Utah, legendary home of the Mormon pioneers, is a colorful land of diverse geography, numerous recreational resources, quiet towns and flourishing cities. There are five national parks in Utah, Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef and Zion. Beyond these most of the southeast part of the state is a fascinating wonderland of rock formations, cliffs and mountains. Much of the northeastern part of the state is covered with forested mountains at the heart of which is the Uinta Mountains which reach elevations above 13,000 feet. Great Salt Lake, which is saltier than the ocean, is in the northwest corner of Utah.
The Mormon settlement began July 24, 1847 when Brigham Young and others entered the Salt Lake Valley, where he looked at the then barren landscape and declared “This is the Place.” Within a few years they built Salt Lake City into a thriving city and settled much of the mountain west. In 1848, after the pioneers arrived, Utah became a U.S. possession, acquired from Mexico after the Mexican War. In 1850 the Territory of Utah was organized, and on January 4, 1896, Utah became the 45th state. It is the eleventh largest state in land area with 84,916 square miles.
The Wasatch Front is where the jagged edge of the mountains meets the basins of the Great Salt Lake, and is the home to cities such as Salt Lake City, Provo, Orem, Ogden and Logan, which thrive on the water flowing out of the mountains into an otherwise arid land.
Utah is bordered by Arizona on the south, Nevada on the west, Idaho on the north, Colorado on the east, and Wyoming on the northeast. Interstate 15 is the major north-south freeway in Utah, entering at the southwest corner, and heading north along the Wasatch Front and into Idaho. Interstate 80 is the major east-west route, crossing from Wyoming into Nevada. Interstate 70 also connects from I-15 into Colorado.
The Colorado River crosses the southeast corner of the state at an elevation much lower than the surrounding country, which has contributed to rugged terrain of that part of the state, being carved up into deep canyons. The Green River passes along the eastern border, meeting up with the Colorado River at Canyonlands National Park. The Bear River, the longest inland river in the world, begins in Utah in the Uinta Mountains, passes through Wyoming and Idaho before returning to Utah to drain into Great Salt Lake. The Sevier River begins in southern Utah, and flows north to the middle of the state, and then turns west to drain into the deserts. Ancient Lake Bonneville used to cover much of Utah, reaching into Arizona, Nevada and Idaho. Great Salt Lake is its remnant, and its seafloor today is a desert of salt flats and alkali soils which extends hundreds of miles to the south.