Information and Services
Prices of all services mentioned in this travel guide were current at press time. You're sure to find seasonal and long-term price changes, so please, don't use what's listed here to argue with the staff at a motel, campground, museum, airline, or other office.
Banks and ATMs
Cash machines (ATMs) are available throughout Utah, even in the smallest towns. It's hard to exchange foreign currency or travelers checks outside of central Salt Lake City, so foreign travelers should exchange all they'll need before setting out for rural parts of the state. Credit cards are generally accepted at most businesses.
A 6.25 percent sales tax is added to most transactions on goods, food, and services. Additional room taxes are added; these vary by community and can be quite steep.
It's customary to tip food and drink servers 15-20 percent; tips are almost never automatically added to the bill. Taxi drivers receive a 10-15 percent gratuity; bellhops get at least $1 a bag.
Communications and Media
Normal post office hours are 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday and sometimes 8:30 a.m.-noon Saturday. U.S. post offices sell stamps and postal money orders. Overnight express service is also available.
Utah has two area codes: 801 is the code for the greater Salt Lake City area, which includes suburbs as far south as Provo and as far north as Ogden. The rest of the state has the area code 435.
Toll-free numbers in the United States have an 800, 888, 877, or 866 area code. To obtain directory assistance, dial 411. In rural areas, you may need to dial the state area code, then 555-1212. Many airlines and motel chains have toll-free numbers; dial 800/555-1212 for toll-free information.
The cost of a call from a pay phone is usually $0.50. Phones that accept prepaid phone cards are only dependably available in the Salt Lake City and Park City areas.
Even in small towns, most hotels (and even many budget motels) offer wireless Internet access.
Don't depend on cell phone coverage outside of the Interstate highway corridors. Coverage can be very spotty in rural areas.
Maps and Tourist Information
General tourist literature and maps are available from the Utah Travel Council (800/200-1160, www.utah.com). Utah's many chambers of commerce also have free material and are happy to help with travel suggestions in their areas. See the Information sections throughout this book for contact information. Also listed are national forest offices and other government agencies that have information on outdoor recreation in their areas.
The Utah Department of Transportation prints and distributes a free, regularly updated map of Utah. Ask for it when you call for information or when you stop at a visitor information office. If you're planning on extensive backcountry exploration, be sure to ask locally about conditions. Backcountry enthusiasts or back-road explorers should also pick up Benchmark Maps' Utah Road and Recreation Atlas.
Obtain literature and the latest information on all of Utah's state parks from the Utah State Parks and Recreation office (801/538-7220 or 877/887-2757, http://stateparks.utah.gov). If you're planning a lot of state park visits, ask about the $75 annual state park pass. Reservations for campgrounds and some other services can be made at 800/322-3770 or www.reserveamerica.com; a reservation fee of $8 applies.
In Utah, most commercial businesses are open 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday. The biggest surprise to many travelers will be that nearly all businesses—and almost certainly those away from Salt Lake City, big recreational hubs, and the national parks—close on Sunday in Utah. Again, almost all businesses in Utah, including restaurants, are closed on Sunday. This includes local public transportation. Even in Salt Lake City it can be difficult to find a place to eat on Sunday; even fast-food restaurants are closed. Imagine how difficult it might be to find a bite to eat in, say, Monticello. If you're traveling outside the Wasatch Front on Sunday, ask your motel clerk if you'll be able to find a meal at your intended destination. Usually some gas stations along the interstates are open on Sunday, but in out-of-the-way places it's not guaranteed, so be sure to fill up on Saturday. Plan well ahead; it's easy to get stranded, hungry, and disappointed.
Note that most museums, recreation areas, and other tourist attractions close on Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Day, and other holidays. These closings are not always mentioned in the text, so call ahead to check.
Weights and Measures
The state is in the mountain time zone and goes on daylight saving time (advanced one hour) May-October. Nevada is in the Pacific time zone (one hour earlier); all other bordering states are in the mountain time zone. An odd exception is Arizona, which stays on mountain standard time all year (except for the Navajo Reservation, which goes on daylight saving time to keep up with its Utah and New Mexico sections).
As in all of the United States, electricity is 110 volts. Plugs have either two flat or two-flat-plus-one-round prongs. Older homes and hotels may have outlets that only have two-prong outlets, and you may well be traveling with computers or appliances that have three-prong plugs. Ask your hotel or motel manager for an adapter; if necessary, you may need to buy a three-prong adapter, but the cost is small.
© W.C. McRae and Judy Jewell from Moon Utah, 9th Edition