Utah is a uniquely beautiful place, but sometimes people in the rest of the country have some misconceptions about our state and its people. We’d like to put a few of those stereotypes to rest, right now.
1) Utah is All About Red Rock Desert
Utah is well-known for its gorgeous red-rock country; our National Parks have more than 23 million visitors every year. It's true -- this part of Utah IS absolutely stunning.
But Utah isn’t all desert. The Wasatch and Uinta mountain ranges include the alpine and forest biomes. You’ll find pines, maples, oaks, willows, aspens and many more deciduous and coniferous species.
Wetlands are concentrated around the Great Salt Lake, where you’ll find migratory and other birds including pelicans, eagles, and gulls. The Bear Lake Migratory Bird Refuge is another place to view inhabitants of Utah’s wetlands.
2) Utah is Mostly Rural, Where Nothing Much Happens
Sure, we have a lot of small towns in Utah. And a vast part of the state is largely uninhabited. But don’t be too quick to judge; our small towns have got a LOT going on. Cedar City is home to Southern Utah University and the Utah Shakespeare Festival. Its productions have garnered national attention and awards, including a Tony and an Emmy!
Tiny Midway (population approx. 4,000) hosts the annual Swiss Days, which brings tens of thousands of visitors every fall.
Vernal’s Uintah Arts Council brings music, fine art, dance and theater productions to the small town, and of course…the dinosaurs are always a draw!
These are just three examples. Many of Utah’s small towns are vibrant, beautiful places full of talented people. Watch for our article later this week, which showcases even more small town fabulousness!
3) Utah’s Residents Are All Mormon
There’s no arguing that Mormons have a lot of political and cultural influence in Utah. After all, Mormon pioneers settled the state. You’ll find 17 LDS temples in Utah and countless churches everywhere you go.
The 2010 U.S. Census reported that about 40 percent of Utahns are not Mormon. Utah’s largest non-Mormon population is Catholic. The Cathedral of the Madeleine is just one of many locations where Utah’s Catholics worship, but arguably one of the most beautiful.
Many families of Greek heritage contributed greatly to Utah’s early history, and continue to live and worship in the state today. Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral was built in 1905.
The Radha Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork, and the Krishna Center in Salt Lake host the annual Festival of Colors, which brings people of all religions and cultures together to celebrate.
Utah has plenty of religious diversity. Unitarians, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Muslims, Hindus, Jehovah’s Witnesses and more live, worship and love Utah.
4) Utah is All About the Outdoors
We love our diverse, beautiful outdoors and all the recreation it offers. But Utah also has an absurdly large amount of cultural offerings, especially considering that our largest city, Salt Lake, doesn’t even come close to the size of other major U.S. cities. World-class Utah Symphony brings in guest conductors and performers from all over the world, as does Ballet West and Utah Opera.
Utah has an MLS soccer team, NBA basketball team, ECHL hockey team and PCL baseball team and plenty of fans for each.
Of course, we have local theater all over the state! We’ve already mentioned the Utah Shakespeare Festival. Other theaters include Hale Theater, in Orem and Salt Lake City, the Egyptian Theater Company in Park City and Tuacahn in St. George. Every University in the state boasts a robust theater and we have countless small companies such as Plan B and Desert Star… you can pretty much find talented local Utah thespians in all corners of the state.
5) Utah is Full of Polygamists
Popular television shows such as “Sister Wives” and and “My Five Wives” spread this stereotype. While it’s true that Mormon pioneers originally took multiple wives, Mormon leader Wilford Woodruff renounced the practice in 1890.
Some polygamist families still live in Utah, in mainstream communities all over the state, and in the community of Hildale. Estimates range from 1 percent to 5 percent of Utah’s population, but it’s hard to know the exact figures, since polygamists live mostly in secrecy.
6) Everyone in Utah Skis or Snowboards
It’s hard to believe that this stereotype could possibly be wrong, but it’s true. How could a true Utahn not spend every powder day on the slopes, especially when it looks like this?
Not everyone in Utah appreciates the best snow on earth. Some people prefer to spend winters snuggled up by the fireplace. Others suffered knee injuries and can’t bear the thought of more rehab. We won’t judge, but will simply recognize that this is a Utah stereotype that should be put to rest.
7) Utahns All Own SUVS and Minivans
Some Utahns need large cars to tote around numerous kids; others just like driving big SUVs or trucks.
But not all Utahns drive 12,000 pound vehicles. We’ve seen plenty of Mini Coopers, Honda Civics, Hyundai Accents and even an occasional Prius.
Utah stereotypes abound, and we’ve presented only seven here. What are some Utah stereotypes that you think should be put to rest?