Primarily settled by the Mormons after the establishment of Salt Lake City in 1847, Utah was popular in the 1820’s with “mountain men” in search of beavers for their prized pelts. Many other pioneers passed through the state, establishing small settlements and trading posts. The ill-fated Donner Party who took their wagon train on a new route called the Hastings Cutoff, which crossed Utah’s Wasatch Mountains and Great Salt Lake Desert, was one of many parties passing through Utah en route to California. During the migration, Utah became home to the first transcontinental railroad with the driving of a golden spike at Promontory Summit in 1869. Utah joined the nation in 1896 as the 45th state.
Today, Utah is known as a great vacationland with over 11,000 miles of streams and over 100,000 acres of lakes and reservoirs. In addition to being one of the top ski destinations in the US, the state is home to Monument Valley and five National Parks: Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Zion National Parks. The state’s economy relies heavily on tourism, which yields over $6 billion in revenue yearly. Utah is also a leading producer of copper, gold, silver, lead and zinc. Utah shares rich oil shale deposits with Colorado and Wyoming and has large deposits of low-sulphur coal, making mining an important industry in the state.
Utah is bordered by the states of Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico and Wyoming. Utah covers almost 85,000 square miles, making it the 13th largest state in the United States and the 34th most populous state. The 5 largest cities in Utah, in order, are Salt Lake City (the state’s capital, with a population of close to 180,000), Provo, West Valley City, West Jordan and Orem.