85 Fun & Interesting Facts About Utah

Are you ready to dive into the wonders of a state known for its breathtaking landscapes and fascinating history? Let’s pack our adventure gear and set off to explore Utah, a place where nature’s artwork is on full display and every corner tells a story. From stunning national parks to ancient history, Utah is a treasure trove of exciting discoveries. So, let’s get started and uncover some amazing facts about Utah!

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First up, did you know that Utah is home to some of the most beautiful national parks in the United States? Places like Zion, Arches, and Bryce Canyon show off massive rock formations that look like they’ve been sculpted by giant artists. These parks are famous for their towering red rock cliffs, deep canyons, and stunning natural arches. Imagine walking through these landscapes and feeling like you’ve stepped onto another planet!

Utah is also a place with a deep history. Long before it became a state, ancient Native American tribes like the Anasazi and Fremont people lived here. They left behind incredible artwork known as petroglyphs, carved right into the rock faces. These carvings are like messages from the past, telling stories about the people who lived here thousands of years ago.

And here’s a fun fact about Utah: they love outdoor sports! With its snowy mountains, Utah is a paradise for skiers and snowboarders in the winter. Places like Park City and Alta are famous around the world for their perfect snow conditions. In the summer, these mountains transform into great spots for hiking, mountain biking, and camping.

Are you excited to learn more facts about Utah? From its dramatic landscapes and ancient rock art to its outdoor adventures, Utah is full of surprises and fun facts. Let’s keep exploring and discover all the amazing things that make Utah a unique and fascinating place to learn about!

Be sure to check out our facts about other places like our Facts about Alabama and our Facts about Rhode Island.

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Facts About Utah

  1. In 1912, the first electric traffic light was developed by a policeman Lester F. Wire in Salt Lake City. It was first installed at the intersection of 200 South and Main Street in Salt Lake City. 
  2. The Bingham Canyon Mine is considered to be the biggest man-made pit in the world. For over a century, miners have been at work here. Every day the pit gets bigger as the mining company continues to take out about 250,000 tons of rock from it. 
  3. Newspaper rock – the symbols etched in sandstone act as a 2,000-year-old newspaper of native cultures.
  4. Polygamy was practiced in Utah until it was banned in 1890 as a condition of being granted statehood. Today there are roughly 40,000 polygamous marriages in the state of Utah, mostly among breakaway Mormon fundamentalist groups.
  5. Kanab, Utah, is also known as “Little Hollywood” because over 100 movies (mostly Westerns) and many T.V. series have been filmed there since 1924. Famous movies include Stage Coach, The Lone Ranger, Gunsmoke, Planet of the Apes, The Outlaw Josey Wales, and Sergeants 3.
  6. Arches National Park got its name from the 2000 natural sandstone arches spread around the park. The most famous one among them is affectionately called “Delicate Arch.”
  7. Salt Lake covers roughly 2,100 square miles and contains around 4.9 billion tons of salt—much saltier than the ocean.
  8. The snow density in Utah’s famous Cottonwood Canyons is 8.5%, which is the perfect “body” for a perfect ski day.
  9. According to historical data, January 13 is the golden winter day, perfect for skiing in Utah. This day has the highest likelihood of receiving snowfall.
  10. The presence of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) in Utah profoundly influences the state’s culture. 
  11. Utah is the only state in the U.S. where each county contains a piece of national forest. 
  12. The state of Utah has some natural arches at Arches National Park
  13. Kane County, Utah has played set for numerous Western movies and television shows over the years, including Gunsmoke and The Lone Ranger.
  14. The average age in Utah is 31.1, compared to the national average of 38.1. Even though there has been a slight increase since the 2016 census, Utah remains one of the youngest states, age-wise, in the US. Many factors contribute to this, like the state’s high birth rate, which consistently ranks among the highest in the nation. 
  15. Utah’s Great Salt Lake is about four times saltier than any of the world’s oceans. If a person boiled 1 quart of water from the saltiest part of the lake, a half cup of salt would remain. It is so salty because as the ancient Lake Bonneville dried up, salt and other minerals were left behind. Because the shrinking lake had no stream out to sea, the salt deposits became concentrated in the lake.
  16. During the Utah War (1857–1858), over 120 unarmed settlers, including women and children, were murdered by a group of Mormon militiamen. The militia initially claimed Native Americans killed the settlers. The motives behind the massacre remain unclear, though historians point to war hysteria and a fear of outsiders. Scholars still debate whether the Mormon leader, Brigham Young, ordered the massacre or if the responsibility lies with local leaders in southern Utah.
  17. In Utah, there is a town called “Levan.” Levan is “navel” backward—and Levan is in the center, or is the “navel,” of Utah.
  18. About 13% of Utah’s children live in households headed by a woman with no husband present, which is lower than the national average of 25%.
  19. Utah restaurants and bars have a unique partition that separates restaurant bartenders who are preparing drinks from the customers who order them. Their aim is to prevent excessive drinking by keeping alcohol out of sight. These partitions are called “Zion Curtains” by locals.
  20. Utah is the only state to have a cooking pot among its state symbols. The Dutch oven was approved as a state symbol by the legislature in 1997.
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  1. On May 10, 1869, the First Transcontinental Railroad was completed at Promontory Summit, Utah. The event was billed as the “Wedding of the Rails.”
  2. Utah is home to 25 colleges and universities. Two universities, Brigham Young University and the University of Utah are traditionally rivals in several athletic fields. Their annual college game is nicknamed the “Holy War,” mainly because the LDS church owns BYU, while the U is a secular university.
  3. The largest raptor to be unearthed in the world was in Utah. The 23-foot-long predatory dinosaur was named Utahraptor. It had curved claws that were about 24 centimeters long, and a preserved claw that was recovered had a length of 22 centimeters.
  4. The Utah prairie dogs live in large colonies called dog towns.
  5. Utah adopted the current flag on February 16, 2011. It is a refinement of the original 1903 design with full color and manufacturing corrections.
  6. People from Utah are called Utahns and Utahans.
  7. An average of 500 inches of snow falls every year in the mountains around Salt Lake City.
  8. In 2015, Gary Herbert, the governor of Utah, approved bringing back the firing squad for executing those on death row.
  9. The Sego Lily in the flag is the state flower. It is one of the few plants that thrive in the arid climate of the Great Basin. It helped early settlers survive harsh winters.
  10. Two dates appear on Utah’s state seal: 1847, the date Mormon settlers arrived in Utah, and 1896, the year Utah became the 45th state. Also on the seal are sego lilies, which stand for peace and are the state flower.
  11. The FBI holds various Utah “secrets” in its vault, including UFO sightings in Utah, snooping into whether the Utah NAACP had been infiltrated by communists, a death threat in Utah against Lady Bird Johnson, information on serial killer Ted Bundy, and former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s dislike of Cleon Skousen (who has become an important figure in today’s Tea Party movement).
  12. Utah claims to have the “Greatest Snow on Earth” because of the state of Utah’s high elevation and desert-like climate, its snow is dry and powdery. Hence, Utah claims to have the “Greatest Snow on Earth.”
  13. More Utahans are married than the citizens in any other U.S. state
  14. Utah has the highest percentage of plastic surgeons per capita than any other state
  15. Utah is the second-driest state in the United States after Nevada. On average, Utah has about 300 sunny days a year.
  16. The state has a wide range of activities, from hiking amidst stunning canyons to mountain biking to skiing and snowboarding. You can also fish in lakes or streams, take a boat out on the reservoir, or try your hand at water sports.
  17. Utah’s art and music scene is filled with numerous galleries, theaters, and performance spaces. Prestigious institutions such as the Utah Symphony, Ballet West, and the Utah Museum of Fine Arts contribute to the state’s cultural richness. 
  18. Utah was originally settled by Mormon pioneers in 1847, but would not become a state until 1896. Today, much of Utah’s population remains of the Mormon faith (around 60%). 
  19. The name “Beehive State” for Utah has a historical origin. It was chosen by the Mormon pioneers who settled in the area in the 1840s as a symbol of industry, thrift, and cooperation. The beehive is also featured on the state flag and seal of Utah.
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  1. Utah has a state fossil called the Allosaurus believed to have lived during the Late Jurassic period many millions of years ago.
  2. The name “Utah” is derived from the name of the Ute Native American tribe. The name means “people of the mountains.”
  3. Utah has an average of only 32 people per square mile and is one of the most thinly populated states in the nation. Most Utahans live in the towns and cities along the Wasatch Front, which is the western side of the Wasatch Mountains (which is a range of the Rocky Mountains). Utah is the 13th largest, the 33rd most populous, and the 10th least densely populated state in the U.S.
  4. Lagoon—located in Farmington, Utah—is the oldest operating amusement park in West America, and its original roller coaster, named “Old Woodie,” is the 3rd oldest in the nation.
  5. Walter Frederick Morrison, the man credited with inventing the Frisbee, was born in Richfield, Utah. He said he got the idea for the “Pluto Platter” after throwing cake tins on the beach.
  6. Approximately 75 million years ago, Utah was part of a landmass called Laramidia. This land mass was hot, swampy, and full of dinosaurs, which makes Utah one of the best places in the U.S. to find dinosaur fossils. In fact, the world’s largest raptor lived in Utah. Known as the “Utahraptor,” it measured over 23 feet long, making it larger than any other known raptor.
  7. The 30,000 acres of the Bonneville Salt Flats offer an incredible sight. The smooth and densely packed salt terrain makes this area of great interest to speed racers
  8. Utah is home to the largest independent film festival in the country, the Sundance Film Festival. In fact, it was originally known as the Utah Film Festival.
  9. In 1896, Martha Hughes Cannon was elected the first woman senator. Interestingly, one of her opponents was her husband. She received 10,288 votes while her husband only received 8,054 votes.
  10. The flag uses a proportion of 5:8. Note that the top of the shield has six arrows representing Native American tribes in Utah. They include the Navajo, Goshute, Shoshone, Paiute, Northern Utes, and White Mesa Utes.
  11. Utah has one of the highest rates of prescription drug abuse in the United States. Over the past decade, it has increase by 800%.
  12. Approximately 82% of Utahans are of European descent. Hispanics or Latinos are the next largest ethnic group in the state, making up almost 12% of the population. Utah has smaller populations of Asians, African Americans, and Native Americans.
  13. In 2012, Utah had the fourth highest bankruptcy filing in the United States, with 5.99 petitions for every 1,000 people. The average nationwide per capita filing rate was 3.97 petitions for every 1,000 people.
  14. Utah Lake is 24 miles long and 12 miles across. Almost 41% of the lake evaporates each year. There used to be a showboat on the lake that included on-deck dancing and a full orchestra.
  15. July 24th, 1847 marked the arrival of Mormon pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley. That is why the citizens of Utah celebrate Pioneer Day on the same date each year. 
  16. The individuals responsible for creating both the electric television set and the Frisbee both hail from Utah. 
  17. Promontory, Utah saw the completion of the U.S.’s first transcontinental railroad when the Central Pacific and Union Pacific met in 1869. Today, the site is famously known as Golden Spike National Historic Site. 
  18. Jell-O’s popularity in Utah can be attributed to its association with family gatherings, affordability, and appeal to children. 
  19. In 1824, Jim Bridger was the first Caucasian person to see the Great Salt Lake. He initially thought he had found the Pacific Ocean because it was so salty, but soon realized it was a giant salt lake.
  20. Utah couples marry at a younger age than in any other state in the country. The median age for a first marriage in Utah is 26.2 for the groom and 24.1 for the bride. The average for the rest of the United States is 29.1 for the groom and 27.1 for the bride.
  21. The Great Salt Lake is the largest of its kind in the Western world. Though the size of the lake keeps changing, based on the season, it is spread across about 1700 square miles. The water in the lake has nine times more salt than that found in oceans.
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  1. Rainbow Bridge (290 feet/88 meters tall and 270 feet/83 meters across), by Lake Powell, is the world’s largest natural bridge. It is considered sacred by Navajo culture.
  2. Utah is also home to six national forests (Uinta, Dixie, Fishlake, Wasatch-Cache, Ashley, and Manti-LaSal) and 43 state parks.
  3. On October 8, 1981, there was an attack at the University of Utah in which an explosive device was defused. The attack was later discovered to be by Theodore Kaczynski, dubbed “the Unabomber.”
  4. Utah has the highest consumption of Jell-O in the United States. In fact, Jell-O is Utah’s state snack.
  5. While presidential hopeful Mitt Romney was born in Detroit, Michigan, he calls Utah home. His new 5,900-square-foot home in Holliday will include high ceilings, a hot tub, a secret door/room, an exercise room, and more.
  6. A higher percentage of Utahans are married than in any other state in the United States. According to the 2012 American Community Survey, 57% of Utah’s women (15 years and older) are married, down from 69% in 1950.
  7. According to Webster’s, “Utahans” is the grammatically correct way to refer to residents of Utah; however, most people from Utah stubbornly refer to themselves as “Utahns.”
  8. The Utah War was a conflict between the US Government And The Mormon Settlers In The Utah Territory
  9. Utah Hosts The Sundance Film Festival Every Year. The Sundance Film Festival is a prominent annual event that draws international attention.
  10. Utah is home to the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. This 35-acre center for LDS (Mormon) missionaries can house 3,800 missionaries and it serves 10,000 meals a day.
  11. A 2012 Gallup poll found that Utah, overall, was the best state to live in. West Virginia, Mississippi, and Kentucky were in the bottom three.
  12. Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah all meet at four corners. This is the only place in the United States where four states come together.
  13. Utah’s state flower is the sego lily, and its state bird is the California gull. 
  14. Utah is fortunate enough to have five astounding national parks: Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Zion. 
  15. Fillmore, Utah, is named after President Millard Fillmore and was initially designated as the capital. Salt Lake City replaced it as the territorial capital in 1856. Additionally, Salt Lake City was referred to as Great Salt Lake City until 1868.
  16. In 2014, 1,039 people dressed as angels, wise men, and other religious figures broke the Guinness World Record for the largest live nativity scene. Also in attendance in the Provo, Utah, park event were a camel, a donkey, and some sheep.
  17. Salt Lake City hosted the opening ceremony for the Winter Olympics, 2002. 
  18. Utah was first acquired by the United States in the 1848 treaty after the Mexican War. 
  19. Ironically, the first Kentucky Fried Chicken was not opened in Kentucky, but rather in Salt Lake City in the cafe of a friend of Colonel Sanders. 
  20. The LDS Church shapes Utah’s culture by promoting strong nuclear family units and prioritizing family time. Strengthening familial relationships is a major principle of LDS doctrine, leading to increased volunteerism and active participation in civic activities. 
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  1. Utah’s divorce rate is slightly higher than the U.S. average and has been that way for decades. However, while Utahans are more likely than their national counterparts to divorce, they are also more likely to marry or remarry.
  2. Utah is home to the United States’ first department store, Zions Co-operative Mercantile Institution. Today it is known as ZCMI.
  3. Topaz was designated the state gem in 1969 and represents Utah’s rich mineral heritage. 
  4. One of the most unique places in Utah is the Bonneville Salt Flats, named after the ancient sea that covered the area. Stretching over 30,000 acres, the white salt is millions of years old. Thousands of tourists, filmmakers, and land speed racers make it famous throughout the world.
  5. Famous Utahans include David Archuleta, Butch Cassidy, Shannon Hale, Karl Malone, Donny and Marie Osmond, Robert Redford, Julianne and Derek Houghs, Roseanne Barr, Loretta Young, James Woods, Chrissy Teigen, Orson Scott Card, Terry Tempest Williams, and Steve Young.

Do you have even more interesting facts about Utah? Share them with us in the comments! 

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