Nephi lies at the mouth of Salt Creek Canyon, surrounded on the west by the farmland of Juab Valley. The imposing 11,928-foot peak of Mount Nebo rises high above the city from the Wasatch Mountains lining the valley's eastern side. Surrounded by grassland and sagebrush, the many trees planted in the city makes the city visible from across the valley.
Mormon pioneers settled at Nephi in 1851, calling it Salt Creek after the creek flowing through the town. For protection from Indians, they built a wall of gravel, mud and straw around the city, enclosing an area three block by three blocks. They laid out a spacious city with wide streets and large lots and used irrigation water to feed themselves from the desert soil. Eventually, the the town was renamed after a Book of Mormon prophet.
Nephi's population is 4,733, as of the year 2000. Interstate 15 connects it to Utah Valley on the north and the wide open spaces of central Utah to the south. Before the freeway was built, U.S. Highway 91 was the north-south route through town, passing through on Main Street. Utah Highway 132 crosses the city east to west, leading up Salt Creek Canyon on the east. The elevation ranges from 5,100 feet to 5,200 feet.