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Utah Geography & Climate
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An early explorer described the land that became Utah as "a world of grandeur." It is, indeed, a place of dramatic and colorful contrasts -- from snow-capped mountains to red rock canyons -- located at the center of the eight-state Mountain region in the western United States.
Perhaps the state's most distinctive geographic feature is Great Salt Lake, the second saltiest body of water in the world and the largest natural lake west of the Mississippi River. To its west lies the desolate Great Salt Lake Desert, a stark contrast to the lush agricultural valleys of Northeast Utah.
Utah's two major rivers are the Green River, which flows south into the famous Colorado River, which then flows southwest toward the Grand Canyon.
With a population of 2,233,169 residents in 2000, Utah ranks 34th among the 50 states, an increase of 29.6 percent over its 1990 population of 1,727,784 residents. It is the 11th largest state in size with an area of 84,916 square miles (21,993,143 ha).
About 75 percent of the population lives in two metropolitan areas along the Interstate 15 corridor -- Salt Lake City-Ogden and Provo-Orem. Salt Lake City is the largest city in Utah with 181,743 residents and a county-wide population of 898,387.
Mountains occupy about a third of the land in Utah, while another third is desert. The highest point in the state is Kings Peak at 13,528 feet ( 4,123 m) in the Wasatch Mountains east of Salt Lake City. The lowest elevation is Beaverdam Creek at 2,000 feet ( 609 m) near the southwest corner of the state.
The southwest corner of Utah is part of a unique geographic puzzle created by map makers -- the Four Corners, where the states of Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico share a common intersection of their borders. This is the only place in the U.S. where four states connect at the same point.
Average high temperatures in July are in the low 90s (32 c) in the Salt Lake City region and the mid-90s (35 c) in Southwest Utah, and reach into the low 100s (37 c), with an average of five days of rain for the month. In January, lows hover in the upper teens with 10 days of snow or rain in the Salt Lake City region, and in the low teens with 8 days of snow or rain in the southwest desert.
Although Utah is an arid state, the popular ski slopes near Salt Lake City receive up to 400 inches (1,106 cm) of snow each winter.
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