Grand County
About Grand County

Grand CountyGrand County is located in southeastern Utah and was originally named for the Colorado River, which at the time was known as the Grande River. Its county seat and largest city is Moab. As of 2000 the population was 8,485, and by 2005 it was estimated to be 8,743.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 9,568 km² (3,694 mi²). 9,535 km² (3,682 mi²) of it is land and 32 km² (13 mi²) of it (0.34%) is water. The Green River forms the western boundary and Colorado lies on the eastern boundary. The Colorado River flows through the southeastern corner. 

Grand County is situated on a geological province called the Colorado Plateau. The plateau is drained almost entirely by the Colorado River and its tributaries, which include the Little Colorado, Green, San Juan, and Dirty Devil rivers. Geographically, the Colorado Plateau is located almost entirely in Utah, with small sections extending into the adjacent states of Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado.  Composed mostly of sandstone and limestone, the plateau has been eroded by large rivers and other water and wind sources into huge canyons and other complex erosional forms that make it a rugged, but scenically spectacular, region.  Arches National Park, a red rock wonderland containing the world’s largest concentration of sandstone arches, is located entirely within the boundaries of Grand County.



3,694 square miles

8,743 (in 1995)

County Seat


  • Moab (city)
  • Castle Valley (town)
  • Cisco (ghost town)
  • Spanish Valley (suburb of Moab)


  • Total Area: 3,694 sq mi (9,568 km²)
  • Land Area: 3,682 sq mi (9,535 km²)
  • Water Area: 13 sq mi (32 km²), 0.34%

Moab, Utah
Aerial View of the City of Moab, located on the banks of the Colorado River.

The Grand County statistics in the following charts were compiled by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Agricultural Statistics Service, National Center for Health Statistics, and the U.S. Census Bureau on January 17, 2007.

Population Stats Grand County Utah
Population, 2005 estimate 8,743 2,469,585
Population, percent change, April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2005 4.3% 10.6%
Population, change, April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2005 363 236,387
Population, 2000 8,485 2,233,169
Persons under 5 years old, 2005 511 235,131
Persons under 5 years old, percent, 2005 5.8% 9.5%
Persons under 18 years old, 2005 2,036 742,556
Persons under 18 years old, percent, 2005 23.3% 30.1%
Persons 65 years old and over, percent, 2005 12.7% 8.7%
Persons 65 years old and over, 2005 1,110 216,021
Female persons, percent, 2005 50.2% 49.8%
White persons, 2005 (a) 8,164 2,316,141
Black persons, 2005 (a) 26 23,746
American Indian and Alaska Native persons, 2005 (a) 465 32,942
Asian persons, 2005 (a) 28 46,516
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, 2005 (a) 0 17,820
Persons reporting two or more races, 2005 60 32,420
Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin, 2005 (b) 573 268,234
White persons not Hispanic, 2005 7,614 2,063,237
White persons, percent, 2005 (a) 93.4% 93.8%
Black persons, percent, 2005 (a) 0.3% 1.0%
American Indian and Alaska Native persons, percent, 2005 (a) 5.3% 1.3%
Asian persons, percent, 2005 (a) 0.3% 1.9%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, percent, 2005 (a) 0.0% 0.7%
Persons reporting two or more races, percent, 2005 0.7% 1.3%
Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin, percent, 2005 (b) 6.6% 10.9%
White persons not Hispanic, percent, 2005 87.1% 83.5%
Births, 2003 96 49,860
Deaths, 2003 66 13,412
Infant deaths, 2003 1 249
Living in same house in 1995 and 2000, pct 5 yrs old & over 51.2% 49.3%
Foreign born persons, percent, 2000 3.0% 7.1%
Language other than English spoken at home, pct age 5+, 2000 8.7% 12.5%
High school graduates, percent of persons age 25+, 2000 82.5% 87.7%
Bachelor's degree or higher, pct of persons age 25+, 2000 22.9% 26.1%
Persons with a disability, age 5+, 2000 1,488 298,686
Mean travel time to work (minutes), workers age 16+, 2000 15.0 21.3
Housing units, 2005 4,437 873,097
Housing units, net change, April 1, 2000 to July, 2005 423 104,494
Housing units, percent change, April 1, 2000 to July, 2005 10.5% 13.6%
Homeownership rate, 2000 71.0% 71.5%
Median value of owner-occupied housing units, 2000 $112,700 $146,100
Households, 2000 3,434 701,281
Persons per household, 2000 2.44 3.13
Median household income, 2003 $31,604 $46,709
Persons below poverty, percent, 2003 13.9% 10.0%


Business Stats Grand County Utah
Personal income, 2004 ($1000) 199,357 64,398,905
Personal income per capita, 2004 $22,949 $26,603
Civilian labor force, 2005 5,631 1,268,075
Unemployment rate, 2005 5.8% 4.3%
Full-time and part-time employment by place of work, 2004 5,862 1,445,507
Full-time and part-time employment, net change 2000 to 2004 67 57,660
Employment in government, 2004 868 215,223
Earnings, 2004 ($1000) 143,230 53,256,554
Average earnings per job, 2004 $24,434 $36,843
Private nonfarm establishments, 2004 403 62,8341
Private nonfarm employment, 2004 2,901 935,1261
Private nonfarm employment, percent change 2000-2004 2.3% 2.0%1
Total number of firms, 2002 1,120 193,003
Black-owned firms, percent, 2002 NA 0.3%
American Indian and Alaska Native owned firms, percent, 2002 NA 0.6%
Asian-owned firms, percent, 2002 NA 1.5%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander owned firms, percent, 2002 NA 0.2%
Women-owned firms, percent, 2002 27.4% 25.1%
Hispanic-owned firms, percent, 2002 NA 2.7%
Manufacturers shipments, 2002 ($1000) NA 25,104,045
Accommodation and foodservices sales, 2002 ($1000) 43,724 2,984,632
Wholesale trade sales, 2002 ($1000) 13,537 22,905,100
Retail sales, 2002 ($1000) 88,307 23,675,432
Retail sales per capita, 2002 $10,221 $10,206
Building permits, 2005 144 27,799
Farm land, 2002 (acres) 52,729 11,731,228
Federal spending, 2004 ($1000) 55,815 13,683,6231
Federal spending per capita, 2004 $6,407 $5,7281


Geography MapStats Grand County Utah
Land area, 2000 (square miles) 3,681 82,143
Persons per square mile, 2000 2.3 27.2
FIPS Code 019 49
Metropolitan or Micropolitan Statistical Area None  

(a) Includes persons reporting only one race.
(b) Hispanics may be of any race, so also are included in applicable race categories.

Figures are in absolute numbers unless otherwise indicated.

FN: Footnote on this item for this area in place of data
NA: Not available
D: Suppressed to avoid disclosure of confidential information
X: Not applicable
S: Suppressed; does not meet publication standards
Z: Value greater than zero but less than half unit of measure shown
F: Fewer than 100 firms

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis, Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Agricultural Statistics Service, National Center for Health Statistics, and the U.S. Census Bureau. Revised: Wednesday, 17-Jan-2007

Grand County History

Archeological evidence suggests that the Moab area and surrounding country was inhabited by ancient Indians, called Anasazi (Navajo for the ancient ones), perhaps as early as 10,000 years ago. The present town of Moab sits on the ruins of pueblo farming communities dating from the 11th and 12th centuries. The Anasazi Indians left in the middle of the 13th century for unknown reasons. Nomadic Ute tribes greeted the first Europeans to arrive in the Canyonlands area.

In 1855 Mormon missionaries attempted to settle the area and established the Elk Mountain Mission but a Ute Indian attack forced the mission to close after only three months. For the next three decades the future site of Moab was used intermittently by trappers, prospectors, and cattleman. Permanent settlement was not achieved until the 1870's.

The first people to settle in the fertile Spanish Valley, named after the "Old Spanish Trail" which ran through it, were the Mormon pioneers in 1877. These early settlers, coming in from the north, encountered the deep canyon walls of the Grand River (officially renamed the Colorado River in May, 1921) and were unable to take wagons over, or around, the steep canyon walls. They unloaded their supplies, took their wagons apart, and lowered them by rope over the ledge one piece at a time. They then drove their oxen over a high, rocky canyon rim and lead them down deep sand dunes to the wagon parts. After the wagons were reassembled and supplies reloaded, they made their way through sand almost one foot deep until they came to the river. They then had to find a place that was free of quicksand, yet shallow enough to permit them to cross this large and treacherous river. This crossing was made below the present river bridge and it is where settlers later put in a ferry, which served as the only means across the river, until a bridge was built in 1911.

In 1881 the area was known as Grand Valley and early on Moab had a "wild west" reputation. A prospector who visited Moab in 1891 reported that it was known as the toughest town in Utah because the area and surrounding country has many deep canyons, rivers, mountains and wilderness areas. It became a favorite hideout for many outlaw gongs. Among the most infamous of outlaws to hide out in the area were Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch.

The settlement grew slowly, its economy based on farming end ranching. During the 1890's as mining began and the railroad was built, the valleys population grew to about 19 different Communities and villages.

In 1881 construction began on the first school in Grand County. It was a rough hewn log cabin, with a log and willow roof. In the winter a potbellied stove served as the only heat. By 1890, Moab had two schools and in 1896 a high school was built. Today, Moab has two elementary schools, one middle school and one high school.

The fruit growing industry began about 1879 when Mrs. A. G. Wilson, one of the early Mormon settlers. Planted some peach pits that she had brought with her. By 1910 Moab was producing some of the biggest and best fruit in the west. Today, melons, peaches, grapes, apples and pears grow in abundance.

Grand county was formed from part of Emery County and legally become Grand County on March 13,1890. Moab became an incorporated city in 1902, but was not recognized by the State of Utah as such until 1937 when it had grown to a population 800.

Oil exploration in the 1920's led to the development of the Moab Oil Field. Riches from the black gold failed to materialize, but oil exploration was continued and has contributed significantly to the local economy.

In 1949 John Ford discovered Grand County's magnificent and diversified scenery, which he used as settings for some his great western movie classics. Moab has continued its romance with Hollywood for five decades, hosting some of the greatest directors and star of the cinema.

Discovery of uranium in 1952 began an era of mineral extraction in the county, swelling the population from 3,000 to nearly 10,000 residents in just three years. Potash, salt mining and milling operations added to the local economy until 1983 when the market for uranium dropped. Most mining and milling operations ceased at that time.

Today Grand County is working to diversify its economy by targeting light manufacturing, tourism and recreation, the fine arts, educational programs, television and motion picture production, agricultural, and the development of natural resources.

People who visit the red rock country have always asked how Moab got its name. The Ute Indian tribe called the green oasis, "Mohapa", meaning mosquito water. Moab, Utah's only town located on the Colorado River, was also subsequently known to Anglo settlers as Elk Mountain Mission, Mormon Fort and Grand Valley. It is to William Pierce that credit given for suggesting "Moab" as a name for the frontier outpost.

Regional Map

Grand County Ghost Towns and Communities

During the 1890's the area now known as Grand County was dotted with many small villages and communities. Other then Moab, only two remain, Cisco and Thompson.

One of the first towns in the area was called Plainsfield. It probably would have become a part of Moab, but it was just inside the San Juan county line. Little is left as evidence of its existence.

East from Moab, on Wilson Mesa in the La Sal Mountains, was the little village called Mesa. The town of Pinhook, also in the La Sal Mountains, was a tent village. On June 15, 1881 a bloody battle was fought between the village and a hostile band of Indians. Eight white men were buried at the site In one large grave. A historical marker has been erected on this spot.

Up the Colorado River road (Highway 128) from Moab was the community of Castleton, which once vied with Moab for the county seat. This was a small mining town of over 100 people in the early 1890's and was the hub of activity for ranches and other small villages in the area. Little remains today of the town that once boasted two saloons, one hotel, two grocery stores, a post office and a school.

Miners Basin, which was up the road from Castleton, had a small population of miners. These men, during the 1890's, found rich veins of gold, copper, and silver. Up the river from Moab was the town of Dewey, which today is known by the old cable suspension bridge built in 1916 across the Colorado River. Today, travelers cross the river on a new bridge built in 1987. Near the Colorado border, in the vicinity of Dewey, were the communities known as Picture Gallery, Cisco, and Westwater. West of Cisco in the Cisco desert, Harley Dome, Danish Flat, Agate and Crystal Carbon were towns that sprang up as a result of the railroad.

North of Thompson was the coal community of Sego. Just north of Moab, along the highway, was a town called Valley City. In western Grand County, along the east bank of the Green River, was the farming community of Elgin, which was well known for the many acres of locally grown peach orchards.

Not much remains of these old towns and communities today, so only history is left to tell their tales.

Grand County Mining History

The following excerpts were taken from an article by Elizabeth Pope which appeared in McCalls Magazine in December, 1956. It is a reflection of the times, the town, and its people during the 1950's boom:

The red buttes and mesas around Moab produce 95% of the uranium ore. Uranium, in its purest state, is worth 35 times as much as gold. Four years ago (1952) Moab was a sleepy farming village 35 miles from a railroad and 135 miles from a recognized airport. Today (1956) Moab is the uranium capitol of the world

The story begins one July day in 1953, when a wildly screaming prospector came running across the desert up the yard of his trailer home. His wife heard him yelling and came to the door in time to see him charge her clothes line and stand there shrieking her name, not bothering to pick up the ruined wash. At first the women was angry, then she was scared. Her husband was a quiet man. Maybe after all those months the desert sun and the constant disappointments had been to much for him.

The man's name was Charlie Steen, a geologist from Texas, who for two heartbreaking years had been searching the Moab desert for the massive deposits of uranium ore he was sure were there. The strike he had just made, which cost his wife a weeks wash, is now valued at upwards of $100 million and has become one of the richest mines on the continent.

Steen's strike had come just in time. That morning his borrowed drill had broken down, and Steen with his equipment worn out, money gone, credit exhausted, family in rags, had decided to give up the struggle. But because he was a stubborn man, he had borrowed a Geiger counter to test the core from his last drilling. At a depth of 173 feet, the Geiger counter went mad. Charlie Steen was a Millionaire

In the three years since his strike, Moab has become a city of Millionaires. At it's brand new Uranium Club, housed in a hideous concrete fortress on the edge of town, members can name at least 20 other lucky townspeople who ere worth a million or ere within easy reach of it.

County Holidays

All County offices are closed on the following days:

January 1, 2014
- New Year's Day
January 20, 2014
- Martin Luther King, Jr Day
February 17, 2014
- Presidents Day
May 26, 2014
- Memorial Day
July 4, 2014
- Independence Day
July 24, 2014
- Pioneer Day
September 1, 2014
- Labor Day
November 11, 2014
- Veterans Day
November 27-28, 2014
- Thanksgiving
December 24 & 25, 2014
- Christmas
January 1, 2015
- New Years Day

Grand County Map
Grand County Map


Building Inspector
Children's Justice Center
County Council/Administrator
Dom. Violence Victims Adv.
Emergency Management
Emergency Medical Services
Grand Center
Human Resources
Old Spanish Trail Arena
Planning & Engineering
Public Defender
R.S.V.P. & Volunteer Center
Road Department
Sand Flats Rec. Area
Sheriff's Office
Star Hall
Travel Council
Weed Department

Grand Center
Grand Center

Grand County Library
Grand County Public Library

Old Spanish Trail Arena
Old Spanish Trail Arena

External Grand County Links

Arches National Park
A red rock wonderland containing some of the most scenic and inspiring landscapes on Earth, Arches National Park contains the world's largest concentration of natural sandstone arches.

Canyonlands National Park
Canyonlands is the largest national park in the state, and its diversity staggers the imagination. It is divided into three districts by the Green and Colorado Rivers - the Island in the Sky, the Needles and the Maze. Grand County is the gateway to the Island in the Sky District.

City of Moab
The official government website of the City of Moab.

Moab Tourism
The official tourism website for Grand County and Moab.

Grand County Directory
Click here to download a copy of the latest Grand County Phone Directory containing listings of emergency numbers, health services, local government/community/social services, state and national information services, support groups and help lines.