Utah Travel Guide
Meaning ‘People of the Mountains’ in the language of the Ute Indians, the Beehive State of Utah has seen a steady increase in tourism over the last decade. Today, nearly a million travelers visit this western state every year, with 90 percent of them arriving in order to see the state’s famous national parks and enjoy the numerous outdoor adventures.
Utah is known for its diverse landscape, ranging from snowy mountains and river valleys, coniferous forests and arid to sandy deserts, but much of its rugged regions remain largely uninhabited, with the concentration of ‘Utahns’ residing in Salt Lake City.
Oddly, Utah’s most unique features are its variety of terrain and extreme climate. Low humidity and high elevation ensure cold winters and very hot summers, while occasional extreme summer weather sees dry-lightning strikes as the cause of wildfires and infrequent but intense thunderstorms forcing flash floods during the monsoon season from July to September. Averaging two per year, tornados are uncommon in Utah and those above F1 intensity are the exception rather than the rule.
Outdoor activities including horseback riding, mountain climbing, cycling, skiing, camping and backpacking are the principal reasons that draw visitors to explore the landscapes, national parks and monuments of Utah. With five important parks in the state to choose from, the 229 square mile Zion National Park near Springdale is home to Zion Canyon, a 15-mile long, half-mile deep crevasse through the reddish-tan Navajo Sandstone, possessing four distinct life zones and a catalogue of species too diverse to list.
The center of Utah’s religious influence and the state capital, Salt Lake City claims a 61 percent membership to the Mormon faith. Temple Square is a 10 acre holy place dedicated to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with several monuments, wooded areas and gardens. The Tabernacle, Temple and Temple Annex are open to the public.
One of the major indoor attractions in the area is the Clark Planetarium in the Gateway Mall in downtown Salt Lake City. Multi-vision and laser show astronomy presentations are quite popular, and there is also an observatory and science museum.