Utah, United States

About Utah

Utah is a western state of the United States. Approximately 80% of Utah's 2,736,424 people live along the Wasatch Front, centering on Salt Lake City. This leaves vast expanses of the state nearly uninhabited, making the population the sixth most urbanized in the U.S. The state is a center of transportation, information technology and research, government services, mining, and a major tourist destination for outdoor recreation. St. George, Utah, was the fastest growing metropolitan area in the United States from 2000–2005. Utah is generally rocky with three distinct geological regions: the Rocky Mountains, the Great Basin, and the Colorado Plateau. Utah is a great geographical tourism site. 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. Utah 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 (at the Four Corners Monument); by Arizona in the south; and by Nevada in the west.

Utah Tourism and Recreation

The top tourist attractions in Utah include Temple Square, Zion National Park, Glen Canyon National Recreation Center, Wasatch Mountain State Park, and Lagoon Amusement Park. Pioneer Trail State Park and Hogle Zoological Gardens are leading attractions of Salt Lake City, about 11 miles east of the Great Salt Lake. At the Bonneville Salt Flats, experimental automobiles have set world land-speed records. Utah has 41 state parks, 5 national parks, and 8 national monuments. Mountain and rock climbing, skiing, fishing, and hunting are major forms of recreation.

Utah Climate

The climate of Utah is generally semiarid to arid. Temperatures are favorable along the Wasatch Front, where there are relatively mild winters. At Salt Lake City, the normal daily mean temperature is 52°F (11°C), ranging from 28°F (–2°C) in January to 78°F (26°C) in July. The record high temperature, 117°F (47°C), was set at St. George on 5 July 1985; the record low temperature, –69°F (–56°C), in Peter's Sink, on 1 February 1985. The average annual precipitation varies from less than 5 in (12.7 cm) in the west to over 40 in (102 cm) in the mountains, with Salt Lake City receiving 16.5 in (42 cm) per year.

Utah features a dry, semi-arid to arid 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 mid-October through April, although northern Utah often sees these large storms earlier and later. In summer, the state, especially southern and eastern Utah, lies in the path of monsoon moisture from the Gulf of California.

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.

Utah Transportaion

I-15 and I-80 are the main interstate highways in the state, where they intersect and briefly merge near downtown Salt Lake City. I-15 traverses the entire state north-to-south, entering from Arizona near St. George, traversing the entire Wasatch Front, and exiting into Idaho near Portage. I-80 spans northern Utah east-to-west, entering from Nevada at Wendover, crossing the Wasatch Mountains east of Salt Lake City, and entering Wyoming near Evanston. I-84.

I-70 splits from I-15 at Cove Fort in central Utah and heads east through mountains and rugged desert terrain, providing quick access to the many national parks and national monuments of southern Utah, and has been noted for its beauty.

A light rail system in the Salt Lake Valley, known as TRAX, consists of two lines, both ending in Downtown Salt Lake City, with one heading to the suburb of Sandy and the other to the University of Utah.

Salt Lake City International Airport is the only international airport in the state and serves as a hub of Delta Air Lines. Ground has recently been broken on creating a new, larger regional airport in St. George, due to the rapidly-growing population and the lack of room for expansion for the current airport. Completion is expected in 2011.