The capital of Utah is Salt Lake City. The 2010 census listed 2,763,885 residents in the state.
Archeologists surmise that people have lived in many parts of Utah since the last Ice Age was drawing to a close about 11,000 years ago. It is believed that the climate and weather patterns in Utah during this period were much different than those of today. Instead of the hot, arid terrain that covers most of the state today, the remains of prehistoric Lake Bonneville dominated much of the landscape. It is believed that PaleoIndians lived in a land of cool forests, lakes and marshlands. Animals were abundant and plant life was diverse. People lived as hunter-gathers.
Over time, the climate in Utah became increasingly warm and dry. Lake Bonneville shrank in size, and the flora and fauna adapted to the new conditions. So did the people. Archeologists assign the rather arbitrary date of 7,500-6,500 B.C. to mark the change. In reality, it was a very gradual change, but without question, over time, the culture altered dramatically as humans adapted to their new environment. Archeologists refer to the people living during this period as being of the Archaic Culture. Their lifestyle was still one of hunting animals and gathering edible plants, but they were now doing it in much different climatic conditions. The plants and animals that were available to them were different as well.
Much is made of the importance of one specific archeological site in western Utah - Danger Cave. Archeologists, using carbon dating, have concluded that artifacts found in the cave date back more than 11,000 years. Based on these findings, they have described what they refer to as the Desert Culture. These people lived a very rudimentary life. Because of the scarcity of resources in the desert, mobility and dispersion were paramount considerations. The nuclear family was usually the largest concentration of people in any one place at any one time and they usually did not remain in any one locale for any extensive period of time. Although the dog travois was used to help transport items, weight was an important consideration in the lives of these people. Possessions were few and basic. They used baskets but not pottery. Heavy items were cached. Shelter was minimalist in the extreme.
About 1300 years ago the Fremont Culture emerged in Utah. It was characterized by some growing of crops and a somewhat sedentary existence. The Fremont People lived in a far more complex society than their neighbors in the desert. The development of rudimentary agriculture permitted the formation of permanent settlements, the accumulation of food supplies, and the development of more complex possessions. There are numerous remnants of the Fremont Culture spread throughout Utah. Most are characterized by extensive amounts of rock art that is thought to have been created over a relatively long period of time by successive generations of people. It is important to note that it is not known whether all of these people spoke the same language or regarded themselves to be one people. Some archeologists say yes, some say no, but none know for sure.
About 700 years ago, the Fremont People disappeared for reasons as yet unclear. I do not claim to have any new information regarding their disappearance, but I do have a theory that I present here not so much for the edification of my readers, but rather to solicit comment from those that are more knowledgable than myself. In yesteryear, I remember reading about the mysterious disappearance of the Anasazi Culture. Today, we are encouraged to avoid using the word Anasazi. Instead, we now refer to that culture as being the Ancestral Pueblo Culture. The ancestors of the Hopi, Zuni, etc. Why couldn't the Fremont either be the ancestors of one or another of the Shoshone, Ute, Paiute tribes or perhaps have integrated into them through intermarriage as the newcomers moved into the area?
Before Europeans arrived in Utah, five major groups of people lived in the state - Utes, Paiutes, Goshutes, Shoshone and Navajo. The first four may be distant relatives in that they all speak languages that the linguists classify as being part of the Numic Language Family. The Navajo language, however, belongs to the Athapaskan Language Family. Europeans began traveling through Utah in the eighteenth century. The first in recorded history was Juan Maria Antonio Rivera in 1765. Rivera was followed by Franciscan Fathers Silvestre Velez de Escalante and Francisco Atanasio Dominguez in 1776. During the early years of the nineteenth century, a succession of fur trappers worked their way along Utah's streams and rivers in search of beaver. One of these, Jim Bridger, was, in 1824, the first Anglo-European to record seeing the Great Salt Lake. In the early 1840s, Anglo-European immigrants began crossing Utah on their way to California.
John Charles Fremont explored Utah in 1844. After reading Fremont's report of his explorations, Brigham Young determined that the Morman People should relocate to Utah. On July 24, 1847, Brigham Young arrived in Salt Lake Valley at the head of the first large group of Morman settlers. At the time, the area was still claimed by Mexico. Following the end of the Mexican War in 1848, Utah was absorbed into the United States as the Utah Territory. In 1849-1850, on instructions from Young, Parley P. Pratt explored southern Utah in search of places suitable for Mormans to settle. During the later half of the century other explorers spread out through Utah and Mormans settled virtually all habitable locations across the entire state. Utah achieved statehood on January 4, 1896.
Utah's history is fascinating and the landscape is magnificent. It is an outdoor enthusiast's paradise worthy of thorough exploration. The following pages list some of the places that you should consider adding to your travel wish list.