Wayne County is located in the southern region of Utah and is one of its least populated counties. It was named after General Anthony Wayne, a Revolutionary War hero, and was established in 1892. The county consists of sprawling plateaus, ridges, mountains, hillsides, and canyons that offer stunning views for those wishing to explore.
The area that is now Wayne County was originally inhabited by Native American tribes such as the Ute, Paiute, and Navajo. The settlers of this area were primarily ranchers who believed in the value of hard work and self-reliance. This spirit still lingers today throughout much of the county.
Despite its rural nature, Wayne County has plenty of attractions for visitors to explore. One popular destination is Capitol Reef National Park, which features a variety of wildlife and geologic formations that are sure to keep any nature lover busy. Nearby Goblin Valley State Park is also a great spot for outdoor recreation, offering a variety of activities such as camping, fishing, hiking trails, and even rock climbing.
Located within the scenic Colorado Plateau, Wayne County is home to magnificent national parks like Capitol Reef and Canyonlands. The county is traversed by the Fremont River, which flows from Fish Lake down to the Dirty Devil, ultimately joining the iconic Green River that forms the county's eastern border.
Wayne County holds a rich historical and paleontological significance. Fossils of ancient creatures from the Pleistocene era, including sloths, horses, bison, and camels, have been discovered here. Additionally, the region boasts Archaic and Fremont Indian sites, such as the remarkable Cowboy Caves, which have been estimated to have been inhabited from 6300 B.C. to A.D. 450. Not to mention the awe-inspiring pictographs found in Horseshoe Canyon and the Maze area of Canyonlands.
In the past, Wayne County was part of the Ute Indians' domain, adding to its cultural significance. The county itself came into existence in May 1892, separated from Piute County. The towns within Wayne County were primarily settled after 1880 due to its remote location and limited resources.
The cattle industry has long been the backbone of Wayne County's economy, with beef production leading the way in terms of income generation. However, other livestock such as dairy cows, sheep, and poultry have also played their part in contributing to the local economy. Transporting cattle to the market used to be a challenge, with herds being driven over 100 miles to reach the nearest railway in Nephi. Later, with the construction of better roads in the 1930s, a Denver and Rio Grande branch line in neighboring Sevier County facilitated easier access to markets.
Wayne County is a sparsely populated county located in the south-central region of Utah. As an outdoor destination, it boasts some of the most stunning natural landscapes in the state. Its terrain consists of rugged mountains, canyons, and flat plateaus, providing breathtaking vistas for photographers and sightseers.
The county is largely cut off from the rest of Utah and its neighborly states by the Great Basin Desert. As such, it sees little precipitation throughout the year and has a hot desert climate, experiencing temperatures as high as 90°F in summertime and falling to lows of -20°F during winter months.
Places of Interest
Capitol Reef National Park
Capitol Reef National Park is a great destination for hikers, photographers, and nature lovers. The park offers stunning views of colorful sandstone cliffs and canyons and amazing rock formations such as the Waterpocket Fold. Visitors will have the opportunity to explore beautiful trails and even take on challenging slot canyon hikes.
Goblin Valley State Park
Goblin Valley State Park offers visitors a surreal landscape of hoodoo-like rock formations and an abundance of wildlife. It is the perfect spot for camping, rock climbing, and even bird-watching. During the day, visitors can explore the Goblin Valley and take in breathtaking views from the park's overlooks.
Planning a trip to Wayne County
When planning a trip to Wayne County, visitors should keep in mind that the county has limited access to public transportation. For this reason, bringing your own car or renting one locally is recommended.
Lodging options are limited, but a few motels in Hanksville and some campgrounds are scattered throughout the area. Also, don't forget to bring plenty of water as the area is very dry and hot during much of the year.
Local restaurants in Wayne County tend to serve traditional American fare, with a few Mexican and Italian options sprinkled in. There are also some markets and convenience stores scattered throughout the county that provide basic supplies.
The best time to visit Wayne County is during the spring and fall months when temperatures are more temperate and mild. Winter can be quite harsh, with snowfall that may hinder travel plans. Summertime can also be very uncomfortable due to the extreme heat.