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Utah has plenty of wide-open spaces across its deserts and mountains. But more than any other state, its residents huddle into cities.
A study released Wednesday by the U.S. Census Bureau says 88.4 percent of Utahns live in cities and towns, instead of unincorporated areas, the top in the nation.
Ranking behind it are Illinois, 86.9 percent; California, 83.1 percent; Kansas, 82.7; and Minnesota, 82.2. Vermont had the lowest rate at 24.6 percent.
The percentage of people living in cities in 2013 by region was highest in the West at 76.4 percent.
"The higher percentage of people living in cities in the West can partly be explained by the limited access to water outside of western cities and federally held land surrounding many of these cities, which limits growth outside incorporated areas," said Darryl Cohen, the report's author.
"This is especially true in Utah, where 88.4 percent of the population lives in an incorporated place," Cohen said.
The new report said U.S. cities are home to 62.7 percent of the U.S. population, but comprise just 3.5 percent of land area.
Population is even denser in Utah, where about nine of 10 people crowd onto just 1.1 percent of the state's land, according to previous Census studies.
The new report looked at population trends in cities and towns, and listed some of the nation's fastest growing cities between 2010 and 2013. Two Utah cities made various lists.
South Jordan was the second-fastest growing in the nation for cities with populations between 50,000 and 99,999. It grew by an estimated 17.7 percent in that span, from 50,418 to 59,366. It is home of the fast-growing Daybreak development.
South Jordan ranked behind only Kent, Wash., which had 34.7 percent growth.
Also, Saratoga Springs, Utah, was the ninth-fastest growing in the nation for cities with populations between 10,000 and 49,999. It grew by 27.9 percent, from an estimated 17,781 resident to 22,749.