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Salt Lake City


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Welcome to Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City

Situated in a basin between the rugged, snow-covered Wasatch mountain range to the east and the Great Salt Lake to the west, Salt Lake City's scenic backdrop frames a pleasantly spacious and hassle-free city that is surprisingly sensible and down-to-earth for a growing state capital.

The vast salty wasteland that ultimately became one of America's prize cities was originally picked out by a band of Mormon pioneers who were searching for a quiet spot where they could follow their faith undisturbed by the world. Led by Brigham Young, leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the followers surveyed the desolate-looking valley of the Great Salt Lake basin and declared it to be the peaceful haven they had been seeking for the past five months. 'This Is The Place' Heritage Park commemorates the site where they ended their trek, named after the famous words uttered by Young in 1847. To this day the city is dominated by the Mormon influence, with more than 40 percent of the population belonging to the Latter-Day Saints. Visitors come to listen to the singing of the exceptional Mormon Tabernacle Choir and to see the fascinating Temple Square that is the spiritual headquarters of the Mormon faith and the heart of the city.

Despite being steeped in religious tradition, Salt Lake City is rapidly emerging as one of the foremost business locations in the country, attracting large numbers of high-technology firms and software corporations, and a favoured venue for major corporate and professional conferences and conventions. The city is also growing in reputation as an outdoor recreation centre, enhanced by its international recognition as the excellent host of the 2002 Winter Olympics. Throngs of outdoor enthusiasts are drawn to the nearby mountains where world-class skiing is offered at top resorts, as well as miles of stunning mountain trails for hiking, biking and rock climbing. Salt Lake City is also within a day's drive of numerous national and state parks, rivers, forests and canyons, offering endless opportunities for outdoor sports and recreation.

Information & Facts


Salt Lake City enjoys four distinct seasons, but temperatures are never too extreme to be uncomfortable. Summers are warm, dry and sunny with low humidity. Fall is pleasantly mild and cool. Winter daytime temperatures are seldom below freezing, and powdery snow sprinkles the surrounding mountains. Winter nights, though, can be very cold. Skiing can continue well into spring, although in the valley conditions are milder.

Getting Around

The Utah Transit Authority provides extensive public transport coverage in Salt Lake City by means of a light rail system called TRAX, and an excellent bus service. One-day passes are available for use on both TRAX and the city buses, and there is an extensive fare-free area for both forms of transport downtown around Temple Square. During the winter a ski bus connects the city to nearby ski resorts. There is no public transport service on New Year's Day, Thanksgiving or Christmas. Metered taxis are freely available throughout the city and can be hailed on the street or ordered by telephone. Self-driving in Salt Lake City is fairly straightforward as the city is designed on a grid system with wide streets and a freeway system connecting the suburbs and surrounding areas.

English is the most common language but Spanish is often spoken in south-western states.

The US Dollar (USD) is the unit of currency and is divided into 100 cents. Only major banks exchange foreign currency. ATMs are widespread and credit cards and travellers cheques are widely accepted. Travellers cheques should be taken in US Dollars to avoid hassles. Banking hours are Monday to Friday 9am to 3pm.

The Dinosaur National Monument straddles the border between Utah and Colorado. The reserve was created to preserve the layers of rock in which Jurassic Era dinosaur skeletons and bones were found embedded at a site in the Utah section of the Monument area. In 1909 an exposed sediment riverbed was discovered to contain layers of prehistoric plant and animal fossils. A quarry went into operation on the site, where full dinosaur skeletons as well as fossilised remains of sea creatures up to three times older than dinosaurs were excavated. A visitor centre has been built over the quarry to protect the fossils, and forming one of the walls is the exposed rock layer containing over 2,000 dinosaur bones that has been enclosed as a permanent exhibit. (This is currently closed, but visitors can see fossils by hiking half a mile (1km) from the temporary visitor's centre). Although the quarry is often the main reason for visiting the Dinosaur National Monument, the area also contains acres of some of the most beautifully rugged mountain scenery in the north, with colourful sandstone cliffs, deep river canyons and forests, along with a number of scenic hiking trails, unique wildlife and thrilling whitewater rafting on two of the Colorado River's fast-flowing tributaries.

The huge shallow lake is the second saltiest body of water in the world after the Dead Sea and is several times saltier than the ocean and rich in minerals. Floating weightlessly in the water of the Salt Lake is one of the main attractions, and although this natural wonder is worth seeing, the facilities are somewhat limited. The Great Salt Lake State Marina has a beach at one end and boat launching ramps, but there are no boat rentals available. Great Salt Lake has been declared a World Heritage Bird Sanctuary due to the numbers of migrating birds that are attracted to the brine flies and brine shrimp that survive in the saline waters. Antelope Island is the largest of the lake's ten islands and can be reached either by boat or by a causeway, offering excellent picnicking, hiking and camping opportunities. The island also boasts a herd of about 600 American Bison, introduced in 1893, and other interesting animals such as coyotes, bobcats, deer and a small herd of elk. Early mornings along the shore of this vast expanse of water can be extremely beautiful.

Devoted to objects connected with historical events, the Pioneer Memorial Museum is crammed with photographs, furniture, textiles, toys and a doll collection from the daily lives of the pioneers that have been painstakingly collected by the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers. All four storeys are full of relics of Utah's history, including personal effects of Mormon leader Brigham Young. A short film is shown every half hour.

The four-hectare (10-acre) Temple Square complex includes the Mormon Temple, the Tabernacle and the Assembly Hall. It is at the heart of Salt Lake City, in location and spiritual importance, and the symbolic epicentre of the Mormon religion or Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints. Temple Square is the city's biggest attraction, particularly the majestic six-spired Temple, topped by a golden statue of the Angel Moroni, which forms a striking silhouette on the city's skyline. The Temple was completed in 1893 after 40 years of heavy labour and the expenditure of millions of dollars. It is a holy place closed to the non-Mormon public. Confirmed believers may enter the Temple, but only for the most sacred of religious ceremonies, and non-Mormons can learn about temple activities at the visitor centres. The oval shape of the Tabernacle, topped by an impressive domed roof, is home to the world-famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir whose weekly rehearsals and organ recitals are open to all free of charge, and illustrate the outstanding acoustic properties of the Tabernacle building. The Gothic-style Assembly Hall, constructed from granite left over from the Temple, is the venue for concerts and lectures. The two visitor centres, North and South, contain religious murals and paintings, exhibits and presentations about the Mormon faith, a film depicting the arrival of the first Mormon pioneers in Salt Lake City, and photographs of the Temple interior.

Situated on eight acres on land in Liberty Park, the Tracy Aviary is the oldest bird sanctuary in the United States, and a wonderful 'urban oasis' among the hustle and bustle of downtown Salt Lake City. Home to over 400 well cared-for birds, from 135 species - including bald eagles, flamingos and hawks - the aviary is popular with visitors of all ages, bird-lovers or not. With daily shows - including flight demonstrations given by professional handlers, pelican feeding, and a special showcase featuring the most beautiful, iridescent little birds of the Amazon basin - it is not hard to see why the Tracy Aviary is consistently voted one of Salt Lake City's premier tourist attractions.

Modelled after the national Capitol building in Washington DC, the Utah State Capitol sits on a hill above the city, a prominent sight surrounded by acres of beautifully landscaped gardens. Memory Grove, to the east of the building, contains statues honouring Utah veterans, and the grounds are a favourite destination for joggers and walkers. The impressive granite structure of the Capitol building is crowned by a copper dome and fronted by columns, representing one of the greatest examples of the Renaissance Revival style in the nation. A colossal chandelier illuminates the interior walls that are covered with murals illustrating Utah's history. Several busts proclaim the state's prominent figures, including Brigham Young, leader of the Mormon pioneers who founded Salt Lake City. Marble staircases lead to the third floor where the Senate, House of Representatives, and the Supreme Court of Utah are based. The state legislature meets in January and February and visitors are welcome to sit in the galleries overlooking their chamber. Visitors can choose to wander through the building alone or join a guided tour.

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