About San Juan County
San Juan County, located in the southeast corner of Utah, is an arid land shaped by the Colorado River which forms its western border. Cutting through an ancient seafloor, the river dug a gorge thousands of feet deep. Just thirty miles east of the river stand the Abajo Mountains, reaching above 11,000 feet in elevation and some 8000 feet above the water level below. This tremendous difference in elevation, combined with the arid climate, has produced a terrain tortured by steep slopes, narrow canyons, cliffs and yawning chasms.
Mormon pioneers made the difficult crossing into this area from 1878 to 1880, arriving in Bluff first and settling Monticello in 1888. On the east side of the Abajo Mountains they found farmland which had not been carved up and eroded by the river, as well as water flowing from the mountains.
It occupies the large area of 7,725 square miles with a population density of fewer than 2 persons per square mile. Towns are small and far apart. In ancient times the area was inhabited by Indians who left their traces at Hovenweep National Monument and locations scattered throughout the area.