The southern Utah region was explored by the Spanish in 1540, led by Francisco Vázquez de Coronado, while looking for the legendary Cíbola. A group led by two Catholic priests—sometimes called the Domínguez–Escalante expedition—left Santa Fe in 1776, hoping to find a route to the coast of California. The expedition traveled as far north as Utah Lake and encountered the native residents. The Spanish made further explorations in the region but were not interested in colonizing the area because of its desert nature. In 1821, the year Mexico achieved its independence from Spain, the region became known as part of its territory of Alta California.
European trappers and fur traders explored some areas of Utah in the early 19th century from Canada and the United States. The city of Provo, Utah was named for one, Étienne Provost, who visited the area in 1825. The city of Ogden, Utah was named after Peter Skene Ogden, a Canadian explorer who traded furs in the Weber Valley.
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