Utah contains some of the greatest concentrations of spectacular geological features in the world. Mainly in the south and east, the land is largely bare rock in many amazing shapes and colors and is dominated by twisting canyons, delicate arches, sheer mountains and ridges, spires and buttes. More than any other Southwest state, Utah displays the typical Western images of sandy desert, deep canyons and towering red rocks. Most of south and central Utah are protected as National or State Parks, Wilderness Areas and National Forests. Much of this area is still quite inaccessible with few towns or roads. The climate is dry for most of the year and summer temperatures often exceed 110F. The protection of the region has continued with the 1996 establishment of the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, the largest in the Southwest.
In the north, the land becomes more mountainous. There are several major ranges including the Wasatch near Salt Lake City with peaks over 13,000 feet.
The far west is largely barren. This is part of the Great Basin and is a landscape of long flat valleys separated by narrow mountain ridges. The Great Salt Lake dominates the northern parts of this area, and is surrounded by a hundred miles of completely flat salt plains.
From the stark barren land in the northwest to the dramatic forms of Monument Valley in the southeast, the variety of landscapes in Utah is almost endless. Parts of some National Parks can become very crowded, but it is easy to find solitude in the beautiful surroundings across many areas of the state.