originally having planned to petition for territorial status) applied for statehood with an ambitious plan for a State of Deseret.
The Mormon settlements provided pioneers for other settlements in the West. Salt Lake City became the hub of a "far-flung commonwealth" of Mormon settlements. With new church converts coming from the East and around the world, Church leaders often assigned groups of church members as missionaries to establish other settlements throughout the West. They developed irrigation to support fairly large pioneer populations along Utah’s Wasatch front (Salt Lake City, Bountiful and Weber Valley, and Provo and Utah Valley). Throughout the remainder of the 19th century, Mormon pioneers established hundreds of other settlements in Utah, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, Wyoming, California, Canada, and Mexico—including in Las Vegas, Nevada; Franklin, Idaho (the first European settlement in Idaho); San Bernardino, California; Mesa, Arizona; Star Valley, Wyoming; and Carson Valley, Nevada.
Prominent settlements in Utah included St. George, Logan, and Manti (where settlers completed the LDS Church’s first three temples in Utah, each started after but finished many years before the larger and better known temple built in Salt Lake City was completed in 1893), as well as Parowan, Cedar City, Bluff, Moab, Vernal, Fillmore (which served as the territorial capital between 1850 and 1856), Nephi, Levan, Spanish Fork, Springville, Provo Bench (now Orem), Pleasant Grove, American Fork, Lehi, Sandy, Murray, Jordan, Centerville, Farmington, Huntsville, Kaysville, Grantsville, Tooele, Roy, Brigham City, and many other smaller towns and settlements. Young had an expansionist’s view of the territory that he and the Mormon pioneers were settling, calling it Deseret—which according to the Book of Mormon was an ancient word for "honeybee". This is symbolized by the beehive on the Utah flag, and the state’s motto, "Industry".
Utah Territory (1850–1896)
Main articles: Organic act § List of organic acts, Utah Territory, Admission to the Union, and List of U.S. states by date of admission to the Union
A sketch of Salt Lake City in 1860
Deseret Village recreates Utah pioneer life for tourists.
The Golden Spike where the First Transcontinental Railroad was completed in the U.S. on May 10, 1869, in Promontory, Utah
The Utah Territory was much smaller than the proposed state of Deseret, but it still contained all of the present states of Nevada and Utah as well as pieces of modern Wyoming and Colorado. It was created with the Compromise of 1850, and Fillmore, named after President Millard Fillmore, was designated the capital. The territory was given the name Utah after the Ute tribe of Native Americans. Salt Lake City replaced Fillmore as the territorial capital in 1856.
By 1850, there were around 100 black people in the territory, the majority of whom were slaves. In Salt Lake County, 26 slaves were counted. In 1852, the territorial legislature passed the Act in Relation to Service and the Act for the relief of Indian Slaves and Prisoners formally legalizing slavery in the territory. Slavery was abolished in the territory during the Civil War.
In 1850, Salt Lake City sent out a force known as the Nauvoo Legion and engaged the Timpanogos in the Battle at Fort Utah.: 71
Disputes between the Mormon inhabitants and the U.S. government intensified due to the practice of plural marriage, or polygamy, among members of the LDS Church. The Mormons were still pushing for the establishment of a State of Deseret with the new borders of the Utah Territory. Most, if not all, of the members of the U.S. government opposed the polygamous practices of the Mormons.
Members of the LDS Church were viewed as un-American and rebellious when news of their polygamous practices spread. In 1857, particularly heinous accusations of abdication of government and general immorality were leveled by former associate justice William W. Drummond, among others. The detailed reports of life in Utah caused the administration of James Buchanan to send a secret military "expedition" to Utah. When the supposed rebellion should be quelled, Alfred Cumming would take the place of Brigham Young as territorial governor. The resulting conflict is known as the Utah War, nicknamed "Buchanan’s Blunder" by the Mormon leaders.
In September 1857, about 120 American settlers of the Baker–Fancher wagon train, en route to California from Arkansas, were murdered by Utah Territorial Militia and some Paiute Native Americans in the Mountain Meadows massacre.
Before troops led by Albert Sidney Johnston entered the territory, Brigham Young ordered all residents of Salt Lake City to evacuate southward to Utah Valley and sent out the Nauvoo Legion to delay the government’s advance. Although wagons and supplies were burned, eventually the troops arrived in 1858, and Young surrendered official control to Cumming, although most subsequent commentators claim that Young retained true power in the territory. A steady stream of governors appointed by the president quit the position, often citing the traditions of their supposed territorial government. By agreement with Young, Johnston established Camp Floyd, 40 miles (60 km) away from Salt Lake City, to the southwest.
Salt Lake City was the last link of the First Transcontinental Telegraph, completed in October 1861. Brigham Young was among the first to send a message, along with Abraham Lincoln and other officials.
Because of the American Civil War, federal troops were pulled out of Utah Territory in 1861. This was a boon to the local economy as the army sold everything in camp for pennies on the dollar before marching back east to join the war. The territory was then left in LDS hands until Patrick E. Connor arrived with a regiment of California volunteers in 1862. Connor established Fort Douglas just 3 miles (4.8 km) east of Salt Lake City and encouraged his people to discover mineral deposits to bring more non-Mormons into the territory. Minerals were discovered in Tooele County and miners began to flock to the territory.
Beginning in 1865, Utah’s Black Hawk War developed into the deadliest conflict in the territory’s history. Chief Antonga Black Hawk died in 1870, but fights continued to break out until additional federal troops were sent in to suppress the Ghost Dance of 1872. The war is unique among Indian Wars because it was a three-way conflict, with mounted Timpanogos Utes led by Antonga Black Hawk fighting federal and LDS authorities.
On May 10, 1869, the First Transcontinental Railroad was completed at Promontory Summit, north of the Great Salt Lake. The railroad brought increasing numbers of people into the territory and several influential businesspeople made fortunes there.
During the 1870s and 1880s laws were passed to punish polygamists due, in part, to stories from Utah. Notably, Ann Eliza Young—tenth wife to divorce Brigham Young, women’s advocate, national lecturer and author of Wife No. 19 or My Life of Bondage and Mr. and Mrs. Fanny Stenhouse, authors of The Rocky Mountain Saints (T. B. H. Stenhouse, 1873) and Tell It All: My Life in Mormonism (Fanny Stenhouse, 1875). Both Ann Eliza and Fanny testify to the happiness of the very early Church members before polygamy. They independently published their books in 1875. These books and the lectures of Ann Eliza Young have been credited with the United States Congress passage of anti-polygamy laws by newspapers throughout the United States as recorded in "The Ann Eliza Young Vindicator", a pamphlet which detailed Ms Young’s travels and warm reception throughout her lecture tour.
T. B. H. Stenhouse, former Utah Mormon polygamist, Mormon missionary for thirteen years and a Salt Lake City newspaper owner, finally left Utah and wrote The Rocky Mountain Saints. His book gives a witnessed account of life in Utah, both the good and the bad. He finally left Utah and Mormonism after financial ruin occurred when Brigham Young sent Stenhouse to relocate to Ogden, Utah, according to Stenhouse, to take over his thriving pro-Mormon Salt Lake Telegraph newspaper. In addition to these testimonies, The Confessions of John D. Lee, written by John D. Lee—alleged "Scape goat" for the Mountain Meadow Massacre—also came out in 1877. The corroborative testimonies coming out of Utah from Mormons and former Mormons influenced Congress and the people of the United States.
In the 1890 Manifesto, the LDS Church banned polygamy. When Utah applied for statehood again, it was accepted. One of the conditions for granting Utah statehood was that a ban on polygamy be written into the state constitution. This was a condition required of other western states that were admitted into the Union later. Statehood was officially granted on January 4, 1896.
20th century to present
Children reading in Santa Clara, Utah, in 1940
Beginning in the early 20th century, with the establishment of such national parks as Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park, Utah became known for its natural beauty. Southern Utah became a popular filming spot for arid, rugged scenes featured in the popular mid-century western film genre. From such films, most US residents recognize such natural landmarks as Delicate Arch and "the Mittens" of Monument Valley. During the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, with the construction of the Interstate highway system, accessibility to the southern scenic areas was made easier.
Since the establishment of Alta Ski Area in 1939 and the subsequent development of several ski resorts in the state’s mountains, Utah’s skiing has become world-renowned. The dry, powdery snow of the Wasatch Range is considered some of the best skiing in the world (the state license plate once claimed "the Greatest Snow on Earth"). Salt Lake City won the bid for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, and this served as a great boost to the economy. The ski resorts have increased in popularity, and many of the Olympic venues built along the Wasatch Front continue to be used for sporting events. Preparation for the Olympics spurred the development of the light-rail system in the Salt Lake Valley, known as TRAX, and the re-construction of the freeway system around the city.
In 1957, Utah created the Utah State Parks Commission with four parks. Today, Utah State Parks manages 43 parks and several undeveloped areas totaling over 95,000 acres (380 km2) of land and more than 1,000,000 acres (4,000 km2) of water. Utah’s state parks are scattered throughout Utah, from Bear Lake State Park at the Utah/Idaho border to Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum deep in the Four Corners region and everywhere in between. Utah State Parks is also home to the state’s off highway vehicle office, state boating office and the trails program.
During the late 20th century, the state grew quickly. In the 1970s growth was phenomenal in the suburbs of the Wasatch Front. Sandy was one of the fastest-growing cities in the country at that time. Today, many areas of Utah continue to see boom-time growth. Northern Davis, southern and western Salt Lake, Summit, eastern Tooele, Utah, Wasatch, and Washington counties are all growing very quickly. Management of transportation and urbanization are major issues in politics, as development consumes agricultural land and wilderness areas and transportation is a major reason for poor air quality in Utah.
Geography and geology
See also: List of canyons and gorges in Utah, List of Utah counties, and List of earthquakes in Utah
Utah county boundaries
Utah is known for its natural diversity and is home to features ranging from arid deserts with sand dunes to thriving pine forests in mountain valleys. It is a rugged and geographically diverse state at the convergence of three distinct geological regions: the Rocky Mountains, the Great Basin, and the Colorado Plateau.
Utah covers an area of 84,899 sq mi (219,890 km2). It is one of the Four Corners states and is bordered by Idaho in the north, Wyoming in the north and east, by Colorado in the east, at a single point by New Mexico to the southeast, by Arizona in the south, and by Nevada in the west. Only three U.S. states (Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming) have exclusively latitude and longitude lines as boundaries.
One of Utah’s defining characteristics is the variety of its terrain. Running down the middle of the state’s northern third is the Wasatch Range, which rises to heights of almost 12,000 ft (3,700 m) above sea level. Utah is home to world-renowned ski resorts made popular by light, fluffy snow and winter storms that regularly dump up to three feet of it overnight. In the state’s northeastern section, running east to west, are the Uinta Mountains, which rise to heights of over 13,000 feet (4,000 m). The highest point in the state, Kings Peak, at 13,528 feet (4,123 m), lies within the Uinta Mountains.
At the western base of the Wasatch Range is the Wasatch Front, a series of valleys and basins that are home to the most populous parts of the state. It stretches approximately from Brigham City at the north end to Nephi at the south end. Approximately 75 percent of the state’s population lives in this corridor, and population growth is rapid.
Western Utah is mostly arid desert with a basin and range topography. Small mountain ranges and rugged terrain punctuate the landscape. The Bonneville Salt Flats are an exception, being comparatively flat as a result of once forming the bed of ancient Lake Bonneville. Great Salt Lake, Utah Lake, Sevier Lake, and Rush Lake are all remnants of this ancient freshwater lake, which once covered most of the eastern Great Basin. West of the Great Salt Lake, stretching to the Nevada border, lies the arid Great Salt Lake Desert. One exception to this aridity is Snake Valley, which is (relatively) lush due to large springs and wetlands fed from groundwater derived from snow melt in the Snake Range, Deep Creek Range, and other tall mountains to the west of Snake Valley. Great Basin National Park is just over the Nevada state line in the southern Snake Range. One of western Utah’s most impressive, but least visited attractions is Notch Peak, the tallest limestone cliff in North America, located west of Delta.
Much of the scenic southern and southeastern landscape (specifically the Colorado Plateau region) is sandstone, specifically Kayenta sandstone and Navajo sandstone. The Colorado River and its tributaries wind their way through the sandstone, creating some of the world’s most striking and wild terrain (the area around the confluence of the Colorado and Green Rivers was the last to be mapped in the lower 48 United States). Wind and rain have also sculpted the soft sandstone over millions of years. Canyons, gullies, arches, pinnacles, buttes, bluffs, and mesas are the common sights throughout south-central and southeast Utah.
This terrain is the central feature of protected state and federal parks such as Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Zion national parks, Cedar Breaks, Grand Staircase-Escalante, Hovenweep, and Natural Bridges national monuments, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (site of the popular tourist destination, Lake Powell), Dead Horse Point and Goblin Valley state parks, and Monument Valley. The Navajo Nation also extends into southeastern Utah. Southeastern Utah is also punctuated by the remote, but lofty La Sal, Abajo, and Henry mountain ranges.
Eastern (northern quarter) Utah is a high-elevation area covered mostly by plateaus and basins, particularly the Tavaputs Plateau and San Rafael Swell, which remain mostly inaccessible, and the Uinta Basin, where the majority of eastern Utah’s population lives. Economies are dominated by mining, oil shale, oil, and natural gas-drilling, ranching, and recreation. Much of eastern Utah is part of the Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation. The most popular destination within northeastern Utah is Dinosaur National Monument near Vernal.
Southwestern Utah is the lowest and hottest spot in Utah. It is known as Utah’s Dixie because early settlers were able to grow some cotton there. Beaverdam Wash in far southwestern Utah is the lowest point in the state, at 2,000 feet (610 m). The northernmost portion of the Mojave Desert is also located in this area. Dixie is quickly becoming a popular recreational and retirement destination, and the population is growing rapidly. Although the Wasatch Mountains end at Mount Nebo near Nephi, a complex series of mountain ranges extends south from the southern end of the range down the spine of Utah. Just north of Dixie and east of Cedar City is the state’s highest ski resort, Brian Head.
Like most of the western and southwestern states, the federal government owns much of the land in Utah. Over 70 percent of the land is either BLM land, Utah State Trustland, or U.S. National Forest, U.S. National Park, U.S. National Monument, National Recreation Area or U.S. Wilderness Area. Utah is the only state where every county contains some national forest.
Arches National Park
Little Cottonwood Canyon
Deer Creek Reservoir
American Fork Canyon
Kolob Canyons at Zion National Park
Wyoming (east and north)
Köppen climate types of Utah
Utah features a dry, semi-arid to desert climate, although its many mountains feature a large variety of climates, with the highest points in the Uinta Mountains being above the timberline. The dry weather is a result of the state’s location in the rain shadow of the Sierra Nevada in California. The eastern half of the state lies in the rain shadow of the Wasatch Mountains. The primary source of precipitation for the state is the Pacific Ocean, with the state usually lying in the path of large Pacific storms from October to May. In summer, the state, especially southern and eastern Utah, lies in the path of monsoon moisture from the Gulf of California.
Most of the lowland areas receive less than 12 inches (305 mm) of precipitation annually, although the I-15 corridor, including the densely populated Wasatch Front, receives approximately 15 inches (381 mm). The Great Salt Lake Desert is the driest area of the state, with less than 5 inches (127 mm). Snowfall is common in all but the far southern valleys. Although St. George receives only about 3 inches (76 mm) per year, Salt Lake City sees about 60 inches (1,524 mm), enhanced by the lake-effect snow from the Great Salt Lake, which increases snowfall totals to the south, southeast, and east of the lake.
Some areas of the Wasatch Range in the path of the lake-effect receive up to 500 inches (12,700 mm) per year. This micro climate of enhanced snowfall from the Great Salt Lake spans the entire proximity of the lake. The cottonwood canyons adjacent to Salt Lake City are located in the right position to receive more precipitation from the lake. The consistently deep powder snow led Utah’s ski industry to adopt the slogan "the Greatest Snow on Earth" in the 1980s. In the winter, temperature inversions are a common phenomenon across Utah’s low basins and valleys, leading to thick haze and fog that can last for weeks at a time, especially in the Uintah Basin. Although at other times of year its air quality is good, winter inversions give Salt Lake City some of the worst wintertime pollution in the country.
Previous studies have indicated a widespread decline in snowpack over Utah accompanied by a decline in the snow–precipitation ratio while anecdotal evidence claims have been put forward that measured changes in Utah’s snowpack are spurious and do not reflect actual change. A 2012 study found that the proportion of winter (January–March) precipitation falling as snow has decreased by nine percent during the last half century, a combined result from a significant increase in rainfall and a minor decrease in snowfall. Meanwhile, observed snow depth across Utah has decreased and is accompanied by consistent decreases in snow cover and surface albedo. Weather systems with the potential to produce precipitation in Utah have decreased in number with those producing snowfall decreasing at a considerably greater rate.
Snow in Rose Park, Salt Lake City
Utah’s temperatures are extreme, with cold temperatures in winter due to its elevation, and very hot summers statewide (with the exception of mountain areas and high mountain valleys). Utah is usually protected from major blasts of cold air by mountains lying north and east of the state, although major Arctic blasts can occasionally reach the state. Average January high temperatures range from around 30 °F (−1 °C) in some northern valleys to almost 55 °F (13 °C) in St. George.
Temperatures dropping below 0 °F (−18 °C) should be expected on occasion in most areas of the state most years, although some areas see it often (for example, the town of Randolph averages about fifty days per year with temperatures that low). In July, average highs range from about 85 to 100 °F (29 to 38 °C). However, the low humidity and high elevation typically leads to large temperature variations, leading to cool nights most summer days. The record high temperature in Utah was 118 °F (48 °C), recorded south of St. George on July 4, 2007, and the record low was −69 °F (−56 °C), recorded at Peter Sinks in the Bear River Mountains of northern Utah on February 1, 1985. However, the record low for an inhabited location is −49 °F (−45 °C) at Woodruff on December 12, 1932.
Utah, like most of the western United States, has few days of thunderstorms. On average there are fewer than 40 days of thunderstorm activity during the year, although these storms can be briefly intense when they do occur. They are most likely to occur during monsoon season from about mid-July through mid-September, especially in southern and eastern Utah. Dry lightning strikes and the general dry weather often spark wildfires in summer, while intense thunderstorms can lead to flash flooding, especially in the rugged terrain of southern Utah. Although spring is the wettest season in northern Utah, late summer is the wettest period for much of the south and east of the state. Tornadoes are uncommon in Utah, with an average of two striking the state yearly, rarely higher than EF1 intensity.
One exception of note, however, was the unprecedented Salt Lake City Tornado that moved directly across downtown Salt Lake City on August 11, 1999. The F2 tornado killed one person, injured sixty others, and caused approximately $170 million in damage; it was the second strongest tornado in the state behind an F3 on August 11, 1993, in the Uinta Mountains. The only other reported tornado fatality in Utah’s history was a 7-year-old girl who was killed while camping in Summit County on July 6, 1884. The last tornado of above (E)F0 intensity occurred on September 8, 2002, when an F2 tornado hit Manti.
The Rocky Mountain elk is the Utah state mammal.
The California gull is the Utah state bird.
See also: List of fauna of Utah
Utah is home to more than 600 vertebrate animals as well as numerous invertebrates and insects.
Main article: List of mammals of Utah
Mammals are found in every area of Utah. Non-predatory larger mammals include the plains bison, elk, moose, mountain goat, mule deer, pronghorn, and multiple types of bighorn sheep. Non-predatory small mammals include muskrat, and nutria. Large and small predatory mammals include the black bear, cougar, Canada lynx, bobcat, fox (gray, red, and kit), coyote, badger, black-footed ferret, mink, stoat, long-tailed weasel, raccoon, and otter.
The brown bear was formerly found within Utah, but has been extirpated. There are no confirmed mating pairs of gray wolf in Utah, though there have been sitings in northeastern Utah along the Wyoming border.
Main article: List of birds of Utah
As of January 2020, there were 466 species included in the official list managed by the Utah Bird Records Committee (UBRC). Of them, 119 are classed as accidental, 29 are classed as occasional, 57 are classed as rare, and 10 have been introduced to Utah or North America. Eleven of the accidental species are also classed as provisional.
Due to the miracle of the gulls incident in 1848, the most well known bird in Utah is the California gull, which is the Utah state bird. A monument in Salt Lake City commemorates this event, known as the "Miracle of the Gulls". Other gulls common to Utah include Bonaparte’s gull, the ring-billed gull, and Franklin’s gull.
Other birds commonly found include the American robin, the common starling, finches (black rosy, Cassin’s, and goldfinch), the black-billed magpie, mourning doves, sparrows (house, tree, black-chinned, black-throated, Brewer’s, and chipping), Clark’s grebe, the ferruginous hawk, geese (snow, cackling, and Canada), eagles (golden and bald), California quail, mountain bluebird, and hummingbirds (calliope, black-chinned, and broad-tailed).
Western black widow spider
Main articles: List of arachnids of Utah, List of butterflies and moths of Utah, and List of mollusks of Utah
Utah is host to a wide variety of arachnids, insects, mollusks, and other invertebrates. Arachnids include the Arizona bark scorpion, Western black widow spiders, crab spiders, hobo spiders (Tegenaria agrestis), cellar spiders, American grass spiders, woodlouse spiders, Several spiders found in Utah are often mistaken for the brown recluse spider, including the desert recluse spider (found only in Washington County), the cellar spider, and crevice weaving spiders. The brown recluse spider has not been officially confirmed in Utah as of summer 2020.
One of the most rare insects in Utah is the Coral Pink Sand Dunes tiger beetle, found only in Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, near Kanab. It was proposed in 2012 to be listed as a threatened species, but the proposal was not accepted. Other insects include grasshoppers, green stink bugs, the Army cutworm, the monarch butterfly, and Mormon fritillary butterfly. The white-lined sphinx moth is common to most of the United States, but there have been reported outbreaks of large groups of their larvae damaging tomato, grape and garden crops in Utah. Four or five species of firefly are also found across the state.
In February 2009, Africanized honeybees were found in southern Utah. The bees had spread into eight counties in Utah, as far north as Grand and Emery counties by May 2017.
Main article: List of flora of Utah
Pando, considered one of the heaviest and oldest organisms on Earth.
Joshua trees, yuccas, and cholla cactus occupy the far southwest corner of the state in the Mojave Desert
Several thousand plants are native to Utah, including a variety of trees, shrubs, cacti, herbaceous plants, and grasses. As of 2018, there are 3,930 species of plants in Utah, with 3,128 of those being indigenous and 792 being introduced through various means.
Common trees include pines/piñons (white fir, Colorado, single-leaf, Great Basin bristlecone, ponderosa, Engelmann spruce, Rocky Mountain white), and Acer grandidentatum, quaking aspen, bigtooth maple, Utah juniper, speckled alder, red birch, Gambel oak, desert willow, blue spruce, and Joshua trees. Utah has a number of named trees, including the Jardine Juniper, Pando, and the Thousand Mile Tree. Shrubs include a number of different ephedras (pitamoreal, Navajo, Arizona, Nevada, Torrey’s jointfir, and green Mormon tea), sagebrushes (little, Bigelow, silver, Michaux’s wormwood, black, pygmy, bud, and Great Basin), blue elderberry, Utah serviceberry, chokecherry, and skunkbush sumac. Western poison oak, poison sumac, and western poison ivy are all found in Utah.
There are many varieties of cacti in Utah’s varied deserts, especially in the southern and western parts of the state. Some of these include desert prickly pear, California barrel cactus, fishhook cactus, cholla, beavertail prickly pear, and Uinta Basin hookless cactus. Despite the desert climate, many different grasses are found in Utah, including Mormon needlegrass, bluebunch wheatgrass, western alkali grass, squirreltail, desert saltgrass, and cheatgrass.
Several invasive species of plants are considered noxious weeds by the state, including Bermuda grass, field bindweed, henbane, jointed goatgrass, Canada thistle, Balkan and common toadflax, giant cane, couch grass, St. John’s wort, hemlock, sword grass, Russian olive, myrtle spurge, Japanese knotweed, salt cedar, and goat’s head.
Main article: Demographics of Utah
"Welcome to Utah" sign
At the 2020 U.S. census, Utah had a population of 3,271,616. The U.S. Census Bureau estimated that the population of Utah was 3,205,958 on July 1, 2019, a 16.00% increase since the 2010 U.S. census. The center of population of Utah is located in Utah County in the city of Lehi. Much of the population lives in cities and towns along the Wasatch Front, a metropolitan region that runs north–south with the Wasatch Mountains rising on the eastern side. Growth outside the Wasatch Front is also increasing. The St. George metropolitan area is currently the second fastest-growing in the country after the Las Vegas metropolitan area, while the Heber micropolitan area is also the second fastest-growing in the country (behind Palm Coast, Florida).
Utah contains five metropolitan areas (Logan, Ogden-Clearfield, Salt Lake City, Provo-Orem, and St. George), and six micropolitan areas (Brigham City, Heber, Vernal, Price, Richfield, and Cedar City).
Health and fertility
Utah ranks among the highest in total fertility rate, 47th in teenage pregnancy, lowest in percentage of births out of wedlock, lowest in number of abortions per capita, and lowest in percentage of teen pregnancies terminated in abortion. However, statistics relating to pregnancies and abortions may also be artificially low from teenagers going out of state for abortions because of parental notification requirements. Utah has the lowest child poverty rate in the country, despite its young demographics. According to the Gallup-Healthways Global Well-Being Index as of 2012, Utahns ranked fourth in overall well-being in the United States. A 2002 national prescription drug study determined that antidepressant drugs were "prescribed in Utah more often than in any other state, at a rate nearly twice the national average". The data shows that depression rates in Utah are no higher than the national average.
Ancestry and race
At the 2010 Census, 86.1% of the population was non-Hispanic White, down from 93.8% in 1990, 1% non-Hispanic Black or African American, 1.2% non-Hispanic Native American and Alaska Native, 2% non-Hispanic Asian, 0.9% non-Hispanic Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, 0.1% from some other race (non-Hispanic) and 1.8% of two or more races (non-Hispanic). 13.0% of Utah’s population was of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin (of any race).
Census Pop. %±
1850 11,380 —
1860 40,273 253.9%
1870 86,336 114.4%
1880 143,963 66.7%
1890 210,779 46.4%
1900 276,749 31.3%
1910 373,351 34.9%
1920 449,396 20.4%
1930 507,847 13.0%
1940 550,310 8.4%
1950 688,862 25.2%
1960 890,627 29.3%
1970 1,059,273 18.9%
1980 1,461,037 37.9%
1990 1,722,850 17.9%
2000 2,233,169 29.6%
2010 2,763,885 23.8%
2020 3,271,616 18.4%
Utah Racial Breakdown of Population
Racial composition 1970 1990 2000 2010
White 97.4% 93.8% 89.2% 86.1%
Asian 0.6% 1.9% 1.7% 2.0%
Native 1.1% 1.4% 1.3% 1.2%
Black 0.6% 0.7% 0.8% 1.0%
Native Hawaiian and
other Pacific Islander – – 0.7% 0.9%
Other race 0.2% 2.2% 4.2% 6.0%
Two or more races – – 2.1% 2.7%
Utah population density map
The largest ancestry groups in the state are:
11.8% Scandinavian (5.4% Danish, 4.0% Swedish, 2.4% Norwegian)
1.4% Scotch Irish
In 2011 one-third of Utah’s workforce was reported to be bilingual, developed through a program of acquisition of second languages beginning in elementary school, and related to Mormonism’s missionary goals for its young people.
In 2011, 28.6% of Utah’s population younger than the age of one were ethnic minorities, meaning they had at least one parent who was of a race other than non-Hispanic white.
Further information: Demographics of Utah § Religion
Religion in Utah as of 2014
The LDS Salt Lake Temple, the primary attraction in the city’s Temple Square
First Presbyterian Church in Salt Lake City
Sri Sri Radha Krishna (Hindu) Temple
Mormons are the largest religious group in Utah. However, the percentage of Mormons to the overall population has been decreasing. In 2017, 62.8% of Utahns were members of the LDS Church. This declined to 61.2% in 2018 and to 60.7% in 2019. Members of the LDS Church currently make up between 34%–41% of the population within Salt Lake City. However, many of the other major population centers such as Provo, Logan, Tooele, and St. George tend to be predominantly LDS, along with many suburban and rural areas. The LDS Church has the largest number of congregations, numbering 4,815 wards. According to results from the 2010 U.S. Census, combined with official LDS Church membership statistics, church members represented 62.1% of Utah’s total population. The Utah county with the lowest percentage of church members was Grand County, at 26.5%, while the county with the highest percentage was Morgan County, at 86.1%. In addition, the result for the most populated county, Salt Lake County, was 51.4%.
Though the LDS Church officially maintains a policy of neutrality in regard to political parties, the church’s doctrine has a strong regional influence on politics. Another doctrine effect can be seen in Utah’s high birth rate (25 percent higher than the national average; the highest for a state in the U.S.). The Mormons in Utah tend to have conservative views when it comes to most political issues and the majority of voter-age Utahns are unaffiliated voters (60%) who vote overwhelmingly Republican. Mitt Romney received 72.8% of the Utahn votes in 2012, while John McCain polled 62.5% in the 2008 United States presidential election and 70.9% for George W. Bush in 2004. In 2010 the Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA) reported that the three largest denominational groups in Utah are the LDS Church with 1,910,504 adherents; the Catholic Church with 160,125 adherents, and the Southern Baptist Convention with 12,593 adherents.
According to a Gallup poll, Utah had the third-highest number of people reporting as "Very Religious" in 2015, at 55% (trailing only Mississippi and Alabama). However, it was near the national average of people reporting as "Nonreligious" (31%), and featured the smallest percentage of people reporting as "Moderately Religious" (15%) of any state, being eight points lower than second-lowest state Vermont. In addition, it had the highest average weekly church attendance of any state, at 51%.
The official language in the state of Utah is English. Utah English is primarily a merger of Northern and Midland American dialects carried west by LDS Church members, whose original New York dialect later incorporated features from northeast Ohio and central Illinois. Conspicuous in the speech of some in the central valley, although less frequent now in Salt Lake City, is a cord-card merger, so that the vowels /ɑ/ an /ɔ/ are pronounced the same before an /ɹ/, such as in the words cord and card.
In 2000, 87.5% of all state residents five years of age or older spoke only English at home, a decrease from 92.2% in 1990.
Top 14 Non-English Languages Spoken in Utah
Language Percentage of population
(as of 2010)
Pacific Island languages including Chamorro, Hawaiian, Ilocano, Tagalog, and Samoan 0.4%
Age and gender
Utah has the highest total birth rate and accordingly, the youngest population of any U.S. state. In 2010, the state’s population was 50.2% male and 49.8% female. The life expectancy is 79.3 years.
Main article: Economy of Utah
See also: Utah locations by per capita income
The Wasatch Front region has seen large growth and development despite the economic downturn. Shown is the City Creek Center project, a development in downtown Salt Lake City with a price tag of $1.5–2.5 billion.
One out of every 14 flash memory chips in the world is produced in Lehi, Utah.
Zion National Park in southern Utah is one of five national parks in the state.
Farms and ranches
According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the gross state product of Utah in 2012 was US$130.5 billion, or 0.87% of the total United States GDP of US$14.991 trillion for the same year. The per capita personal income was $45,700 in 2012. Major industries of Utah include: mining, cattle ranching, salt production, and government services.
According to the 2007 State New Economy Index, Utah is ranked the top state in the nation for Economic Dynamism, determined by "the degree to which state economies are knowledge-based, globalized, entrepreneurial, information technology-driven and innovation-based". In 2014, Utah was ranked number one in Forbes’ list of "Best States For Business". A November 2010 article in Newsweek magazine highlighted Utah and particularly the Salt Lake City area’s economic outlook, calling it "the new economic Zion", and examined how the area has been able to bring in high-paying jobs and attract high-tech corporations to the area during a recession. As of September 2014, the state’s unemployment rate was 3.5%. In terms of "small business friendliness", in 2014 Utah emerged as number one, based on a study drawing upon data from more than 12,000 small business owners.
In eastern Utah petroleum production is a major industry. Near Salt Lake City, petroleum refining is done by a number of oil companies. In central Utah, coal production accounts for much of the mining activity.
According to Internal Revenue Service tax returns, Utahns rank first among all U.S. states in the proportion of income given to charity by the wealthy. This is due to the standard ten percent of all earnings that Mormons give to the LDS Church. According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, Utah had an average of 884,000 volunteers between 2008 and 2010, each of whom contributed 89.2 hours per volunteer. This figure equates to $3.8 billion of service contributed, ranking Utah number one for volunteerism in the nation.
Utah collects personal income tax; since 2008 the tax has been a flat five percent for all taxpayers. The state sales tax has a base rate of 6.45 percent, with cities and counties levying additional local sales taxes that vary among the municipalities. Property taxes are assessed and collected locally. Utah does not charge intangible property taxes and does not impose an inheritance tax.
Tourism is a major industry in Utah. With five national parks (Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Zion), Utah has the third most national parks of any state after Alaska and California. In addition, Utah features eight national monuments (Cedar Breaks, Dinosaur, Grand Staircase-Escalante, Hovenweep, Natural Bridges, Bears Ears, Rainbow Bridge, and Timpanogos Cave), two national recreation areas (Flaming Gorge and Glen Canyon), seven national forests (Ashley, Caribou-Targhee, Dixie, Fishlake, Manti-La Sal, Sawtooth, and Uinta-Wasatch-Cache), and numerous state parks and monuments.
The Moab area, in the southeastern part of the state, is known for its challenging mountain biking trails, including Slickrock. Moab also hosts the famous Moab Jeep Safari semiannually.
Utah has seen an increase in tourism since the 2002 Winter Olympics. Park City is home to the United States Ski Team. Utah’s ski resorts are primarily located in northern Utah near Salt Lake City, Park City, Ogden, and Provo. Between 2007 and 2011 Deer Valley in Park City, has been ranked the top ski resort in North America in a survey organized by Ski Magazine.
Utah has many significant ski resorts. The 2009 Ski Magazine reader survey co
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