Centrally located in the Intermountain West, Utah is bordered by all of the mountain states except Montana and is often called the "Crossroads of the West."
The state's centrality is important to the prosperity of the Wasatch Front, Utah's core area, and particularly to the Salt Lake City metropolitan area.
At 84,916 square miles or 54,340,240 acres, Utah is the thirteenth largest state in the United States. Approximately three percent of the surface is covered by water.
Rising to 13,528 feet, Kings Peak is the highest spot in Utah, and Beaver Dam Wash in the southwestern corner of the state is the lowest point at 2,350 feet. Only the Uinta Mountains have peaks that exceed 13,000 feet, and there are twenty-four of them that do. Three other mountains systems have peaks that exceed 12,000 feet--the La Sal, Tushar, and Deep Creek Mountains. The highest peak in the Wasatch Mountains, Mount Nebo, is 11,877 feet.
Utah's landform is divided among three major physiographic provinces: the Great Basin or Basin and Range province, the Colorado Plateau province, and the Rocky Mountain province.
Climate and Weather
While Utah is widely perceived to be a desert state, and statistically it is the second driest state in the nation, its climate, soils, and vegetation are as diverse as are its landforms.
Utah has three climatic regions--humid, sub-humid or semi-arid, and arid--and each region covers about one-third of the state. The high mountains and plateaus are humid; the lower basins, valleys, and flatlands are often arid; and the transitional places in between are sub-humid to semi-arid.
The arid region generally receives less than eight inches of precipitation annually and has an annual evapo-transpiration rate often 30 to 50 inches. The humid zone generally has eighteen inches or more of precipitation, and its precipitation by definition exceeds the evapo-transpiration rate.
While most of the moisture in Utah is associated with frontal systems from the Pacific Ocean, there is a period in mid- to late summer when convectional rainfall is very important, particularly in the southern and eastern parts of the state. During this time, moist air masses from the Gulf of California or the Gulf of Mexico periodically enter the state. The moist air is unstable and convectional processes frequently cause cloudbursts and flash flooding. The heavy convectional precipitation tends to be localized, but in the narrow canyons of southern Utah the danger of flash floods is high both from local cloudbursts and from heavy downpours that might fall many miles upstream importance.
Land Ownership . Federal ownership accounts for 67 percent of the land in Utah, with another four percent included in Indian reservations. The primary federal landlords are the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the Forest Service, the Department of Defense, and the National Park Service.
Private ownership claims 22 percent of the land, and the remaining seven percent is owned by the state.
Agriculture . Much of the naturally best agricultural land in Utah is along the Wasatch Front, but is not farmed. It is used for cities, suburbs, factories, shopping centers, roads, and highways. Agriculture cannot compete favorably with more lucrative land uses in this region.
Livestock dominates Utah agriculture because grazing is the best and sometimes the only reasonable agricultural use for huge areas of the state due to the climate, the landform, or both. Dry farming and growing fruit on benchlands are other ways farmers have accommodated to the natural environment.
The most important of the market-oriented agricultural activities is the dairy industry. There is some truck gardening to supply fresh produce to the local markets, but it is much less significant today than it was in the past. Turkey and mink growing are two prominent targets of opportunity products, while cotton and sugar beets were of historical
General Utah State History
During the Mesozoic Era (230 to 65 million years ago(, many types of dinosaurs lived in the eastern and southern parts of what is now known as Utah. Their fossilized remnants are still being discovered and unearthed. Ancient Pueblo cultures, known as the Anasazi and Fremont Indians, had an agricultural lifestyle in southern Utah from about 1. A.D. to 1300. Utes and Navajos lived across what is now Utah for centuries before the arrival of explorers, mountain men, and pioneers. While residents of the eastern United States were declaring independence from England,, Catholic Spanish Explorers and Mexican traders drew maps and kept journals documenting Utah's terrain, and the native people, as well as plants and animals. In the 1820's mountain men roamed northern Utah, taking advantage of abundant fur trapping opportunities. During 1847, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) migrated to the Salt Lake Valley seeking religious freedom. Before the first Transcontinental Railroad was completed at Promontory, Utah in May of 1869, more than 60,000 Mormons had come to the territory by covered wagon or handcart. After decades of conflict and misunderstandings, Utah became America's 45th state on January 4, 1896. During the last century, people of many ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds made Utah their home, drawn by the state's beauty, and by an abundance of economic opportunities. Together, this diverse populace made, and continues to make, great contributions to Utah's quality of life.
Canyonlands National Park
Views thousand of feet down tot he Green and Colorado Rivers, or thousands of feet up to red rock pinnacles, cliffs and spires create the incredible beauty of Utah's largest national park. The two rivers have sliced Canyonlands Nation Park into three districts, each named according to its distinctive landscape; Island in the Sky, Needles and The Maze. This rugged national park is world-renowned for its four-wheel driving, mountain biking, whitewater rafting and hiking. Major entrances to the park are accessible for US 191, 35 miles northwest of Moab and 22 miles north of Monticello. Visitor centers are open year-round with reduced hours in winter. A reservation office open Monday-Friday accepts reservations for backpacking permits, four-wheel drive campsites, same day use in the Needles District and group campsites.
Pioneer Memorial Museum (Daughters of Utah Pioneers Museum)
The Pioneer Memorial Museum (Daughters of Utah Pioneers Museum) houses the world's largest collection of artifacts on one particular subject and features displays and collections of memorabilia of Utah Pioneers. Collection includes paintings by noted Utah artists, guns, quilts, flags, furniture, books, hand-made clothing, etc. The museum is open to the public without charge. Donations are welcomed.