Utah State Study

UtahSandstone deserts, tech companies, the Great Salt Lake, join us for a Utah State Study.

When teaching about a state start with a bit of the history behind the state.  You don’t need to go into detail, just a brief re-cap will be enough.


Utah was inhabited first by several Indian tribes among them, the Utes, therefore the name, Utah.  The word “Utah” means people who inhabit the mountains.

Next the Spanish claimed Utah, along with many other western states and when Mexico gained its independence, these lands became Mexican territories.  Some of these territories were inhabited by Mexican citizens, but Utah was not inhabited by settlers until later.  America and Mexico entered a war, which was won by the United States in 1848.  The terms of the treaty called for the lands of what is now the south-western United States to become US territories, which were by this time much more heavily occupied by American citizens than by Mexican citizens.  Still, Utah, had no permanent American inhabitants.

This is delicate arch in Arches National Park in southern Utah. Photo by Oke, CC license, Wikimedia.

Just one year later in 1849, Mormon pioneers arrived in Utah and established permanent settlements.  Struggling at first, they soon established strong successful communities.  Utah became a state in 1896.

Most Mormon pioneers came west with traditional wagons pulled by oxen, but some poorer families came west pulling their own goods in handcarts. Image from History of Iowa From the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the Twentieth Century Volume , Author Benjamin F. Gue, Public domain.

State Symbols

The symbols of Utah are almost all related to the early Mormon pioneers who established and built the state.

  • Nickname: Beehive state, named for the industry and hard work of bees, a virtue much encouraged and admired by the Mormon pioneers
This is a view of Utah as you enter from Nevada. The road sign has the Utah beehive symbol on it. Photo by Famartin, CC license, Wikimedia.
  • State Flower: Sego Lily, the roots of this plant kept the pioneers from starvation when they first found their new homes.
  • State Bird: Seagull, miraculously saved the pioneers crops from a plague of locusts that threatened to destroy every green thing in the valley.  The birds ate the grasshoppers, saving the crops.
  • State Motto: Industry, also related to the bees and hard work.


Color a Utah Map showing the major cities and major landscape features.

Utah web


  • Salt Lake City
  • Logan
  • Ogden
  • Provo
  • Moab
  • Richfield
  • St. George
  • Great Salt Lake
  • Utah Lake
  • Uinta Mountain Range
  • Wasatch Mountain Range

You may also like to add some of the National Parks of Utah, ski resorts, military bases, and the Bonneville Salt Flats,where the world land speed record was set.

Another interesting Map of Utah is the one below.

This is a map of all the Federal and Indian land in Utah.  The white portion is owned privately or by the state of Utah.

The colored portion of the map above is owned by the federal government, except for the pink areas, which are Indian land.  An astounding 65% of Utah’s land is not in control of the state it is inside.

This is a view of downtown Salt Lake City, the capital and largest city in the state. In the background you see the Wasatch Mountains, a range within the Rocky Mountains. Photo by Garrett from Salt Lake City, CC license, Wikimedia.

Additional Layers

  • Learn more about Mormons and what they believe since they played and still play such a large role in Utah.
  • There are some very cool rock formations in Utah, including hoodoos.  Find out more about the red rock formations in the southern desert.
  • Utah has some of the finest powder on the planet for snow skiing.  This is because Utah is so dry and the mountains are so high.  Find out more about how snow forms and what makes different types of snow.
  • Utah also has crazy weather down the Wasatch front, the mountain range running north and south past Salt Lake City.  Some things that affect the weather and make it unpredictable are deserts, high abrupt mountains, long valleys with very few trees or hills, a long corridor connecting hot air from the south and cold air form the north.  Find out more about how land features affect the weather.
  • Utah has lots of dinosaur fossils, especially in the north-east corner of the state.  Find out about the dinosaurs that once lived here.
  • Huge swaths of the western states of the US are owned by the federal government, but that is not true of the rest of the states.  This means that the western states cannot profit from the sale of the land or the natural resources that are on it.  Neither can the people within the state decide how to manage the land.  Here is a map that shows the difference between the west and the rest of the US.
Map from US Bureau of Land Management, public domain.

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