Area Codes -- The area code is 801 in the Wasatch Valley, which includes Salt Lake City, Provo, and Ogden. Most of the rest of the state is in the 435 area code.
Automobile Organizations -- Motor clubs will supply maps, suggested routes, guidebooks, accident and bail-bond insurance, and emergency road service. The American Automobile Association (AAA) is the major auto club in the United States. If you belong to a motor club in your home country, inquire about AAA reciprocity before you leave. You may be able to join AAA even if you're not a member of a reciprocal club; to inquire, call AAA (tel. 800/222-4357; www.aaa.com). AAA has a nationwide emergency road service telephone number (tel. 800/AAA-HELP ).
Business Hours -- Banks are usually open Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm, often until 6pm on Friday; some have hours on Saturday. Small stores are usually open Monday through Saturday, with some also open on Sunday afternoon. Most department stores, discount stores, and supermarkets are open daily until 9pm. Some supermarkets are open 24 hours a day.
Drinking Laws -- Utah normalized its liquor laws in 2009; memberships are no longer required, and private clubs are a thing of the past. There are still two strengths of beer, 3.2% and 6%. You can buy 3.2% beer (read on if you're not sure what that means) and malt coolers in supermarkets and convenience stores 7 days a week; stronger beer, wine, and hard liquor are available only at state-owned liquor stores and package agencies, which are closed Sundays and state holidays. Some establishments are licensed as taverns and can sell 3.2% beer only.
The legal age for purchase and consumption of alcoholic beverages is 21; proof of age is required and often requested at bars, nightclubs, and restaurants, so it's always a good idea to bring along an ID when you go out.
Do not carry open containers of alcohol in your car or any public area that isn't zoned for alcohol consumption. The police can fine you on the spot. Don't even think about driving while intoxicated.
Electricity -- Like Canada, the United States uses 110-120 volts AC (60 cycles), compared to 220-240 volts AC (50 cycles) in most of Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. Downward converters that change 220-240 volts to 110-120 volts are difficult to find in the United States, so bring one with you.
Embassies & Consulates -- All embassies are located in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C. Some consulates are located in major U.S. cities, and most nations have a mission to the United Nations in New York City. If your country isn't listed below, call for directory information in Washington, D.C. (tel. 202/555-1212) or check www.embassy.org/embassies.
The embassy of Australia is at 1601 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20036 (tel. 202/797-3000; usa.embassy.gov/au).
The embassy of Canada is at 501 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20001 (tel. 202/682-1740; www.canadianembassy.org). Other Canadian consulates are in Buffalo (New York), Detroit, Los Angeles, New York, and Seattle.
The embassy of Ireland is at 2234 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202/462-3939; www.irelandemb.org). Irish consulates are in Boston, Chicago, New York, San Francisco, and other cities.
The embassy of New Zealand is at 37 Observatory Circle NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202/328-4800; www.nzembassy.com). New Zealand consulates are in Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, and Seattle.
The embassy of the United Kingdom is at 3100 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202/588-7800; www.britainusa.com). Other British consulates are in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Seattle.
Emergencies -- Call tel. 911.
Gasoline (Petrol) -- A gallon of unleaded gasoline cost between $2.50 and $3 at press time. Taxes are already included in the printed price. One U.S. gallon equals 3.8 liters or .85 imperial gallons.
Holidays -- Banks, government offices, post offices, and many stores, restaurants, and museums are closed on the following legal national holidays: January 1 (New Year's Day), the third Monday in January (Martin Luther King, Jr., Day), the third Monday in February (Presidents' Day), the last Monday in May (Memorial Day), July 4 (Independence Day), the first Monday in September (Labor Day), the second Monday in October (Columbus Day), November 11 (Veterans Day/Armistice Day), the fourth Thursday in November (Thanksgiving Day), and December 25 (Christmas). The Tuesday after the first Monday in November is Election Day, a federal government holiday in presidential-election years (held every 4 years, and next in 2012).
Internet Access -- In Salt Lake City, Provo, Ogden, and Utah's major resorts, Wi-Fi is commonplace. It's generally not difficult to access the Internet in any urban area, but may be a little harder to find in some of the state's less populated areas.
Legal Aid -- If you are "pulled over" for a minor infraction (such as speeding), never attempt to pay the fine directly to a police officer; this could be construed as attempted bribery, a much more serious crime. Pay fines by mail, or directly into the hands of the clerk of the court. If accused of a more serious offense, say and do nothing before consulting a lawyer. Here the burden is on the state to prove a person's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and everyone has the right to remain silent, whether he or she is suspected of a crime or actually arrested. Once arrested, a person can make one telephone call to a party of his or her choice. International visitors should call your embassy or consulate.
Mail -- At press time, domestic postage rates were 28¢ for a postcard and 44¢ for a letter. For international mail, a first-class letter of up to 1 ounce costs 98¢ (75¢ to Canada and 79¢ to Mexico); a first-class postcard costs the same as a letter. For more information, go to www.usps.com.
If you aren't sure what your address will be in the United States, mail can be sent to you, in your name, c/o General Delivery at the main post office of the city or region where you expect to be. (Call tel. 800/275-8777 for information on the nearest post office.) The addressee must pick up mail in person and must produce proof of identity (driver's license, passport, and so on). Most post offices will hold your mail for up to 1 month, and are open Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm, and Saturday from 9am to 3pm.
Always include zip codes when mailing items in the U.S. If you don't know your zip code, visit www.usps.com/zip4.
Newspapers & Magazines -- The state's two largest dailies, both published in Salt Lake City, are the Salt Lake City Tribune (www.sltrib.com) and the Deseret Morning News (www.desnews.com). The Salt Lake City Weekly (www.slweekly.com) is the alternative weekly. Several other communities have daily newspapers, and many smaller towns publish weeklies. About a dozen Utah newspapers can be found online, with links from the Internet Public Library site, www.ipl.org. There are a few local magazines, Salt Lake Magazine (www.saltlakemagazine.com) among them.
Police -- Call tel. 911 for emergency police help.
Smoking -- The Utah Indoor Clean Air Act prohibits smoking in any public building or office and in all enclosed places of public access. This includes restaurants but not private clubs, lounges, or taverns.
Taxes -- A combination of state and local sales taxes, from 6% to 8.5%, is added to your bill in all areas of Utah except Indian reservations. Local lodging taxes usually add an additional 3% to 6%. The United States has no value-added tax (VAT) or other indirect tax at the national level. Every state, county, and city may levy its own local tax on all purchases, including hotel and restaurant checks and airline tickets. These taxes will not appear on price tags.
Time -- Utah is in the Mountain Standard Time Zone. The continental United States is divided into four time zones: Eastern Standard Time (EST), Central Standard Time (CST), Mountain Standard Time (MST), and Pacific Standard Time (PST). Alaska and Hawaii have their own zones. For example, when it's 9am in Los Angeles (PST), it's 7am in Honolulu (HST), 10am in Denver (MST), 11am in Chicago (CST), noon in New York City (EST), 5pm in London (GMT), and 2am the next day in Sydney.
Daylight saving time is in effect from 1am on the second Sunday in March to 1am on the first Sunday in November, except in Arizona, Hawaii, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. Daylight saving time moves the clock 1 hour ahead of standard time.
Tipping -- In hotels, tip bellhops at least $1 per bag ($2-$3 if you have a lot of luggage) and tip the chamber staff $1 to $2 per day (more if you've left a disaster area for him or her to clean up). Tip the doorman or concierge only if he or she has provided you with some specific service (for example, calling a cab for you or obtaining difficult-to-get theater tickets). Tip the valet-parking attendant $1 each time you get your car.
In restaurants, bars, and nightclubs, tip service staff and bartenders 15% to 20% of the check, tip checkroom attendants $1 per garment, and tip valet-parking attendants $1 per vehicle.
As for other service personnel, tip cabdrivers 15% of the fare; tip skycaps at airports at least $1 per bag ($2-$3 if you have a lot of luggage); and tip hairdressers and barbers 15% to 20%.
Toilets -- You won't find public toilets or "restrooms" on the streets in most U.S. cities, but they can be found in hotel lobbies, bars, restaurants, museums, department stores, railway and bus stations, and service stations. Large hotels and fast-food restaurants are often the best bet for clean facilities. Restaurants and bars in resorts or heavily visited areas may reserve their restrooms for patrons.
Visitor Information -- For information on the state as a whole, as well as an official state map, contact the Utah Office of Tourism, 300 N. State St., Salt Lake City, UT 84114 (tel. 800/200-1160 or 801/538-1030; www.utah.com).
For information on Utah's national forests, contact the U.S. Forest Service Intermountain Region, 324 25th St., Ogden, UT 84401 (tel. 801/625-5306; www.fs.fed.us/r4). The best source for topographic and geological maps, as well as guidebooks and other outdoor recreation information, is the Natural Resources Map & Bookstore, 1594 W. North Temple (P.O. Box 146100), Salt Lake City, UT 84116-6100 (tel. 888/882-4627 or 801/537-3320; www.mapstore.state.ut.us). The Utah State Office of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is at 440 W. 200 South, Ste. 500, Salt Lake City, UT 84145 (tel. 801/539-4001; www.ut.blm.gov). For information on Utah's state parks, contact Utah State Parks, 1594 W. North Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84114 (tel. 800/322-3770 or 801/538-7220 for campground reservations; www.stateparks.utah.gov). You can find additional resources for planning your outdoor adventures in chapter 5.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.