No place offers its citizens and visitors a more compelling quality-of-life package than Utah does. Safe, affordable cities, towns and neighborhoods coexist with breathtaking scenery and economic dynamism.
- Utah combines excellent economic opportunity with a cost of living well below that of other strong economic locales.
- Utah is home to five national parks, seven national monuments, two national recreation areas and six national forests.
- Utah has 14 world-class ski resorts, 10 within a one-hour drive from Salt Lake International Airport.
Economic Vitality and Sound Governance
The most entrepreneurial state in the U.S. is also the best-governed and best-positioned for long-term economic recovery and sustainability. Among a host of accolades, the Beehive State garnered the top spot for “Expected Economic Recovery” and “Economic Outlook” from the American Legislative Exchange Council’s 2011 State Economic Competitive Index, while taking top honors on the Forbes list of “The Best Places for Business and Careers” for two consecutive years.
Utah’s exceptional economic performance is bolstered by a state government that is continually recognized for fiscal discipline and governing moxie. (See GOVERNMENT chapter in this book for more information.) In a time of persistent economic challenge, Utah continues to shine as a financially sound, stable and dynamic environment for innovation, growth and opportunity.
The Fine Art of Happiness
Utah consistently ranks high on many measures that indicate the overall well-being of its people. Utahns enjoy a high standard of living in safe, vibrant and affordable communities. In the national Gallup Healthways Well-Being Index, Utah is perennially among the top five states for the happiest populace. While Utah’s median household income ranks eighth nationally (U.S. Census Bureau 2008-2010), Utah communities are also exceptionally affordable from a cost-of-living standpoint. According to Kiplinger’s Best Value Cities 2011, money goes further in Salt Lake City than it does in other major metropolitan areas. The overall cost of living in Salt Lake City (95 percent of the national average) compares favorably with Las Vegas (101 percent), Denver (106), Portland (111), Minneapolis-St. Paul (112), Seattle (120 percent), San Diego (131) and San Francisco (161). Other wellness indicators emphasize Utah’s security, health, vitality and youthfulness.
Health, Peace and Safety
The state’s residents also enjoy exceptionally strong health. According to the United Health Foundation State Health rankings, Utah was the seventh healthiest state in the U.S. for 2011, with the lowest rates of cancer death, smoking and income disparity. (See Healthcare chapter in this volume for additional information.)
Utah and its communities are among the nation’s safest. According to the CQ Press Annual State Crime Ranking, four Utah cities rank among the 100 safest (population of 75,000 or more) in the country: Orem (11), St. George (19), Sandy (69) and West Jordan (82).
Youth Will Be Served
Utah’s vitality is reinforced by virtue of having the nation’s youngest population and one of the fastest growing. According to U.S. Census Bureau data for 2008, the state’s median age is 29.2, lowest in the nation, while the population growth rate of 1.9 percent in 2011 was the second fastest. Utah also has the second-lowest percentage of the population age 65 and over (9.0 percent). (See Population section in this book for more information.)
Utah’s incomparable attractions and experiences are reaching an increasing number of people throughout the world. In 2011, an estimated 20.2 million people visited the Beehive State, and tourism revenue rose to $6.525 billion, an increase of 4.7 percent.
A Four-Season Global Recreation Destination
In the winter, Utah’s 14 ski resorts provide some of the world’s finest skiing and snowboarding. In the 2011 issue of Ski magazine, voters and readers selected Utah’s Deer Valley resort as North America’s top overall ski resort for the fourth consecutive year. Park City Resort was named the “Number One Family Destination” by editors of Ski, as well as the sixth-ranked resort. Forbes named Snowbird and Alta the second-best U.S. ski resort. The Canyons, Solitude, Snow Basin and Brian Head are also perennial favorites.
Low humidity and low mountain temperatures result in the dry powder snow for which Utah has become world famous, earning the moniker “The Greatest Snow on Earth®.” The heavy snowfall (up to 600 inches annually at some resorts) often extends the Utah ski season from November into May. For more information, visit www.skiutah.com and www.visitutah.com.
There are also plentiful opportunities for snowshoeing, ice climbing and snowmobiling on 850 miles of groomed trails running through fascinating and spectacular topography that ranges from rugged mountains to redrock deserts.
Winter sports enthusiasts treasure the Olympic legacy of the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games. Eleven venues housed the Olympics’ athletic events, including a best-in-class skating rink and one of the world´s fastest luge tracks. All of the Olympic venues—in Salt Lake City, Ogden, Provo, Park City and West Valley City—are open to the public, enticing visitors to personally experience the magic of the Games.
Best Value Cities 2011 (overall cost of living)
City (National Average)
- Salt Lake City (95%)
- Las Vegas (101%)
- Denver (106%)
- Portland (111%)
- Minneapolis-St. Paul (112%)
- Seattle (120%)
- San Diego (131%)
- San Francisco (161%)
Source: Kiplinger’s Best Value Cities
Spring, Summer and Fall Recreation
Utah’s outdoors offer enough adventure to fill many lifetimes of summer recreation, including camping, hiking, mountain biking, ATV riding, rock climbing, fishing, hunting and countless other activities in some of the most varied and spectacular scenery on earth. The state is also a global destination for water sports enthusiasts seeking adventure in whitewater rafting, kayaking, boating, jet skiing and scuba diving. Road trip fans flock to the state’s spectacular backcountry, including Utah’s All-American Road Highway 12, one of the world’s most scenic highways by any standard.
Hiking, Biking and Off-Roading
Utah’s mountains and red rock deserts enchant mountain bikers and touring cyclists of every level of ability. Moab is the quintessential U.S. cycling hub, and most of Utah’s ski resorts offer bike rentals as well as numerous mountain trails. For more information, visit Bicycle Utah at www.cyclingutah.com. Utah trails lead hikers into one-of-a-kind experiences in environments of endless variety. Many trails offer exotic experiences in close proximity to the state’s population centers; others promise remote wilderness far off the beaten path. For more information about hiking in Utah, visit www.visitutah.com. Utah offroad trails, including the Utah section of the Great American Trail, provide quick and easy access to walking, biking, hiking, horseback or ATV riding in spectacular settings. For more information, visit www.visitutah.com.
Professional Sports Teams
- Ogden Raptors—Minor League Baseball, A Affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers
- Orem Owlz—Minor League Baseball, A Affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
- Real Salt Lake—Professional Soccer, Major League Soccer
- Salt Lake Bees—Minor League Baseball, AAA Affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
- Utah Blaze—Arena Football, Arena Football League
- Utah Blitzz—Professional Soccer, Professional Soccer League
- Utah Grizzlies—Professional Hockey, East Coast Hockey League
- Utah Jazz—Professional Basketball, National Basketball Association
- Utah Salt Ratz—Professional Soccer, Men’s Premier Soccer League
- Utah Snowbears—Professional Basketball, American Basketball Association
- Utah Spiders—Professional Soccer, Women’s Premier Soccer League
National Parks, Monuments and Recreation Areas
Southern Utah contains the greatest concentration of national parks in the United States. The state’s five national parks—Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef and Zion—are recognized as among the most spectacular and beloved national parks by visitors in the United States and from around the globe. In addition, Utah’s seven national monuments, two national recreation areas, one national historic site, and many state parks and recreation areas provide outdoor enthusiasts with unique and varied opportunities. The state’s national parks attracted 6.3 million visitors in 2011, including 2,825,505 for Zions National Park, while Utah’s 43 state parks attracted more than 4.8 million visitors. For more information, contact the Utah Office of Tourism (801) 538-1900 or visit www.visitutah.com.
Arts and Culture
Utah offers a wealth of artistic and cultural resources. The Utah Arts Council, founded in 1899, represents almost 200 theatres, more than 100 dance and approximately 500 music organizations, including the renowned Utah Symphony, Utah Opera, Ballet West and the Festival Opera Company. Utah is also home to a number of distinguished festivals and other cultural organizations and events throughout the state, including the pioneering Sundance Film Festival, the Tony Award winning Utah Shakespearean Festival and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. In addition, a major 2011 survey conducted by the National Tour Association, Salt Lake City was named the top faith-based U.S. tourist destination, tied with Israel for first in the world. For more information about Utah’s cultural offerings, visit www.nowplayingutah.com or www.visitutah.com.
Attractions Around the State
1. Ballet West
Ballet West is one of America’s leading ballet companies.
2. Natural History Museum
Take advantage of the beautiful new Natural History Museum of Utah. With fascinating artifacts, dinosaurs and science displays and activities, the museum will please guests of all ages.
3. Timpanogos Cave National Monument
High in the Wasatch Mountains, the Timpanogos cave system consists of three spectacularly decorated caverns. Enjoy a hike with great views of American Fork Canyon on the way to the cave entrance.
4. Temple Square
Check out the capital’s most iconic building—the Salt Lake Temple. Guests to Temple Square can tour the surrounding buildings and gardens, as well as learn a bit about Utah history at the Beehive House.
5. Clark Planetarium
Enjoy night sky tours, 3D movies or light shows set to music in the theaters. The planetarium also has many free science and space exhibits.
6. Antelope Island
Antelope Island is the largest island in the Great Salt Lake, and provides visitors with a variety of activities. The island is open to camping, and rails are available for hiking, biking and horseback riding. The island also houses a variety of wildlife, including the namesake antelope.
7. Arches National Park
Go camping and hiking among more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches. The 119 square-mile park’s major attractions are available via a 48-mile paved road, while other arches are accessible via hiking trails.
8. Sports Games
Utah is home to many great sports teams. Take the whole group to a game or show of one of the pro, semi-pro or university teams in the area. The most well-known teams are the Utah Jazz, Real Salt Lake and the Salt Lake Bees.
9. Miller Motorsports Park
Miller Motorsports Park is a state-of-the-art road racing facility for automobiles, motorcycles and karts. The park hosts many racing events and is home to a performance driving and motorcycle school.
10. Utah’s Hogle Zoo
The zoo covers 42 acres and is home to nearly 900 animals. Visit the rare cats of Asian Highlands or check out the Elephant Encounter.
Utah Olympic Oval
5662 South 4800 West (Cougar Lane)
Salt Lake Ice Center/EnergySolutions Arena
301 W. South Temple
Salt Lake City, Utah
Figure Skating, Short Track Skating
3200 S. Decker Lake Dr.
West Valley City, Utah
The Peaks Ice Arena
100 No. Seven Peaks Blvd.
Ice Sheet at Ogden
4390 Harrison Blvd.
Park City Mountain Resort
1310 Lowell Avenue
Park City, Utah
Giant Slalom, Snowboarding Parallel and Halfpipe
Deer Valley Mountain Resort
2250 Deer Valley Drive
Park City, Utah
Slalom, Freestyle Aerials and Freestyle Moguls
Utah Olympic Park
Olympic Parkway and Highway 224
at Kimball Junction
Bobsleigh, Luge, Skeleton, Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined
Soldier Hollow (Wasatch State Park)
2002 Soldier Hollow Drive near Midway
Biathlon, Cross-Country Skiing
Snowbasin Ski Resort
Highway 167 (Trapper’s Loop)
Downhill, Super G, Combined Downhill/Slalom
Rice Eccles Olympic Stadium
University of Utah Campus
Salt Lake City
Opening and Closing Ceremonies, Home of Olympic Cauldron
University of Utah Campus
Salt Lake City