advertisement

Utah is home to unfathomably beautiful natural features like Canyonlands and Zion national parks, but it's also a showcase of man-made wonders. Salt Lake City has a number of architectural highlights, including the city's centerpiece, the Mormon Temple, and the striking Grand America Hotel. You can see this mix of natural and man-made at Utah's terrific ski resorts and jewel-like reservoirs -- Lake Powell is one of the most-visited bodies of water in the country; Jordanelle Reservoir is a lesser-known gem -- and woven into the state's rich and complicated history, a past populated by Utes, Mormon pioneers, rough-and-tumble mountain men, and many others. In recent years, the state has boomed, and more and more people are seeing that Utah offers some of the top attractions in the American West.

Cities

Utah's largest cities cluster together on the banks of the Great Salt Lake, forming the Wasatch Front. Salt Lake City marks the state's capitol and the centerpiece of Mormon history, religion and culture in Utah. Just to the north, Ogden leads the way to the region's outdoor pursuits, entertaining thousands of skiers, snowboarders and avid mountain bikers. Provo, just to the south of Salt Lake City, offers the museums, cultural events and spectator sports of Brigham Young University.

Countryside

Crystalline salt formations glisten in Utah's briny northwestern oasis, the Great Salt Lake. The Wasatch Mountains entice thousands of ski and snowboard lovers to their snowy peaks for some of the nation's finest, driest powder. Head south and the landscape becomes more barren and fantastical, embellished with rainbow-tinted gorges, red and orange rock pinnacles and sandstone natural bridges, many preserved within national parks.

Eating and Drinking

Look for upscale dining in Utah's capital, Salt Lake City. Platters of fresh seafood, authentic Indian curries and south-of-the-border grills are equally at home on the city's menus. Local game finds its way to the ski buffs in Park City. Steaks and chops dominate restaurant menus in St. George, the gateway city to several national parks. Want a beer with dinner? You may be asked to pay a few bucks for a "club membership" in this conservative Mormon state.

National Parks

Names such as "The Island in the Sky," "The Maze" and "The Needles" suggest the remarkable sandstone formations in Canyonlands National Park. Hike through these otherworldly scenes before moving on to Arches National Park, where more than 2,000 orange-hued sandstone bridges soar over the desert. In northeastern Utah, at Dinosaur National Monument, 1,500 dinosaur bones are embedded and on display in an excavated mountainside. Zion National Park draws visitors to its narrow slot canyon called the Narrows.