Utah, home to 5 national parks and 6 national monuments -- more than any other state -- is geologically and topographically unique. The wind- and water-eroded pinnacles of Bryce Canyon National Park give the impression of a science-fiction landscape illustration from the early 20th century made real. Dinosaur National Monument is centered around the most productive quarry of Jurassic fossils ever discovered, a riverbed where dinosaur carcasses piled up over millenia. The sites of Canyonlands National Park include 150-foot Angel Arch, Puebloan rock art, volcanic domes, and lots of other surprises, especially for those hardy souls who venture out into the back country.
From 32 to 14 thousand years ago, most of northwestern Utah was submerged beneath vast, ancient Lake Bonneville. One year, Bonneville's basin was pierced and much of its water drained out through the Snake River system in a catastrophic flood. After the flood, evaporation continued to shrink Lake Bonneville, leaving behind Great Salt Lake as its descendant. The Bonneville Salt Flats, some of the flattest territory in the world, were exposed by this process.
Salt Lake City, Utah's largest urban area, is the religious capital of the Mormon branch of Christianity. It is a beautiful city, flanked by mountains and the glinting Great Salt Lake, and graced by marvelous religious edifices such as the Mormon Tabernacle; the nightlife, while limited, is much more vibrant than one might expect. Provo, Park City, and Moab, some of the smaller cities in Utah, are notable as gateways to various natural attractions; Park City is also a renowned cultural center, home to the Sundance Film Festival.
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