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San Juan County is a county located in the southeastern portion of the state of Utah. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 14,746.
Its county seat is Monticello, while its most populous city is Blanding. The county was named by the Utah State Legislature for the San Juan
San Juan County borders Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico at the Four Corners.
The county was named by the Utah State Legislature for the San Juan River, itself named by Spanish explorers (in honor of Saint John).
County QuickFacts: CensusBureau Quick Facts
In prehistoric times the San Juan country was the home of the Anasazi until about 1300 A.D. Their cliff houses, pictographs, and petroglyphs continue to baffle and fascinate visitors. The Basketmakers, the earliest phase of the Anasazi Culture, were first identified and studied in Grand Gulch. The Navajo Indians, who were latecomers to the area, now occupy a large part of San Juan County from the San Juan River to the Arizona border. Although there were a few white residents along the San Juan River before 1879, the Mormon scouts who planned the famous Hole-in-the-Rock Trail that year began the full-scale settlement of San Juan County. The 180 pioneers who left Escalante in the fall of that year arrived at the present site of Bluff on April 6, 1880.Farming along the San Juan River bottoms was a chancy proposition, for the treacherous river either flooded or went dry too often for dependable irrigation. Early cattlemen like the brothers Al and Jim Scorup did better in the rough canyon country than the farmers. After a decade of fighting the elements many settlers discovered that life was somewhat easier in the high country around the Abajo Mountains, and the towns of Blanding and Monticello replaced Bluff as San Juan's main focal points.Mining has been an inconsistent but exciting part of the economy of the county. A gold rush on the San Juan River in the early l890s was short-lived, but miners in Glen Canyon of the Colorado eked a better living from deposits along the river bars. Oil and gas exploration around the turn of the century was productive, and one can still see wells operating along the San Juan River. The uranium boom of the early l950s brought large numbers of people into the area and created a few large fortunes.At present most residents see tourism as their most promising economic resource, particularly since the creation of Lake Powell in the early 1960s. Rainbow Bridge is the most popular tourist attraction in the county, but the marinas at Hite, Hall's Crossing, and Piute Farms draw large numbers of visitors, and river trips through Cataract Canyon and on the San Juan are also popular.
*Sources: Beehive History 14: Utah Counties. 1988. Utah State Historical Society, 300 Rio Grande, Salt Lake City, UT 84101-1182.
As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 7,933 square miles (20,547 km2), of which
7,820 mi² (20,254 km2) is land and 113 mi² (292 km2) (1.42%) is water. There are roughly 2 residents per square
mile. The county's western and southern boundaries lie deep within gorges carved by the Colorado and San Juan
Rivers. Tributary canyons, cutting through rock layers of the surrounding deserts, have carved the land up with
chasms, cliffs and plateaus. In the center of the county are Cedar Mesa, Comb Wash, Natural Bridges and
Hovenweep National Monuments. Canyonlands National Park is primarily within the county borders. The Eastern side
of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area / Lake Powell in also in San Juan County. Rising above all, the Blue (Abajo)
Mountains reach to nearly 12,000 feet (3,700 m) and the La Sal Mountains rise to 13,000 feet (4,000 m). Both
ranges are covered with lush forests vividly contrasting with the scenery below. The elevation change within the
county is from near 13,000 feet (4,000 m) in the La Sal Mountains to 3,000 feet (910 m) at Lake Powell, an
elevation change of 10,000 feet (3,000 m). The county is cut by deep and spectacular canyons, red rock and
mountain meadows, desert, and evergreen forest. The towns run primarily on a north/south axis along US Highways
191 and 163 from La Sal in the north to Monument Valley in the south.
Bordering counties are as follows: