State: Utah – UT

Published on October 9th, 2015 | by Brandon Ramsey in Geography


The state abbreviation for Utah is UT. It is located in the western United States and was the 45th of the 50 U.S. States to be admitted to the Union on January 4, 1896. Today we’ll be looking in-depth information about the state as a whole, it’s history, geography, and climate.

First, we’ll take a look at some key information that should be known prior to the other items:

  • State capital: Salt Lake City
  • Nickname: Beehive State
  • Motto: Industry
  • Area: 84,889 square miles (ranked 13th)
  • Population: 2,949,902 (ranked 33rd)
  • Highest point: Kings Peak (13,518 feet)
  • Admitted to the Union: January 4, 1896 (45th)
  • Time zone: Mountain UTC -7/-6
  • State Flag
  • Official website: utah.gov
  • State animal: Rocky Mountain Elk
  • Astronomical symbol: Beehive Cluster (located in the Cancer constellation)
  • Bird: California gull
  • Fish: Bonneville Cutthroat Trout
  • Flower: Sego Lily
  • Tree: Quaking Aspen
  • Vegetable: Spanish sweet onion

map of Utah in the United States

UT State Overview

This is the 13th largest and 33rd-most populated of the United States. The total population is about 2.9 million, 80 percent of which live along the Wasatch Front. It is bordered by Colorado to the east, Wyoming to the northeast, Idaho to the north, Arizona to the south, and Nevada to the west.

Roughly 62% of citizens are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or Mormons. The church’s headquarters are located in Salt Lake City. It is the only state with a Mormon majority in the United States and a population belonging to a single church.

This is a major center of transportation, education, information technology and research, government services, mining, and tourism. In 2013, the U.S. Census Bureau predicted that Utah had the fastest-growing population of any state.

A Gallup survey in 2012 found that it was also the best state to live in based on 13 measurements ranging from economic, lifestyle, and health-related outlooks.

The name of the state comes from the Ute tribe, which means “people of the mountains” in that language.

map of Utah

The History of the State

There were inhabitants in the area for thousands of years before the arrival of European settlers. They were composed of the Anasazi/Ancestral Pueblo and Fremont tribes. These people built straw houses and excavated mountains for shelter.

The Navajo tribe settled here around the 18th century. The area was first explored by Europeans in 1540 by Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado. He was there looking for the legendary Cibola, or the Seven Cities of Gold.

In 1824, Jim Bridger became the first white person to sight the Great Salt Lake. He mistakenly thought he had discovered the Pacific Ocean, but it was actually just a giant salt lake. After this discovery, American and Canadian traders and trappers set up shop in the region.

The Mormons soon came here seeking a place to practice their religion without harassment. While they struggled to survive in the early years, they  were soon joined by more than 70,000 pioneers over the next 22 years.

When the first pioneers arrived in 1847, the area was owned by Mexico. The entire southwest region came under ownership of the United States when the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed on February 2, 1848. When the territory was established, disputes emerged between the Mormons and the U.S. Government over their practice of plural marriage or polygamy.

The state became known for its natural beauty in the early 20th when the Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park were established. The southern portion of the state also became a major spot for filming rugged scenes in the western film genre.

Landmarks like the Delicate Arch and “the mittens” of Monument were suddenly easily recognizable thanks to their appearance in so many films. In 1939, the Alta Ski Area was established and is now a world-renowned location.

The snow of the Wasatch Range is considered to be some of the best skiing in the world.Salt Lake City won the bid for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, which was a major boost to the state’s economy. The state grew very quick in the late 20th century.

Geography and Climate Features

Utah is known for having a wide range of natural diversity. It has everything from arid deserts, to pine forests and mountain valleys. It is also one of the Four Corners states. Down the middle and in the upper north is the Wasatch Range which has elevations up to 12,000 feet.

This is where you will find the world-renowned ski resorts. Winter storms here dump up to three feet of snow on the mountains. At the western base of the range is the Wasatch Front. This is a series valleys and basins where most of the population resides.

The western portion of the state is mostly composed of deserts with basin and range topography. The Bonneville Salt Flats are the exception. They once formed the base of the ancient Lake Bonneville. To the west of the Great Salt Lake is the Great Sale Lake Desert.

Much of the scenic landscape in southern and southeastern UT is sandstone. The Colorado River and its tributaries flow through this sandstone. The climate here is a dry, semi-arid to desert climate. The mountains, however, feature a large variety of climates because of their elevation.

The dry weather here is a result of the location within the rain shadow of the Sierra Nevada. The main source of precipitation is the Pacific Ocean. The state lies in the path of many storms during the months of October to May.

Many of the lowland areas receive less than 12 inches of precipitation each years. In terms of snow, some areas of the Wasatch Range receive up to 500 inches per year. This consistently deep snow in the mountain areas has led the state to adopt the slogan “The Greatest Snow on Earth.”

The temperatures here are extreme to say the least. Winters are very cold in highly elevated areas, and summers are incredibly hot in the desert regions. Temperatures below 0 degrees Fahrenheit are expected in certain regions.

Final Thoughts

While you may think you know everything there is to know about this place, you should also check out our list of Utah state facts to make sure you’ve covered everything. Thanks for reading and be sure to share your own knowledge of this state in the comments below!

printable map of Utah



About the Author
Brandon Ramsey

Brandon Ramsey is the head author and editor of The Time Now Blog. Be sure to follow us via social media!


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