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Holiday Guides for North America - United States

Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City is at the north end of the Salt Lake Valley and is surrounded by the huge Wasatch Mountains, on the south shore of the vast Great Salt Lake, an inland sea.

With the rugged mountains as a backdrop and the vast Great Salt Lake laid out in front, Salt Lake City is a dramatic sight. It has witnessed rapid growth in recent years and now has a small skyline, but still retains the charm of a much smaller city, with friendly, polite inhabitants.

History And Culture

Settled by Native Americans thousands of years ago, Salt Lake City was founded in 1847 by a group of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) led by religious prophet Brigham Young and is now the headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Its wealth built on mining and the railroads, Salt Lake City is also a tourist town and has become an increasingly important commercial hub for the Rocky Mountains.

Salt Lake City has a very mixed population, with large numbers of refugees settled in the city under various government programmes and the founding Mormons now constitute less than half the population. The variety of cultures present in the city feed into its districts giving it an unexpectedly cosmopolitan air.

Recommended Sights And Attractions

With its unique location between an inland sea and a snow-capped range of 3,330m mountains, Salt Lake City naturally attracts outgoing travellers looking for an adrenaline-fuelled holiday.

Winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding are particularly prevalent in the Wasatch Mountains to the east, while there are six ski resorts within 50 miles of the city.

The Bonneville Salt Flats west of the city are a strange sight, an alien landscape stretching across the plains.

When the weather changes in the summer, holidaymakers flock to the region to experience the great opportunities for hiking, camping, rock climbing and mountain biking.

The downtown area of the city is a mixture of old and new architecture, with glass skyscrapers next to 19th century houses and civic buildings.

Beehive House in Temple Square, constructed in 1854, was Brigham Young's home and is now a museum, with many of the original furnishings and evidence of Young's polygamous life. The Salt Lake Temple, the historic Tabernacle, the LDS Conference Center and the LDS Genealogical Library all draw hoards of Mormon visitors every year.

Among the best non-religious offerings in Salt Lake City are the impressive Salt Lake City Public Library, the Pioneer Memorial Museum, the Utah State Capitol, and the Utah Museum of Natural History and Utah Museum of Fine Arts, both housed at the University of Utah.

For families, the Clarke Planetarium, the Children's Museum of Utah and the This Is the Place Heritage Park, which recreates the pioneer era, are entertaining. A visit to Liberty Park – which contains a picturesque lake and an array of birds – is also a good choice for those with children to entertain and those just wanting some peace and quiet.

Weather In Salt Lake City

Winters can be oppressively cold, with temperatures falling as low as -18C and average temperatures generally standing at around -5C.

However, the tables are turned during June, July and August and the mercury can regularly hit 30C, while up to eight days a year on average will top 35C.

Destination Checklist For Salt Lake City

  • Salt Lake City has a population of around 200,000 with another million in the wider metropolitan area.
  • The city is seven hours behind GMT/UTC time.
  • The official currency is the US Dollar.
  • English is the official language spoken.
  • The city's international dialling code is +1.