The state's name comes from the Ute tribe, who were the original inhabitants of the region. The word "Ute" means "land of the sun" or "people of the mountains."
San Juan County, located in southeastern Utah, is a region rich in history and cultural significance. The area has long been inhabited by Native American tribes, with evidence of human presence dating back thousands of years. The Ancestral Puebloans, also known as the Anasazi, populated the region around 2,000 years ago and left a lasting mark on the landscape through their impressive cliff dwellings and rock art.

European exploration of the area began in the 18th century, when Spanish missionaries and explorers ventured into what is now San Juan County. The Spanish presence was limited, however, and it wasn't until the early 19th century that the region was explored by American fur trappers and traders. The Old Spanish Trail, used for trade between Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Los Angeles, California, passed through the county during this time.

In the latter half of the 19th century, San Juan County became a focal point of conflict between Mormon settlers and Native American tribes. The Navajo Wars of the 1860s and 1870s resulted in the forced removal of the Navajo people from the area, followed by the establishment of Mormon settlements. In 1880, the town of Monticello was founded, becoming the first permanent settlement in the county.

The discovery of valuable minerals in the early 20th century, primarily uranium and oil, brought economic growth and development to San Juan County. Mining operations attracted a diverse population, including many Native Americans who sought employment in the industry. However, the decline in demand for uranium in the 1980s led to an economic downturn and depopulation of some communities. Today, San Juan County remains an area of natural beauty and cultural significance, drawing visitors with its stunning landscapes and rich history.

This timeline provides a condensed summary of the historical journey of San Juan County, Utah.

  • 1880: San Juan County is created.
  • 1886: Mormon pioneers settle in the Bluff area.
  • 1892: Bears Ears Buttes become a significant landmark in the region.
  • 1920s: Uranium mining starts in the county.
  • 1950s: Construction of the Glen Canyon Dam begins.
  • 1964: Lake Powell is created behind the completed Glen Canyon Dam.
  • 1970s: The Native American population in the county asserts its rights to ancestral lands.
  • 2016: Bears Ears National Monument is designated by President Barack Obama.
  • 2020: The boundaries of Bears Ears National Monument are reduced by President Donald Trump.