Every time I tour someone, I end on The Shop rooftop with my pitch, “I often get asked why I moved from New York to Utah. I want to be somewhere where city met mountain, and this rooftop shows exactly that”. Though, let’s be honest, there are about 1,000 reasons I made the move from the East Coast. I’ve found even more during my first year out West! I’ve broken down by favorite things about heading West below.
A Grid System with a Twist
Coming from New York City, I thought I had the grid system down. However, Utah gave me the unique twist of adding cardinal directions to both their streets and language. When I heard, “Head North up 200 and make a left on 300 South”, I knew I was far from home. My best trick? The closer mountain range is East, the further is West. From there, North is towards the Capitol, and South, well, is going away from the Capitol (clearly, I need a few more years in me to get it down).
Utah Avalanche Center is Your Winter Guru
There is a reason that the state slogan is greatest snow on Earth. When it snows in Utah, the mountains truly come to life. However, with snow comes avalanches. Snowshoeing and winter hikes are a great way to get outside, but it is imperative you understand the dangers. If you, like me, are still learning how to spot a 30+ degree angle, Utah Avalanche Center is a great resource to let you know what areas are high risk for avalanches.
BLM Land is a Girl’s Best Friend
I first learned what BLM land is before I even moved to Utah. I was visiting a friend and asked about finding a campsite, to which she responded, “oh we don’t have to do that, we can camp for free”. Yes, you heard me correctly. Utah is covered in areas called BLM Land where the public can camp for free. In fact, 42% of the state is considered to be BLM Land. BLM Land is a great way to really explore all that Utah has to offer, however, there is also a lot of land that is private. Gaia is a great resource for how to scout out what is and is not BLM.
Utah is One, Big, Playground
If you stay up North, you are in classic, alpine, wonderland, and if you go down South, you enter rock formations that make you feel like you’ve left this planet. Between the 5 National Parks, vast desert, and numerous mountain ranges, Utah truly has it all. I have hiked through the desert and ended up in a water oasis 600 feet below and climbed 2,000 feet in elevation to a, pristine, lake. The best part is that I have only scratched the surface of what this state has to offer. Remember, leave no trace when you explore and leave each place better than you found it.
You can never predict what will happen when you make a big change. As I look back on my first year, I can say with certainty that is the best chance I have ever taken on myself. Also, If you ever get the chance to pick up and move to the mountains, take it.
About the author
Jennifer is an East Coast transplant, coming from New York and enjoys being where city meets mountain. When not working to build community at The Shop SLC, she enjoys hiking, yoga and trying all of the local coffee shops she can.