The borders of Cache County follow the natural line of the Wellsville mountains to the west, and divides a ridge line of the Wasatch Mountains to the east. The valley in between those two ranges was first discovered by fur trappers in the early 19th century, and then further settled during westward expansion. Much of the area’s history is characterized by agriculture, specifically farming and dairying. Today, it is home to a modest-sized state university and an ever-growing population. Yet it largely remains a pristine mountain valley, with access to excellent skiing, and unlimited terrain for hiking and outdoor activity. During the winters, Cache County is known for cold temperatures and large amounts of snow, and during the summers, the area is verdant green with a deciduous forest of pine and aspen.
Daggett County occupies the northeastern corner of Utah that borders Colorado and Wyoming. Contained within its boundaries is a large section of the Ashley National Forest, and the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area. Flaming Gorge is a deep canyon that was formed by the Green River – a major tributary of the Colorado River that formed the Grand Canyon. A dam was built on the river in 1964, and now, Flaming Gorge is a reservoir that provides water for nearby communities, and a wealth of outdoor recreation. The reservoir is a popular fishing destination, and a great place for boating and water sports.
Upon arrival in Grand County, you may be expecting to come across a Mars lander roving the surface of an alien planet. But instead, you will find enthusiasts going to the city Moab, and Arches and Canyonlands National Park for world-class mountain biking, rock climbing, and hiking. Much of the county’s landscape is made of iron-rich sandstone in warm, bright hues. Over millions of years, the earth eroded and was shaped by freezing and melting water that leaves unique rock formations. The most famous in Grand County are the sandstone arches – stunning stone formations that make this area a unique destination.
Wayne County encompasses a section of central Utah with a relatively low population, yet high adventure. The most recent census reported that the county had fewer than 3,000 residents in over 2,400 square miles. The county contains sections of Capitol Reef National Park and Canyonlands National Park, plus the Green River marks the county’s eastern border with Uinta County. With high, forested peaks and low desert valleys, Wayne County offers a range of landscapes to enjoy without traveling too far. The towns of Torrey, Loa, and Lyman, and the nearby Capitol Reef National Park seem like undiscovered territory. Not as well-known as some of the other parks in Utah, this one is quieter, and more likely to frequented by local Utahns.
East of the Wasatch Mountain range, dubbed the ‘Wasatch Back’ by locals, lays Morgan County. Much of the county’s land is rugged, mountainous terrain. Access to the county is primarily gained via winding roads that cut through canyons, but the vistas are out of this world. Two reservoirs hold the majority of the county’s stored water supply, and deliver fishing and other water sport opportunities. The largest city in the county, Morgan, is a sleepy, pleasant town with a strong farming background. From anywhere in the town, you have striking views of the towering surrounding mountains. Snowbasin Resort sits on the north-west tip of Morgan County, and is some of the state’s best skiing in the winter months.
Summit County is home to some of Utah’s most expensive real estate – and biggest names. Park City attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors a year for its famous ski resorts and the Sundance Film Festival. Whether visiting on- or off-season, the area is dotted with idyllic mountain towns, luxury resorts, and rugged forest terrain. The Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest on the eastern side of the county is a popular place for Utahns to camp, and has a large number of vacation properties, cabins, and campgrounds. Picturesque towns like Oakley, Kamas, and Coalville are small and enchanting, with ranches, rodeos, and plenty of fresh air.
Uintah County sits in the Uintah basin, the bowl-shaped bed of a lake that existed there prehistorically. The Uintah mountains are the most prominent natural boundary to the north, and the Wasatch mountains to the east. The Green River cuts right across the middle of the county, with its famous ‘horseshoe bend’ – a dramatic U-shaped natural curve in the river’s path. This area of Utah isn’t, at first, as visually striking as some other areas of the state, but it offers its own type of rugged beauty and unique features. In the north-east section of the county is Dinosaur National Monument, which was created after a large amount of dinosaur remains were found in the area. Now, visitors can enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime experience of seeing real fossils, frozen in time in the sandstone.
When it comes to the natural beauties of Utah, Wasatch County has it all. Just a short drive from the major cities of Salt Lake Provo, Wasatch has majestic mountains, lakes, rivers, small towns, and plenty of snow in the winter. The county’s boundary begins just south of Park City, and stretches south past Strawberry Reservoir, and east to the Uintas. The unspoiled towns of Heber and Midway are popular day-trip destinations for Utahns, and have steadily growing populations of their own. During the summer months, the area is popular for biking and hiking. The city of Midway is home to two distinct attractions: the Swiss Days festival honoring the local Swiss immigrant heritage, and the Homestead Crater: a naturally formed crater lake that is fed by an underground hot spring.
At the southern-most tip of Utah, bordering Nevada and Arizona, Washington County is another area with a desert climate and unique beauty. The area has become famous for its bright-red sandstone rocks, high temperatures, and access to adventure. Zions National Park is a network of canyons, sky-high plateaus, and impressive sheer cliffs formed by the Virgin River, that is beloved for rock climbing, hiking, and canyoneering. Tourism photos of Utah often depict the dramatic and breathtaking natural formations in the area. The lowest point in Utah is located in Washington County, in the Beaver Dam Wash at 2,179 feet above sea level.
The majority of Weber County encompasses the mountainous splendor that Utah is known for. The Ogden Valley on the east side of the Wasatch range is a picturesque lowland with a few quiet towns and a large reservoir. Weber County’s west boundary runs along the coast of the Great Salt Lake, the state capital’s namesake. The lake is massive, covering an average area of 1,700 square miles, and ranges from 3.5-8 times saltier than the ocean. Because of the salinity, few things can live in the water, and motorboats do not tread its waters. But Weber County has taken advantage of the unique circumstances, and established the Ogden Bay Waterfowl Management Area – an excellent place for bird-watching.