Utah is in the Mountain West region of the Western United States. Colorado borders Utah on the east, Wyoming on the northeast, Idaho on the north, Arizona on the south, and Nevada on the west. In the southeast, Utah touches a corner of New Mexico.
QUICK FACTS ABOUT UTAH
- Capital City: Salt Lake City
- Largest City: Salt Lake City
- Nickname: The Mormon State
- Statehood: January 4, 1896; 45th state
- Population (as of 2020): 3,271,616
- Abbreviation: UT
- State bird: California gull
- State flower: sego lily
- Total Size Of The State: 84,899 sq mi (219,887 km2)
Thanks to a recently discovered Ice Age campsite, archaeologists know that people have lived in the land now known as Utah for more than 12,000 years. They also found waterfowl bones that prehistoric people probably cooked and a spear point used to hunt mammoths.
Navajo, Goshute, Ute, Paiute, Bannock, and Shoshone are among the Native American tribes that have evolved over thousands of years. Today, their descendants live in Wyoming.
Spanish explorers first arrived in the area around 1776. Mexico gained independence in 1821, claiming parts of the area. Neither of these claims lasted, however. Mexico ceded Utah to the United States as part of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848 after the United States won the Mexican-American War. The U.S. government made it the 45th state in 1896.
Why Does It Have That Name?
There is disagreement over the name of Utah. It is said that it is derived from the Spanish term for the Ute Native American tribe, Yuta. However, others claim the name could be derived from the Ute word yutas, which means “people” or “mountains.”
Because pioneers in Utah considered themselves as hard-working as bees, the state is nicknamed the Beehive State. It is believed that the name was coined by people of the Mormon faith who emigrated to Utah in 1847 for religious freedom.
Geographic Features and Landforms
The state is bordered to the north by Idaho and Wyoming, to the east by Colorado, to the south by Arizona, and the west by Nevada. The state’s southeast corner borders Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado. “Four Corners” is the only place in the nation where four states meet!
Utah is divided into three major geographic areas: the Rocky Mountains, the Basin and Ridge Region, and the Colorado Plateau.
In Utah, the Rocky Mountains run from the northeastern to the central parts of the state. The highest point in Utah is Kings Peak, at 13,528 feet.
The Colorado Plateau dominates Utah’s southern third. The region may seem flat but it has mountains, canyons, and valleys. Many western movies have featured Monument Valley’s red mesas and rock spires, and Zion National Park’s Zion Canyon is another red rock hot spot. The hoodoos at Bryce Canyon look like crazy artificial sculptures but were formed naturally by erosion.
In western Utah, mountains and salt flats exist in the Basin and Ridge Region. You will find the saltiest body of water on Earth here, the Great Salt Lake!
The Natural World
Utah’s mountains are home to the Rocky Mountain elk, the state’s animal. Among Utah’s mammals are desert bighorn sheep, mountain lions, white-tailed jackrabbits, Piute ground squirrels, and Hopi chipmunks.
The red-tailed hawk, American kestrel, golden eagle, red-winged blackbird, and green-tailed towhee are a few birds that fly through the state.
Among Utah’s reptiles are side-blotched lizards, Utah mountain kingsnakes, and desert tortoises, while Great Plains toads and Arizona tiger salamanders are among the state’s amphibians.
Quaking aspens are the state tree of Utah and are found in all 29 counties. In addition, Utah junipers, canyon maples, pinyon pines, and Joshua trees flourish in Utah.
The state flower is the sego lily. Unfortunately, early settlers ate its bulbs. There are also Utah honeysuckle, Utah serviceberry, and small flower woodland star, which looks like a snowflake.
Fertilizers, medicines, and food are made from potassium chloride in Moab, Utah. Furthermore, Uintah mines gilsonite (also known as uintaite), producing asphalt, paint, and cement. Utah has one of the world’s largest open-pit copper mines, and copper is the state mineral. The depth of it is so great that two 1,454-foot Willis Towers (the second tallest tower in the U.S.) could fit inside!
Salt Lake City offers rockhounds a range of semiprecious stones, including the rare red beryl, the purple bertrandite, and topaz, the state gemstone.
Some Fun Facts About Utah
- The famous outlaw Butch Cassidy, hotel chain founder J.W. Hilton, and early television inventor Philo T. Farnsworth were all born in Utah.
- In Park City, Utah, the Sundance Film Festival is held annually.
- In addition to ice cream made at Utah State University, visitors can taste Oreos and white chocolate chips flavored with blue mint. Students and faculty in the school’s food science program may have invented it!
- Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, a 200-million-year-old natural staircase, is an excellent place to see Utah’s famous red rocks.
- One more impressive rock formation is “the Wave” on the Arizona border. Windblown sand forms giant waves of striped layers.
- Utah’s license plate boasts that it has the “greatest snow on earth” because the snow falls light and dry on the mountains.
- Fishlake National Forest is located in Utah.