Niche Homes Realtors serve clients from Utah County to Weber County. We live in various neighborhoods throughout the Salt Lake Valley–the Avenues, Yalecrest, Highland Park, Millcreek, South Jordan, and Draper–and often loosely refer to this large expanse of communities as “the Wasatch Front”. For people moving to Utah from out of state, this broad descriptor of the region doesn’t really convey the nuances of each municipality. This overview will provide clarification about which communities are considered part of “the Wasatch Front” and some key information about three of the most-populated regions within this area.
Defining the Wasatch
Geographically speaking, the Wasatch Range is a section within the Middle Rocky Mountains Province of the Rocky Mountains. This range runs for approximately 160 miles from Utah’s border with Idaho at its northern point to the town of Santaquin at its southern point. It includes many impressive peaks and canyons, with slopes facing east and west. The word Wasatch is thought to be derived from the word used by native Ute people for a mountain pass.
The west facing slope of this range is called “the Wasatch Front”. This is the most densely populated region in Utah, with approximately 80% of Utahn’s calling it home. The capital, Salt Lake City, as well as the cities of Provo and Ogden and their surrounding suburbs are all within its boundaries.
Residents and visitors of the Salt Lake area recognize the Wasatch Range as our valley’s natural eastern barrier, as well as the picturesque backdrop for every sunrise. The east facing slope of the Wasatch Range is home to communities such as Park City and Heber, and is known as “the Wasatch Back”. The Oquirrh Mountains sit across from the Wasatch–where the sun sets–and act as the western edge of the Salt Lake Valley.
The Wasatch Front includes four counties (Weber, Davis, Salt Lake, and Utah) and more than thirty municipalities. These communities can be categorized into three general areas, as illustrated in the above map.
1. Northern Region
Stretching from North Ogden to North Salt Lake, this region of the Wasatch Front is composed of Weber and Davis Counties. Ogden, which was built around a historic railroad junction, is the largest city. Other important institutions include Hill Air Force Base in Layton and Weber State University.
2. Central Region
Salt Lake County is the most densely populated area along the Wasatch Front and includes the downtown area of Salt Lake City, the Salt Lake International Airport, and the University of Utah.
There are 21 cities within Salt Lake County. Check out this blog post to learn more about the particulars of 15 neighborhoods in Salt Lake.
There are two general subregions within the central region: the Salt Lake area and South Valley.
Salt Lake Area: Downtown, Fairpark, Rosepark, Avenues, Yalecrest, Sugarhouse, South Salt Lake, Millcreek, Murray, Holladay, Taylorsville, Kearns, West Valley, Magna
South Valley: South Jordan, Riverton, Herriman, Bluffdale, Sandy, Draper, Midvale, West Jordan, Cottonwood Heights
Salt Lake Valley’s development has followed a typical pattern, with the earliest homes built close to the downtown center of the city and then gradually sprawling out to the suburbs. As such, homes in the South Valley region are generally newer and have larger lots than in the urban areas close to the city center.
3. Southern Region
Driving south on Interstate-15 from Salt Lake City, just after you pass through Draper and Bluffdale, you’ll reach the aptly named “point of the mountain” where the Wasatch Range creates a natural boundary between Salt Lake and Utah Counties. Depending on the weather, you may see hang gliders and paragliders who have launched from the Point of the Mountain Flight Park. As you descend into the valley to the south you’ll also see Utah Lake and the rapidly growing communities of Lehi and Alpine.
This region of the Wasatch Front has seen the highest rate of growth over the last decade–with a population increase of more than 25% between 2010 and 2020. Many technology start-up companies are headquartered here, giving it the nickname Silicon Slopes.
Regardless of which community you call home, life along the Wasatch Front is splendid.
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