Utah (abbr.: UT or Ut.), state of the United States of America, 219,932 km2, with 1.8 million inhabitants; capital city: Salt Lake City.
Utah forms the transition area of three landscape types of the United States:
- The western part is formed by the edge of the Great Basin, a drainless dry plateau with various deserts, including in the north the Great Salt Lake Desert, large parts of which are covered with salt layers. The freshwater Utah Lake (approx. 390 km2) drains via the Jordan to the large terminal lake Great Salt Lake (varying from approx. 3000 to approx. 4000 km2; salinity fluctuating between 30 and 15%). To the south are two more desert areas: Sevier Desert with the salty, dry Sevier Lake and Escalante Desert with the Little Salt Lake.
- The central part consists of an offshoot of the Rocky Mountains, the Wasatch Range, a 250 km long skewed mountain plaice, which is sharply separated from the Great Basin by a large fault. The west-east running Uinta Mountains separate the Central and Southern Rockies; Kings Peak (4123 m) is the highest point in the state.
- The southeastern part, part of the Colorado Plateau, is a dry plateau of mainly sandstone, in which deep canyons have been cut by the rivers (now a national park or national monument). In southeastern Utah, a few ‘domes’ have formed in the flat plateau; magma in the form of laccolites has superimposed the horizontal layers: Henry Mountains, Abajo Mountains and La Sal Mountains.
The main river is the Colorado, with its two tributaries, Green River and San Juan River. A dam in Arizona pushes the Colorado into Glen Canyon (Lake Powell). The southern part of the Wasatch Range is drained by the Sevier into Sevier Lake; the northern part drains into the Great Salt Lake via the Jordan, Weber and Bear. Small dams use a lot of water for irrigation.
The climate is generally dry, especially in the west, where precipitation rarely exceeds 100 mm per year and in some years none. 370 mm falls annually in Salt Lake City, on the western slope of the Wasatch Range about 1000 mm (in the highest parts in the form of snow). The average temperature in Salt Lake City is -2°C in January and 24°C in July.
The vegetation in Utah is sparse everywhere, only the higher parts of the Wasatch Range, Uinta Mountains and the domes in the southeast are heavily forested.
The average population density is 8 inhabitants. per km2. About 87% of the population lives in urban areas. The largest cities are Salt Lake City, Ogden and Provo. Approx. 70% of Utah’s population belongs to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons). See top cities in Utah.
Since the Second World War, public services, trade and industry have been the main economic pillars (together accounting for more than 70% of income). The industry is in the most dynamic sector: the metal, machine and food industries are the most important. Also petrochemical industry and manufacturing of transport equipment, electronics, publishing, printing. Hardly less important is mining (mainly oil, copper and coal; also magnesium, gold, asphalt, lead, silver and zinc). Agriculture and horticulture produce grain, sugar beet, potatoes, fruit. Livestock includes sheep, cattle, pigs and poultry.
Attractions are the national parks and natural monuments. In the northeast, on the border with Colorado, is Dinosaur National Monument, where giant Cretaceous fossils have been found. To the southeast are Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Natural Bridges National Monument (where Uinta Creek has carved three natural bridges) and Rainbow Bridge National Monument (with 94 m height and a span of 85 m the largest natural bridge in the world). Further west are Cedar Breaks National Monument, Zion National Park, and Bryce Canyon National Park; especially in the latter, the strong vertical erosion has created a fascinating landscape of thousands of pink, white and purple rocks in whimsical shapes. In addition, the Great Salt Lake, the so-called Monument Valley in the Navaho Reservation on the border with Arizona, with beautiful erosional landscapes and remains of Native American cave habitation, and various monuments of the Mormons (mainly in and around Salt Lake City). Nature also offers ample opportunity for all kinds of outdoor recreation. Around Salt Lake City, for example, there are a number of beautiful winter sports areas.
The Spaniards, led by Coronado, were probably the first whites to enter the area around 1540. It was not attractive to settlers. In 1776 two Franciscan monks wintered. After that, it was a transit area for explorers and pioneers heading west. The country would not develop until the Mormons settled in 1847. The Mormons who had emigrated from the United States under the leadership of Brigham Young organized the state of ‘Deseret’ in 1849. The federal government in Washington was suspicious of the new community, including on the grounds of officially permitted polygamy, and rejected applications for entry into the Union. Utah was formed in 1850. A theocratic state emerged in Utah with Young as dictator. Outside slander enticed U.S. President Buchanan to invade in 1857. The panicked Mormons armed themselves and staged a gruesome raid on a group of pioneers crossing their country. This resulted in 120 deaths (Mountain Meadows Massacre, Sept. 1857). A backsail was then removed from both sides. Contradictions between Mormons and non-Mormons in Utah subsequently unleashed more politically; the Mormon People’s Party and the anti-Mormon Liberal Party faced each other in the Legislative Assembly. The opening of the east-west railroad in 1869 led to an influx of immigrants and great prosperity. But Mormon rule persisted and prevented joining the United States as a state. Only when polygamy was revoked in 1890, the way was clear and in 1896 Utah was admitted to the Union as the (45th) state. Since then it has developed calmly and steadily.
National Parks Utah
Arches National Park
Stone arches (arches), rock columns, spires, pedestals and other sculptures are the most attractive features of Arches National Park. These natural structures have the ability to change color due to the amount of sunlight that falls on them. By default, the stones have a red sandstone color that is caused by erosion. Wind and water were the main natural forces that caused all kinds of strange shapes to be carved into the sandstone. From May to August it is possible to look at wild flowers in the park, because only then they grow. There are also animals such as the prairie wolf, deer, foxes, ground squirrels, rabbits, scorpions, rattlesnakes and many species of birds. The park is an ideal place to take a walking tour,
Bryce Canyon National Park
Southwestern Utah is home to Bryce Canyon National Park, which was created in 1928. To get to the rim of Bryce Canyon you will have to make a long trek through the woods to find a nice view. The sandstone found in Bryce Canyon can also change color as the amount of sunlight increases or decreases. Ground squirrels, prairie dogs, lynx, badgers, coyotes, cougars, and mule deer are the largest critters roaming the park. The Bryce Canyon Lodge is the ideal place to stay between May and the end of September as it houses a hotel and restaurant.
Canyonlands National Park
This is one of the roughest national parks in the United States and consists of a maze of gorges and canyons that can reach a depth of 300 meters. The Colorado River and the Green River converge in this park and then collapse together into the abyss of Cataract Canyon. This whitewater road is seen by the Americans as the most difficult of the United States. Canyonlands National Park was created in 1964 and covers an area of 1,367 km². The national park has a desert climate and therefore the temperatures are very high in the summer and still quite pleasant in the winter. To stay overnight in the national park, you are referred to the camping areas at Squaw Flat or Willow Flat. To get to know the park well, it is best to take a trip by canoe,
Capitol Reef National Park
Much like Canyonlands National Park, this park was created to preserve the natural rock formations created by erosion and to protect Native American heritage. The park takes its name from the Capitol Dome. That is a large rock that is very high and resembles the dome of the Capitol in Washington DC. Two parts divide the park, namely Capitol Gorge to the south and Cathedral Valley to the north. Capitol Gorge is a narrow gorge that traverses Waterpocket Field and Cathedral Valley is a valley in which large rocks 150 meters high rise from the ground. It is best to spend the night in one of the following towns: Torrey, Bicknell, Loa or Fremont.
Zion National Park
The Zion Canyon is the main attraction of this national park. This canyon is 24 kilometers long and over 800 meters deep. The rocks and other natural formations were formed over 200 million years ago. The area is home to over 230 species of birds and consists largely of forests of pine, aspen, silver pine and Douglas fir. It can snow in Zion National Park between the end of December and March, so the roads will be impassable for some time, but they are usually cleaned. The average temperature in winter is 12 degrees Celsius and in summer between 32 and 39 degrees Celsius.