Utah History

Utah has a rich history, it was the 45th state in the nation and before that moment and every second since, Utah has been doing great things.


Utah has a very rich Native American history, the name of the state itself comes from the Ute tribe, meaning people of the mountains. Utah remains the home of just over 40,000 Native Americans. There are five major groups that have occupied the Utah area for the past 700-800 years, they are the Ute, Goshute, Paiute, Shoshone, and Navajo. Each of these tribes has their own unique way of life, art forms, traditions and highlights Utah with many sacred places. Most of the historic dwellings, rock art, and ruins found in Utah date back to the Fremont and Anasazi cultures that inhabited this region prior to the arrival of the tribes that live here currently.
Rock Art
There are two forms of rock art that can be found in many locations throughout Utah. There are pictographs and petroglyphs. Pictographs are one of the earliest writing forms and involve the painting of a representative image onto a surface while petroglyphs are carved or pecked into the rock. Most of this rock is from the ancient Native Americans who lived here prior to 800 AD.

Highlighted Historic Art Locations

  • Buckhorn Draw
  • Dinosaur National Monument 
  • Dry Fork Canyon
  • Ivins Petroglyphs
  • Islands of The Great Salt Lake
  • Johnson Canyon 
  • Nine Mile Canyon 
  • Parowan Gap
  • Range Creek Canyon
  • Sand Springs
  • Temple Wash 
  • Wolf Ranch


  • Fremont Indian State Park and Museum 
  • The Nations of the Four Corners Cultural Center 
  • Monument Valley Visitors Center
  • This is the Place Native American Village 
  • Chase Home Museum of Utah Folk Art
  • Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum 
  • Anasazi State Park and Museum 
Ancient Native American Dwellings
  • Hovenweep National Monument
  • Grand Gulch Primitive Area
  • House on Fire | Blanding
Other ancient rock dwellings and pit-house remnants are found throughout southern Utah. These dwellings date back prior to the current Native American residents of Utah (800 AD and prior to that time).
Annual Native American Events

Living Traditions Festival | Salt Lake City 

Heber Valley Pow Wow | Heber
Paiute Restoration Days Pow Wow | Cedar City

Northern Ute Pow Wow | Duchesne

Native American Festival and Pow Wow | West Valley
Ééhaniih Day Celebration | Navajo Mountain 
Western Legends Heritage & Music Festival | Kanab 

Native American Pow Wow | Tooele
Bear Dance: Traditional Hand and Stick Games | White Mesa 

Cedar Band of Paiutes Thanksgiving Pow Wow | Cedar City 


For thousands of years Utah has been inhabitted by indigenous people.  Prior to the arrival of the tribes who live here today, Utah was inhabitted by other people known as the Fremont and Anasazi.  What happened to these groups is unknown.

Between the years 1847 and 1900 the early pioneer settlers of the state of Utah settled 500 locations in and around the state of Utah. It was on July 24, 1847 that just under 150 pioneer settlers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley and declared “This is the Place”.

The Great Basin was a harsh land that required taming that these settlers managed with knowhow and cooperative effort. Not long after arriving cities were designed and construction began. Some of the first areas to be developed were Bountiful, Farmington, Provo, Manti, Ogden, and Tooele which were all established within 3 years of arrival. 

Thousands of pioneer immigrants continued their cross country journey to Utah where the establishment of the west continued, they created farms, built homes and businesses for trade. Utah was granted statehood in 1896 becoming the 45th state in the union. 

In 1896 when Utah was granted statehood there were 250,000 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, today there are just over 2 million who currently live in the state of Utah. 

Today there are just under 30 temples throughout the state. The Salt Lake City temple was the first to begin construction and was the fourth temple to be completed. It was a 40 year construction and stands today as a vibrant representation of the dedication and faith of the early pioneer settlers. The Salt Lake City temple is at the center of Temple Square, a destination in Utah that is 10 acres downtown and attracts millions of visitors yearly (more than many of the National Parks in the state). 

  • Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square
  • Assembly Hall
  • Family History Library
  • Church History Museum
  • Pioneer Log Home
  • Joseph Smith Memorial Building
  • Beehive house

The state of Utah is rich in church history, here are other highlighted destinations:

  • Cove Fort
  • Brigham Young Winter Home
  • St. George Tabernacle
  • Hamblin Home 


Old Ephraim was a notorious and last known Grizzly bear in the state of Utah. He was known for wreaking havoc on farms and livestock in the Bear River Range. There was a bounty put in place for the Old Ephraim and his notorious killings of sheep and other animals was put to an end in 1922 when he was trapped and killed by a sheepherder. Old Ephraim’s Grave is a 10 foot tall stone representing both the enormous size of the bear and the location of death just about Right Fork in Logan Canyon. This trail and area is enjoyed by hikers, bikers, and offroaders.  The Skull of Old Ephraim is housed in Logan in the USU Special Collections. 

Trailhead (41.77749, -111.620484)
Ephraim's Grave (41.763784, -111.543753) 

The Black Hawk War 

The Black Hawk War was a war fought between Native Americans who were led by Chief Black Hawk and the early pioneer settlers. Leading up to the war, settlers and natives of the area struggled to leave peaceably. There had been a few battles and mounting tensions between settlers and Native Americans leading up to The Black Hawk War.  This war began in 1865, it was the most destructive and longest lasting dispute between the two communities and many of the incidents took place in Sanpete and Sevier Counties. The war heated up from 1865-1867, forts were made, and the time was considered open warfare with settlers.

There was similar unrest in other parts of the country between settlers of the areas and Native Americans; those conflicts were quickly put to an end by federal troops. The situation in Utah was unaided due to the political standings in Utah at the time. It was in 1868 a peace treaty was signed and the intensity of incidences decreased but it was not until 1872, the long awaited governmental aid came and the war finally came to an end.

Utah During the Civil War 

The Civil War took place in the United States from 1861-1865.

No battles were actually fought in the territory at the time but Utah still played a roll in the dynamics at the time.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid 

Butch Cassidy is the main alias used by Robert Leroy Parker, of Circleville, Utah, who became the most notorious outlaw in the western United States.  Follow this link to read more about Butch Cassidy.