Salt Lake County is a county located in the U.S. state of Utah. It had a population of 1,029,655 at the 2010 census.[1] Its county seat and largest city is Salt Lake City, the state capital and largest city.Template:GR It occupies a valley, Salt Lake Valley, as well as parts of the surrounding mountains, the Oquirrh Mountains to the west and the Wasatch Range to the east. In addition, the Great Salt Lake is partially within the northwestern section of the county. The county is famous for its ski resorts, which led to Salt Lake City hosting the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Salt Lake County is part of the Salt Lake City Metropolitan Statistical Area as well as the Salt Lake City–OgdenClearfield Combined Statistical Area.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 808 square miles (2,092 km²), of which 737 square miles (1,910 km²) is land and 70 square miles (182 km²) (8.72%) is water.

Perhaps the most dominating physical feature in Salt Lake County are the Wasatch Mountains in the eastern portion of the county, famous for both summer and winter activities. The snow in the region is often coined the "Greatest Snow on Earth" for its soft, powdery texture, and led to Salt Lake City winning the bid for the 2002 Winter Olympics. In Salt Lake County there are four ski resorts; Snowbird and Alta in Little Cottonwood Canyon and Solitude and Brighton in Big Cottonwood Canyon. Hiking and camping are especially popular summer activities. Marking the western portion of the county are the Oquirrh Mountains. These two mountain ranges together, along with the much smaller Traverse Mountains to the south of the valley, delimit Salt Lake Valley, which is also flanked on the northwest by the Great Salt Lake.


All of the entrances to the valley are narrow. These include Parley's Canyon leading into Summit County to the northeast, Emigration Canyon leading into Morgan County, also to the northeast, the space between the Wasatch Mountains and the Great Salt Lake leading into Davis County to the north, the "Point of the Mountain" leading to Utah County to the south, and a space between the Oqiurrh Mountains and the Great Salt Lake leading to Tooele County to the northwest. On the north and east benches, the houses sometimes climb as far as halfway up the mountain, and new communities are also being constructed on the steeper southern and western slopes. Rapid residential construction continues in the west-central, southwest, and southern portions of the valley. In the far west, southwest, and northwest, rural areas still exist, but rapid growth threatens what remains of the natural environment in the valley.

Adjacent countiesEdit


The Salt Lake Valley receives, on average, approximately 15 inches (380 mm) of precipitation annually, usually with more on the east side and less on the west side, as most storms come from the Pacific Ocean. This leaves much of the west side in the rain shadow of the Oquirrh Mountains. Up to 20 inches (500 mm) is received on the benches. Most of this precipitation is received in spring. The summer is dry, with the majority of precipitation arriving from the monsoon that rises from the south. Short, localized, and often dry thunderstorms are usually associated with the monsoon. However, some of them can be very intense. These storms can also cause flash floods and wildfires (due to dry lightning and powerful winds). Precipitation is heaviest in late fall/early winter and in spring, while early summer is the driest season.

The valley receives 55 inches (140 cm) or more of snow in a year, with up to 100 inches (250 cm) received on the benches. Most of the snow falls from mid-November through March. The mountains receive up to 500 inches (1,270 cm) of light, dry snow and up to 55 inches (1400 mm) of precipitation annually. The dry snow is often considered good for skiing, contributing to the four ski resorts in the county. Snow usually falls from October through May. The heavy snow totals across the county can be attributed to the lake-effect, where precipitation is intensified by the warm waters of the Great Salt Lake, which never entirely freezes due to the lake's high salinity. The lake-effect can affect any area of the county. The dry snow is attributed to the low humidity of the region.

During winter, temperature inversions are a common problem. The inversion will trap pollutants, moisture, and cold temperatures in the valley while the surrounding mountains enjoy warm temperatures and brilliant sunshine. This can cause some melting snow in the mountains and unhealthy air quality and low visibility in the valley. This weather event lasts from a few days to up to a month in extreme cases, and is caused by a very strong high pressure positioned over the Great Basin.

Demographics Edit

Template:USCensusPop As of the censusTemplate:GR of 2010, there were 1,029,655 people, 343,218 households, and 291,686 families residing in the county. The population density was 1,274 people per square mile (791/km²). There were 364,031 housing units at an average density of 450 per square mile (279/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 81.2% White, 1.59% Black or African American, 0.89% Native American, 3.3% Asian, 1.53% Pacific Islander, 8.35% from other races, and 3.14% from two or more races. 17.09% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

By 2007 Non-Hispanic whites were 76.5% of Salt Lake County's population and Latinos were 15.7% of the population. African-Americans were 1.7% of the population. Asians were 3% of the population, while Pacific Islanders were 1.3%. Native Americans were still 1% of the population.[2] The Census' 2005 American Community Survey indicated that 11.4% of Salt Lake County's population living in households (as opposed to group arrangements such as college dormitories) spoke Spanish at home.

In 2010 there were 343,218 households out of which 40.10% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.80% were married couples living together, 10.40% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.50% were non-families. 20.80% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.20% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.00 and the average family size was 3.53.

In the county, the population was spread out with 30.50% under the age of 18, 12.90% from 18 to 24, 30.60% from 25 to 44, 18.00% from 45 to 64, and 8.10% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 29 years. For every 100 females there were 101.70 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 99.70 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $48,373, and the median income for a family was $54,470. Males had a median income of $36,953 versus $26,105 for females. The per capita income for the county was $20,190. About 5.70% of families and 8.00% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.00% of those under age 18 and 5.50% of those age 65 or over.

By 2009 the county population had risen to 1,034,989, or 15.2% since 2000. This was a rise below the rate for the state overall; however, Utah was the 2nd fastest growing state (after Wyoming)in 2009 according to the U.S. Census Bureau.[3]


19th centuryEdit

The area that was to become Salt Lake County was settled in 1847 when Mormon pioneers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), fleeing persecution in the East, arrived in the Salt Lake Valley after traveling through Emigration Canyon. Brigham Young, their leader, declared "This is the right place" after seeing the valley, which was at the time arid, dry, and unpromising. However, they soon developed a flourishing, self-sufficient city, Great Salt Lake City, through extensive irrigation techniques. Thousands of Mormons from around the world followed in the next several decades. The county was officially formed on January 31, 1850, with just over 11,000 residents recorded.[4]

Settlements were scattered across the valley and beyond, and the territorial capital was moved to Great Salt Lake City in 1857, when the name was subsequently shortened to Salt Lake City. In 1858, when the Utah Territory was declared in rebellion after governor Brigham Young refused to step down for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' polygamous practices, the government sent troops to install a new governor and keep watch over the place. However, the valley was abandoned and the troops set up Camp Floyd to the south in Utah County. In 1862, Fort Douglas was established on the eastern bench, near the current site of the University of Utah, to make sure that the territory maintained its allegiance during the American Civil War.

Patrick Edward Connor, who was the leader of the garrison stationed at Fort Douglas, was openly anti-Mormon and sent out parties to scout for mineral resources in the nearby mountains to encourage non-Mormons to settle there. During the late 19th century, mines were established in the mountains, most notably around Alta. Exploiting the mineral wealth was difficult until the Utah Central Railroad arrived in 1870. The Bingham Canyon Mine, which contains vast deposits of copper and silver, was the most notable of the mines that was established. The mine, located in the Oquirrh Mountains in the southwest portion of the county, attracted thousands of settlers to the narrow canyon. At its peak, the city of Bingham Canyon contained 20,000 residents all crowded along the steep walls of the canyon, and natural disasters were a frequent occurrence. By the early 20th century, most of the mines in the county had closed. However, the Bingham Canyon Mine kept on expanding, and today is among the largest open-pit mines in the world.

20th centuryEdit

After the railroad came to the county, the population began to expand more rapidly and non-Mormons began to settle in the city. During the early 20th century, heavy industry came to the valley as well, diversifying its economy, and a trolley system was in place in what are now Salt Lake City and South Salt Lake. The trolley system was mostly dismantled by 1945 as cars outpaced public transportation across the country. Throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the east side of the valley began to be heavily-settled. In 1942, Camp Kearns, a massive military installation created for World War II, was created in what is now Kearns and Taylorsville on the western side of the valley. After the camp was closed in 1946, the land was sold off and rapid settlement of the area began. Other major defensive installations were set up along the Wasatch Front and in the Great Salt Lake Desert during World War II, further encouraging growth and boosting the economy, as well as establishing Utah as a major military center. In the nation-wide suburb boom of the late 1940s, 1950s, and early 1960s, such cities as South Salt Lake, Murray, Midvale, and much of the east side of the valley grew rapidly.

The airport was upgraded to international status in the 1960s and became Salt Lake City International Airport. Like all of the industrialized cities throughout the nation, Salt Lake City faced inner-city decay beginning especially in the 1960s, while the suburbs grew tremendously. Growth in such cities as Sandy, West Jordan, and what would become West Valley City was phenomenal in the 1970s and 1980s. Huge residential tracts were created through the center of the valley, and within ten years, the entire area had been converted from farmland into sprawling bedroom communities to Salt Lake City. West Valley City was created from the merger of the three unincorporated cities of Granger, Hunter, and Chesterfield in 1980. However, not every area of the county saw growth. Not only was Salt Lake City facing urban decay, but the cities that provided residences for the miners in Bingham Canyon were torn down in the 1960s and 1970s. The city of Bingham Canyon was completely torn down and swallowed up in the mine by 1972, and the dismantling of Lark in 1980 completed the process. The only remaining mining town in the county is Copperton, located southwest of West Jordan, with approximately 800 residents.

Beginning especially in the 1990s, rapid growth shifted further south and west. Old farmland and pastureland was swallowed up by new residential development. The cities of West Jordan, South Jordan, Riverton, Herriman, and Draper are some of the fastest growing cities in the state. During the 1990s, Salt Lake City began reversing the trend of inner-city decay, and its population grew for the first time in 40 years. Salt Lake City's selection as the host of the 2002 Winter Olympics spurred a construction boom in the city that continued well after the Olympics left, until a recession began in 2008. As the county's population has surpassed 1 million, one of the main issues in the county is urbanization. Only a few small rural areas remain in the far west of the valley. Other issues facing the county today include pollution and transportation.

According to data from the LDS Church and the State of Utah, Salt Lake County was 53% LDS (Mormon) in 2004, as reported in the Salt Lake Tribune.[5][6] Extrapolating corresponding figures of 62% LDS in 1994 and 57% in 1999, along with the 2004 figure of 53%, renders an estimate that Salt Lake County is very likely less than 50% LDS today. Template:Citation needed


The region's economy used to revolve around LDS services and mining. While both are still important to the economy, they have declined in significance greatly since the 19th century. Since World War II, defense industries in the region have also played a very important role in the economy due to its strategic central location in the Western United States, as well as the largely uninhabited and desolate Great Salt Lake Desert to the west.

Beginning in 1939, with the opening of Alta Ski Area, skiing and other winter sports (as well as summer sports), have become a major force in the economy. In 1995, Salt Lake City won the bid to host the 2002 Winter Olympics. The 2002 Olympics boosted tourism and the economy, and helped to dramatically improve transportation throughout the county. Transportation has been a major focus, as the county continues to rapidly grow in population. It was drastically improved beginning in the late 80s and through the 90s, and continues to this day. Beginning in the 1960s, a more service-oriented economy began to develop, and information technologies began to arrive in the 80s and 90s. Although this business has waned in recent years, information and computer companies, such as, are still a thriving business here.

Law and government/PoliticsEdit

File:Salt lake city county building.jpg
Salt Lake County is unique in that it has a partisan county mayor. The current county mayor is Peter Corroon, a Democrat. Former county mayors include Nancy Workman and Alan Dayton (Workman's deputy mayor; Sworn in as acting mayor in September 2004 when Nancy Workman was placed on paid administrative leave).

County councilEdit

Besides a mayor, Salt Lake County also has a county council. Members include three elected at-large and six elected by district. Council members from districts serve four-year staggered terms in partisan elections while at-large members serve six years.

At-large council membersEdit

District council membersEdit


Salt Lake County usually favors candidates from the Republican Party, especially in state and federal elections. In 2004, Republican President George W. Bush won the county over Democrat John Kerry 59% to 37%. In 2008, however, Democrat Barack Obama won Salt Lake County by an extremely narrow margin, 48.17% to 48.09, over Republican John McCain - a difference of 296 votes.[7] It was the first time since 1964, when Lyndon B. Johnson was the Democratic candidate, that Salt Lake County had voted for a Democrat.


Salt Lake County includes five separate public school districts. Salt Lake City and Murray operate their own school districts (although a recent annexation by Murray leaves a part of the city within the Granite School District). The Granite School District, the largest in the state, is a broad district that covers a swath from Kearns and Taylorsville through West Valley City, Utah and eastward to South Salt Lake and Millcreek Township, among others. The Jordan School District, with approximately 48,000 students, covers the southwest part of the county, including West Jordan; the new Canyons School District includes Sandy, and Draper. On November 6, 2007, the east side residents of the Jordan School District in Sandy, Draper, Midvale, Cottonwood Heights, and nearby unincorporated areas, voted to split from the Jordan District. A similar vote to make West Jordan its own district, however, failed.[8]

Public High Schools in Salt Lake County
Alta High SchoolCanyonsSandy
Bingham High SchoolJordanSouth Jordan
Brighton High SchoolCanyonsCottonwood Heights
Copper Hills High SchoolJordanWest Jordan
Cottonwood High SchoolGraniteMurray
Cyprus High SchoolGraniteMagna
East High SchoolSalt Lake CitySalt Lake City
Granger High SchoolGraniteWest Valley City
Highland High SchoolSalt Lake CitySalt Lake City
Herriman High SchoolJordanHerriman
Hillcrest High SchoolCanyonsMidvale
Hunter High SchoolGraniteWest Valley City
Jordan High SchoolCanyonsSandy
Kearns High SchoolGraniteKearns
Murray High SchoolMurrayMurray
Olympus High SchoolGraniteHolladay
Riverton High SchoolJordanRiverton
Skyline High SchoolGraniteMillcreek
Taylorsville High SchoolGraniteTaylorsville
West High SchoolSalt Lake CitySalt Lake City
West Jordan High SchoolJordanWest Jordan


Two high schools have closed:

  • South High School in Salt Lake City closed in 1988; it is now occupied by the City Campus of the Salt Lake Community College (SLCC).
  • Granite High School in South Salt Lake was reformed into an alternative school in 2006, although it remains a public school. However, this venture was not a financial success and the school closed in 2009.

In addition, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City operates 8 elementary schools, 1 middle school, 2 high schools, and 2 preschools in Salt Lake County. Judge Memorial Catholic High School in Salt Lake City is the largest Catholic high school in Utah. The Catholic Church also operates Juan Diego High School in Draper.

Salt Lake County also has several independent schools including:

National protected areaEdit


The county is traversed by three Interstate Highways and one U.S. Highway, as well as an additional freeway and one major expressway. US-89 enters from Davis County to the north and traverses the county arrow-straight until merging with I-15 in north Draper. It is known as State Street along most of the route and is the primary surface road in the valley. I-15 and I-80 intersect just west of Downtown Salt Lake City, merging for approximately 3 miles (5 km) north-to-south. I-80 continues west past the Salt Lake City International Airport and east through Parley's Canyon and into the Wasatch Range. I-15 traverses the valley north-to-south, providing access to the entire urban corridor. The freeway is 10-12 lanes wide after a major expansion project from 1998 to 2001 undertaken in preparation for the 2002 Winter Olympics. I-215 directly serves many of the suburbs of Salt Lake City in the western, central, and eastern portions of the valley in a 270° loop. SR-201, alternatively known as the "21st South Freeway", provides access to West Valley City and the west side of the valley. Bangerter Highway (SR-154) is an expressway that traverses the entire western end of the valley from the airport, ending at I-15 in southern Draper. SR-68, or Redwood Road, is the only surface street that traverses the entire valley from north-to-south.

A light rail system, known as TRAX, is operated by the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) and runs from the Salt Lake Central Station in downtown Salt Lake City south to Sandy, with another line east to the University of Utah; the system currently has 28 stops. Extensions to the airport, West Valley City, and South Jordan are under construction and another to Draper has been approved, with completion of all four expected by 2014. A commuter rail line, FrontRunner, began operation in April 2008 between the Salt Lake Central Station in downtown Salt lake City and Pleasant View. An extension south to Provo is under construction and is expected to be complete by 2012. UTA also operates bus routes to nearly every location in the valley and routes to the ski resorts in winter. The Legacy Parkway opened in 2008 to connect with I-215 at the north end of the valley, providing an alternative route into Davis County to alleviate congestion. The Mountain View Corridor is a freeway planned to be constructed down the far west side of the valley. A historic streetcar is also being considered along 2100 South from the TRAX station to the historic business district in the Sugar House neighborhood.[9]

Cities and townEdit


At present there are 15 cities and one town (Alta) in the county:


  • Bingham Canyon, incorporated 1904, disincorporated 1971. The last buildings were razed in 1972 as the Bingham Canyon Mine absorbed the town. At its peak its population was around 15,000.
  • Forest Dale, incorporated 1902, disincorporated 1912 and reabsorbed into Salt Lake City.[10]
  • Lark was a small town on the southwest side of the valley that was dismantled entirely in 1978 to make way for overburden from the Bingham Canyon Mine. At its peak its population was around 800.

Unincorporated communitiesEdit

The county has created "townships" and "community councils" in unincorporated areas, largely for planning purposes only. As of 2010, all of the townships are also census-designated places (CDPs), but the boundaries set by the Census Bureau and the county do not always coincide.


Community Councils:

See alsoEdit

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