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  • Salt Lake City

    Salt Lake City travel guide

    Overview

    Situated in a basin between the snow-covered Wasatch mountain range to the east and the Great Salt Lake to the west is Salt Lake City, the capital of Utah. Its scenic backdrop frames a pleasantly spacious and laidback city that is surprisingly 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.

    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 Mormon influence, with more than 40 percent of the population belonging to its church. 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-end 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. 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 and canyons, offering endless opportunities for outdoor recreation.

    Temple Square

    The Temple Square is the heart of Salt Lake City and the symbolic epicentre of the Mormon religion. Visitors marvel at its majestic six spires, topped by a golden statue of the Angel Moroni forming a striking silhouette against the skyline. Confirmed may enter but only for the most sacred of ceremonies, while non-believers can check out visitor centres containing religious murals, paintings and exhibits on the first Mormon pioneers. The Tabernacle houses the famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir, whose rehearsals are open to the public for free, while the Gothic-style Assembly Hall is a venue for concerts and lectures.

    Tabernacle on Temple Square Tabernacle on Temple Square Leon7
    Utah State Capitol

    Modelled after the national capitol building in Washington D.C., the Utah State Capitol sits on a hill above the city surrounded by acres of landscaped gardens. Memory Grove to the east of the building contains statues honouring Utah veterans and the grounds are a favourite destination of joggers and walkers. The impressive granite structure of the Capitol is crowned by a copper dome and fronted by columns, representing one of the nation's greatest examples of Renaissance Revival architecture. A colossal chandelier illuminates interior walls covered with murals illustrating Utah's history while several busts proclaim the state's prominent figures, including the leader of the Mormon pioneers who founded Salt Lake City, Brigham Young.

    Utah State Capitol Utah State Capitol Andrew Smith
    Pioneer Memorial Museum

    The Pioneer Memorial Museum is crammed with artefacts from frontier life, its four storeys filled with the history of Utah. The relics are wide ranging, from doll old guns, doll collections and horse coaches to medical tools, a 1901 fire engine and the personal effects of Mormom leader Brigham Young. Many of the objects come with stories about the original owners with museum attendants happy to enlighten curious visitors. The museum collection is said to be the largest collection in the world focused on one subject. A short film is shown every half hour while residents of Utah are also encouraged to come to the museum so as to research their family's past.

    Pioneer Memorial Museum Pioneer Memorial Museum Tracie Hall
    Tracy Aviary

    Founded in 1938 and one of the city's premier attractions, the Tracy Aviary is the oldest bird sanctuary in the United States. The space is a wonderful urban oasis, home to a huge variety of birds from across the planet. Residents range from kea parrots, flamingos and falcons to hornbills, macaws and condors, while shows include flight demonstrations, pelican feedings and even a special showcase of iridescent little birds from the Amazon. Visitors of all ages will enjoy personal encounters with the animals, as well as permanent displays like the South American Pavilion and Owl Forest. The aviary is a big supporter and promoter of conservation, and offers opportunities to teach visitors and to contribute to conservation efforts.

    Peacock at Tracy Aviary Peacock at Tracy Aviary Emily Allen

    Phrase Book

    English Pronounciation

    The climate of Salt Lake City is fairly extreme, with a low annual average temperature of around 52°F (11°C) and a high of 90 °F (32.2 °C). Between November and April snow is common, with snowstorms moving in from the Gulf of Alaska. In mid-winter temperature inversions cause pollution and fog to hang in the valley for up to weeks at a time. Spring is the wettest season with numerous rain showers, but summers are generally hot and dry, with occasional monsoons during August and September, which can bring thunderstorms, tornadoes and flash floods. Autumn is also prone to rain and variable temperatures.

    Salt Lake City International Airport
    Location: The airport is situated eight miles (13km) northwest of Salt Lake City.
    Time: GMT -7 (GMT -6 from mid-March to the first Sunday in November).
    Transfer Between Terminals: The terminals and concourses are connected by moving walkways.
    Getting to the city: The TRAX Light Rail train stop is located at the south end of Terminal One, and bus stops are located on the curb outside the Welcome Center in the same area, as well as outside Terminal Two. A train departs for the city every 15 minutes on weekdays and every 20 minutes on weekends. Buses operate every day with a more limited weekend service. A one-way fare for the bus or train costs $2.50. Taxis, hotel shuttles, rental cars, and limousines are also available.
    Car Rental: Car hire companies at the airport include Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Firefly, Hertz, National, Payless, and Thrifty, with some companies off-site connected via shuttle.
    Airport Taxis: Taxi booths are located outside of Door 7 in Terminal One, and Door 11 in Terminal Two.
    Facilities: There are currency exchange facilities and ATMs. Facilities for the disabled are excellent. Other facilities include restaurants and bars, shops (including duty-free), shoe shiners, bookstores, spas, courtesy hotel reservation telephones, and a tourist information desk.
    Parking Hourly and Daily Parking is provided in a lot within walking distance of the terminals, costing $2 for the first 30 minutes and $1 for each additional 20 minutes, up to a daily maximum of $32. Economy Parking is serviced by a free shuttle and costs $10 per day.

    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 Free Fare Zone for both forms of transport downtown around Temple Square. A one-way fare is $2.50, and a day pass costs $6.25. During the winter a ski bus connects the city to nearby ski resorts. Metered taxis are freely available throughout the city and can be hailed on the street or ordered by telephone. Driving around 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.

    It may have been founded, and still largely exists, as the headquarters of a devout religious community, but anyone who enjoys a holiday in Salt Lake City will attest to the fact that it's not all about conservative Mormon tradition. While the spiritual can be uplifted by the voices of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in Temple Square, it is also possible to have an indulgent meal in a top restaurant, and a rip-roaring night on the town.

    The city welcomes those travelling for business, and is a popular destination for conferences. Of course, Salt Lake City is also in a beautiful scenic setting with winter sports and summer trails on its doorstep. The famous ski resorts of Utah, including Deer Valley and Solitude, are just beyond the city. Even the ruggedly beautiful state parks of the south are only a few hours away by car.

    Those planning some sightseeing in the city should consider buying the Visit Salt Lake Connect Pass, which allows discounted access to about 13 top attractions, saving tourists between 50 and 80 percent on admission charges. The Connect Pass can be purchased online.

    Outdoor enthusiasts travel to Salt Lake City in summer, between June and August, to head for the nearby hills and hiking trails. Alternatively, winter sports lovers holiday in Salt Lake City between December and February, when the snow is thick on the mountains, providing world-class skiing at a number of top resorts.

    Great Salt Lake

    Thought to be the second saltiest body of water in the world after the Dead Sea, floating weightlessly in the water of the Great Salt Lake is one of the main attractions of the region. The huge lake is also a World Heritage Bird Sanctuary due to the numbers of migratory birds that eat the saline water's brine flies and shrimp. Antelope Island is the largest of the lake's ten islands and reached either by boat or causeway, offering excellent picnics, hiking and camping. It also boasts a herd of American Bison, introduced in 1893, and other interesting animals such as coyotes, bobcats and elk.

    Great Salt Lake Great Salt Lake DR04
    Dinosaur National Monument

    The Dinosaur National Monument straddles the border between Utah and Colorado, preserving the layers of rock in which dinosaur bones from the Jurassic period were embedded. Full skeletons were discovered at a newly-made quarry, as well as fossils of sea creatures up to three times older than the dinosaurs. A visitor centre has been built over the quarry to protect the fossils. Forming one of the walls is an exposed rock layer containing more than 2,000 dinosaur bones that has been enclosed as a permanent exhibit. The surrounding area also has beautiful mountain scenery, with its deep mountain canyons, forests and hiking trails, on top of unique wildlife and thrilling Colorado rapids.

    Website: www.nps.gov/dino
    Green River, Dinosaur National
Monument Green River, Dinosaur National Monument Michael Overton
    Park City

    The holiday destination of Park City is famous for its three world-class ski resorts. The Canyons features eight mountains, 146 trails and 3,500 acres (1,416 ha) of diverse terrain, suited to every style and ability. Deer Valley Resort contains thrilling chutes and bowls, and caters to families and ski champs alike. Park City Mountain Resort also has something for everyone, from deep powder bowls and long groomed runs to world-class terrain parks and a superpipe. The historic district adds character, now home to stylish condos and a sophisticated resort community. There's a plethora of restaurants and bars, while the Sundance Film Festival is one of the most anticipated events on the film industry calendar.

    Website: www.parkcity.org
    Park City, Utah Park City, Utah Brad.K
    Solitude

    Located 30 miles (48km) southeast of Salt Lake City, Solitude Mountain Resort is one of the smaller, quieter ski resorts in Utah and most popular with families on weekend getaways. Situated in Big Cottonwood Canyon in the Wasatch Mountains, the resort boasts incredible natural beauty. As far as skiing is concerned, Solitude caters mainly to the beginner and intermediate markets, with 70 percent of its slopes being graded at these levels. Solitude contains about 64 trails on 1,200 acres (486 ha) and a wealth of high-quality lodging, shopping and dining facilities. It's consistently voted in the top 20 family ski resorts in the USA.

    Solitude Mountain Resort Solitude Mountain Resort Baileypalblue
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