Compass: Utah (Fodor's Compass American Guides) (1995)

Compass: Utah (Fodor's Compass American Guides) (1995)

by Tom Wharton, Gayen Wharton

"This is the right place, " proclaimed Mormon leader Brigham Young when he and his followers arrived in a desolate land bounded by the deep blue waters of the Great Salt Lake and the mighty peaks of the Wasatch Range. Some modern explorers and travelers have proclaimed, "This is the right guide!" It captures the majesty and magnificence of Utah as no other guide can. See more details below


"This is the right place, " proclaimed Mormon leader Brigham Young when he and his followers arrived in a desolate land bounded by the deep blue waters of the Great Salt Lake and the mighty peaks of the Wasatch Range. Some modern explorers and travelers have proclaimed, "This is the right guide!" It captures the majesty and magnificence of Utah as no other guide can.

Product Details

Fodor's Travel Publications, Inc.
Publication date:
Fodor's COMPASS American Guides Series
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.54(w) x 7.97(h) x 0.83(d)

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There are many ways to contemplate the geological forces which have shaped Utah. Hike to the top
of an alpine peak overlooking the Great Salt Lake Valley and look down on the sprawling metropolitan
area. Drive across the desolate Bonneville Salt Flats, where mirages of floating mountains and
disappearing lakes shimmer across the glistening, salt-encrusted surface. Listen to the roar of the
rapids on a raft trip through Cataract Canyon and watch the colors and shapes of steep sandstone
ledges change dramatically along the way. Then fly back over the same country and look out over the
convoluted canyons, stately fins, windblown arches, and rock bridges formed by erosion. Wander down a
remote, narrow canyon in Zion National Park. Examine the texture of the sandstone closely; feel the
warm, red rock with your hands. Ascend an almost vertical cliff. Lie on a hard, smooth rock surface,
and study the countless hues. Nowhere in the world, perhaps, have the elements of earth, wind, and
water come together with such drama. Underground forces have heaved and pushed massive plateaus and
mountain ranges up more than a mile above sea level. Erosion continues to cut and gouge plateaus into
spectacular pinnacles and canyons. Utah is divided into three major geological provinces: the Colorado
Plateau, the Basin and Range, and the Middle Rocky Mountains. The transition areas between geologic
provinces are zones, some places tens of miles wide, where features of both provinces occur. Each
province extends into adjacent states, and each provides its own unique recreational opportunities and

The Colorado Plateau

The Colorado Plateau covers all of southeastern Utah. It also extends into adjacent areas drained
by the Colorado River in Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona. This sparsely vegetated landscape of
plateaus, mesas, deep canyons, sloping foothills, imposing vertical cliffs, and barren badlands
contains some of the world's most unusual scenery. "Here," wrote William Lee Stokes, "is a kingdom of
rocks, an arena where the elemental forces of time and weather meet the raw stuff of the earth with
nothing to soften or hide the scars of battle."

On the western edge of the Colorado Plateau are eight plateaus ranging in elevation from 8,000 to
11,000 feet (2,425-3,330 m). These run southerly from near the center of the state, with the drainage
about equally divided between the Great Basin and the Colorado River. Brian Head Ski Resort, south of
Parowan, sits atop such a plateau. Nearby are Bryce Canyon National Park, Cedar Breaks National
Monument, and Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument. In fact, since all of Utah's five national
parks are found on the Colorado Plateau, visiting any will help you understand the forces that form
this unique and beautiful part of the world. Geological guides are sold at each park visitor center,
and there are also interpretive signs along the roads.


To understand the many nuances of Utah's culture without knowing anything about the Mormon pioneers
would be like visiting Italy and overlooking the Catholic tradition. Travelers in Utah cannot fail to
sense the presence and heritage of the Mormon Church. Its influence is evident in the gleaming white
temples found in cities like Manti and St. George. It is preserved at historical sites and museums. It
is woven into the fabric of the state's politics, cultural activities, and laws. Many names on the
state's road map -- Brigham City, Moroni, Nephi, Lehi, and Heber City -- reflect Utah's Mormon origins.
The Mormons play, and will continue to play, a tremendous and often misunderstood role. This is their

The Founding of the Mormon Church

The history of the Mormon Church begins with Joseph Smith. As a young man in the early 1800s, Smith
questioned the many Christian religions competing for converts in the eastern United States. Mormons
believe that when Smith prayed for an answer as to which church to join, God and Jesus told him
that they had chosen him to institute the true religion. Later, an angel named Moroni appeared and
showed Smith where he could uncover some gold plates containing the history of Ephriam and Manasseh,
two of the ten tribes of Israel that had fled Jerusalem before it was destroyed by the Babylonians. The
plates told of their escape to the Western Hemisphere, where they established a new civilization.
Eventually they divided into two warring camps, the Nephites and the Lamanites. The plates recorded
the ultimate victory of the Lamanites, from whom the Mormons believe American Indians are descended.
Moroni was himself one of the characters in this history, being the last surviving member of the
Nephites and the one who buried the gold plates.

Besides showing Joseph Smith the location of the gold plates, Moroni also gave him some stone
spectacles with which to translate the plates from an ancient language into English. When he was
finished with his translation, the angel Moroni took the plates back. Smith later produced witnesses
who claimed to have seen the gold plates. In the spring of 1830, Joseph Smith published the Book of
Mormon and founded the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) in Fayette, New York. Members
of the LDS faith hold the Book of Mormon to be divinely inspired. They called themselves Latter-Day
Saints in reference to a prophecy by Paul in the New Testament that the true believers in the last
days of the world would be called saints. Smith was believed to be bringing about these last, or
latter, days by restoring the Gospel to the world. Contemporary visitors to Salt Lake City find the
angel Moroni depicted in gold atop the Mormon Temple, blowing his horn to announce the restoration
of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The popular term of Mormon, incidentally, comes from the name of a
Nephite general who wrote the Book of Mormon contained on the gold plates.

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