The two-dimensional seismic response of the Salt Lake valley to near- and far-field earthquakes has been investigated from simulations of vertically incident plane waves and from normal-faulting earthquakes generated on the basin-bounding Wasatch fault. The response to normal faulting earthquakes was simulated using a two-dimensional finite-element method and the plane-wave response was calculated from two-dimensional finite-difference simulations. The plane-wave simulations were then compared with observed site amplifications in the Salt Lake valley, based on seismic recordings from nuclear explosions in southern Nevada, that show 10 times greater amplification within the basin than measured values on hard-rock sites. While previous studies attribute this increased site amplification to the near-surface unconsolidated/consolidated alluvial fill contact, our synthetic seismograms suggest that in the frequency band 0.3 to 1.5 Hz at least one-half the site amplification can be attributed to the impedance contrast between the basin sediments and higher velocity basement rocks. Synthetic seismograms from vertically incident plane-wave sources and buried double-couple sources predict large amplitude Rayleigh-wave propagation from the edges of the basin and, in general, uniform site amplification. In contrast, near-field simulations of basin-bounding, normal-faulting earthquakes predict large-amplitude Rayleigh waves propagating westward from the fault across the basin. Spectra of synthetic accelerograms computed from the normal-faulting earthquakes shows that spectral amplification within the basin is primarily due to source directivity with a maxima near the surface projection of the fault that decays rapidly away from the fault. Importantly, the synthetic modeling of near-field earthquake sources show that near-field directivity effects are important and should be considered in an earthquake hazard assessment of the Salt Lake valley and similar geologic settings along the Wasatch Front.