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The Land

desert landscape

Beaver Dam Wash, in the southwest corner of Utah. Photo by Fool-on-the-Hill in Flickr.

Explore Utah's land and geography through MAPS.

Landforms and Terrain


Utah varies in elevation from the lowest point, at Beaver Dam Wash, 2,350 feet above sea level, to the highest point, on King's Peak in the Uinta Mountains, 13,528 feet above sea level. 

Finding a place to thrive

Many factors affect what plants and animals can thrive in a place. Elevation, for instance, makes a big difference.

At 3,000 feet you will find sagebrush, Joshua trees, and the horned rattlesnake. Around 5,000 feet you can look for pinyon-juniper forests and herds of mule deer. In the higher mountains live species such as quaking aspen, douglas fir, lynx, and elk. At the very top of the mountains, past 8,000 feet, you can find alpine fir and Engleman spruce.

Most of Utah's cities are located between 3,000 and 7,000 feet in elevation. Why?

What is the elevation of your home?


Utah is considered a desert state. But the mountains may receive 50-60 inches of precipitation a year, while the Great Salt Lake Desert receives only 5 inches.

What difference does the amount of precipitation make in the land? What difference does it make in the lives of the people living on the land?

Learn about the strategy people have used (and use now) when there isn't enough rainfall to grow good crops.


1985 was a year of temperature extremes! The highest temperature ever recorded in Utah was 117 degrees F on July 5, 1985, at St. George. On February 1, 1985, at Peter's Sink in Logan Canyon, the temperature sank to -69 degrees F, the lowest recorded temperature in Utah.

What is the coldest temperature you have experienced?

Read about the worst winter of the 20th century.

Physiographic provinces

Learn about the three main physiographic provinces in Utah.

Landforms and terrain

Utah has a lot of varied terrain--formed by millions of years of geologic processes, climate, wind, and water. Utah has mountains, valleys, flat places, mesas, cliffs, canyons, slickrock formations, low desert, and high desert--and many more kinds of terrain.

What kind of terrain surrounds your home?


Learn about the geology of Utah--how the land got to be the way it is over millions of years.

See some highlights of Utah mining at the Utah Mining Heritage Alliance web page.

How does the land change over time?

Read what Utah Valley was like in 1776.