Nestled at the base of the Wasatch Range and the saline lake that gives this metropolis its name, Salt Lake City is one of America’s least stressed out urban areas. Given the natural beauty that surrounds residents here and the outdoor recreation opportunities that it provides, it certainly isn’t hard to understand why.
While the valley in which SLC sits is a lush and abundant place in the present day, when Brigham Young and his roving band of Mormon pioneers rolled into the valley in the 1840’s, they set out to transform what they maintained was their stopping point, one that was allegedly foretold in a dream from God prior to setting out on their westward journey.
Through extensive irrigation, the Wasatch Front turned into productive farmland, and today it plays host to no less than 79% of Utah’s population. As such, it is the perfect place to stock on supplies and enjoy urban amenities before heading out to experience this state’s expansive natural assets.
Being the center of Mormon culture in the United States, it is also the place to explore the cultural underpinnings behind one of America’s most distinctive Christian sects.
Standing out prominently in the midst of downtown Salt Lake City, Temple Square contains most of the sights related to the heart of the Mormon religion. The massive Salt Lake Temple, while not accessible to non-believers or even practising Mormons without an invite, makes for awe-inspiring pictures, especially after dark.
The Salt Lake Tabernacle is open to all though, and is well worth seeing due to its significance as a meeting place for practitioners of Mormonism, as well as its gargantuan pipe organ. Other places worth seeing include Salt Lake Assembly Hall (a massive Mormon church with seating for 1,400), The Seagull Monument (commemorates a flock of seagulls that prevented an insect plague from devouring crops in 1848), and the Church History Museum (displays the history of the Mormon Church for visitors to peruse).
Before any of this was ever built though, it was just another dry and dusty valley in the American Mountain West. However, Brigham Young, as mentioned in the introduction, had been instructed by God to stop in a spot that looked exactly like the Wasatch Front.
Upon cresting the ridge that hid the view of this beautiful part of America from his eyes, he exclaimed for the caravan, as he revealed to the group that this was the place that was shown to him by the Lord in a dream.
This Is the Place Heritage Park is reportedly located near the spot where this exclamation was made, with a monument commemorating the founders, as well as living history village comprising the highlights that can be found here by visitors.
While modern Mormonism officially bars its members from practicing polygamy, back in the early days of the church, it was viewed as a necessity to take on multiple wives and have large families in order to build their society up quickly.
Brigham Young was one of those in the early days that followed this edict, and as such, he had to build a home that would hold his rapidly expanding flock comfortably. Lion House is what resulted from this, with over 20 bedrooms being located throughout this massive building.
Today, a restaurant exists where one of living rooms used to be, making it a great place to combining a bit of sightseeing with lunch.
As you might expect given the name of this metropolis, there is indeed a lake that consists of briny water rather than fresh in the area. Great Salt Lake State Park protects this saline body of water for the benefit of general public, with a marina, swimming facilities (the water is very buoyant due to the high level of salinity) and picnicking facilities for those looking to enjoy a lunch amidst of the more austere environments on Earth.
Those looking to explore the native flora that exists in this portion of the American West should take a trek through Red Butte Garden and Arboretum. Sprawling over 100 acres of land and with paths extending over several miles, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to enjoy plants like desert marigolds or Indian paintbrushes while getting in your exercise at the same time.
Fans of space will love Utah; its large stretches of deserted land make for abundant dark sky preserves, so this state is the perfect place for stargazing. Before you head out into the hinterland though, learn a bit about the constellations that you will be viewing at the Clark Planetarium.
Being installed with a state of the art projection system means that patrons can view the stars and other cosmic structure in glorious 3D (without needing those goofy glasses). Additionally, an IMAX theater is also on site, allowing you to watch films that will teach you about various aspects of the planet we call home while being surrounded by intense imagery and sound that is part of the trademark IMAX experience.