A look back on presidential visits to Utah

Pres. Reagan and Gov. Bangerter Sept. 1982

President Ronald Reagan leads Governor Norman Bangerter (directly behind) and guest off of Air Force One in September of 1982. (Courtesy: Ron Fox)

Last week, Gov. Gary Herbert greeted President Barack Obama as he made his first trip to Utah as president. The visit by Mr. Obama marks the state’s 132 presidential visit to the state.

Present and past governors have showcased Utah’s beauty during presidential visits. Nineteen presidents have visited the Salt Lake Tabernacle on Temple Square, two presidents have sailed or swam in the Great Salt Lake and at least one has skied the “Greatest Snow on Earth” at Utah ski resorts. Presidents have also visited Fort Douglas, Hill Air Force Base, Liberty Park and the Cities of Provo and Ogden.

George W. Bush attended the 2002 Olympic Winter Games and is the only president to have visited the Utah Capitol. Teddy Roosevelt is the only president to visit the Governor’s Mansion while in office, and William Taft was one of the first guests at the Hotel Utah.

George W. Bush holds the record of most visits to Utah, four, during his presidency. William Taft, Harry Truman, Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush all visited the Beehive State three times while president. Herbert Hoover, the 31st president of the United States, only visited Utah once while in office, but has visited Utah 23 times – more than any other president.

The shortest visit to the Beehive State by a president was William Mckinley, the 25th president. He stayed in Ogden for only 20 minutes at midnight. A day visit was planned, but Mrs. McKinley became ill and they returned home.

Only four presidents have not visited the State of Utah while in office: Calvin Coolidge, Grover Cleveland, James A. Garfield and Chester A. Arthur. Although, Garfield visited twice as a member of Congress, he never did as president.