An explanation of the locations and desirability of hiking trails in Utah, with a preference to the southern part of the state, especially Grand and San Juan counties.  So put on your hiking boots and get ready to go hiking !!  This post also includes some personal information of the two towns.



Moab is the county seat of Grand County, in the state of Utah.  Moab was originally settled by LDS pioneers, and many of them were polygamists.

Monticello is the county seat of San Juan County, in the state of Utah.  There has always been much visiting  between the towns, as would be expected in such close proximity.  The towns share much of the same history and heritage.  Monticello has not the beauty of national parks that Moab encompasses and therefore, has not been the boom town that Moab is.  However, the Uranium discoveries in the area made  a big impact on Monticello.

I, personally did not have a “boyfriend  in Monticello, as many of my friends did, but I I did have a boyfriend in Blanding for about a year.  BUT, we both decided that the long distance (80 miles) relationship was not very desirable.  However, I did go to the Jr. Prom in Moab with him when I was  a sophomore.

Brown’s Hole is in San Juan County, and many  of the occurrences in the book “Bill Tibbetts, the Last of the Robber’s Roost Outlaws”, by Tom McCourt, took place in San Juan County.


When I was about a junior in high school, I was pretty good at playing the clarinet.  If you can play a clarinet, you can play a saxophone, as one register of them is the same.  (Right, Spencer, my music teacher Grandson?)

Because I was good on the clarinet, the members of the local (he only band in town besides Ag and Krug) decided I could play in the band if I would get a saxophone.  Ag and Krug played great music, but our band was more appropriate for the younger crowd.

My parents sent out to Montgomery Ward (or Sears) catalog and soon I was the proud owner and player of a beautiful King saxaphone.  The case was lined with orange velvet, and I thought it was exquisite and I took very good care of it.  AND I became quite proficient in playing it.  My grandson, Spencer, is now the proud owner of the saxophone, and he is also the owner of some of the other instruments played in this band.

I did become a member of the big band, which consisted of my sister, Dorothy on the piano, (later it was Lily Ann Hoffman, (after Dorothy went off to college), Dorothy Mc Dougall Markle and myself on Saxaphones,  Jerry Walker, (my future ex-husband), and his brother, Jimmy Walker on trombones, and Wally Somerville on cornet and Freddie Markle on drums.  We were quite the musical group, and played the music of the day, which included Big Band numbers and ballads.

One number we played and one the dancers loved was Glenn Miller’s arrangement of “In the Mood”  However, there was one measure that was a little difficult for all of us.  So we would yell it:  Zip a Doo Dee Ay (thump, thump from the drums), zip a Doo Dee Ay (again thump, thump) then it was on with the arrangement.

When my sister, Dorothy, wanted to dance, I had to fill in on the piano for her.  I was not very good on the piano,( in spite of my Grandmother, Mamo, paying for years of lessons from Mrs. Baldwin.)  The only number I could manage very well was “Spanish Eyes.”  To this day  Dorothy says she was a good dancer, but she could only dance to Spanish Eyes.  We made a few of old time recordings, and had them stored in cupboards of the house in Moab, but they were thrown away during one of our mother’s house cleanings

Another memory is the name of our Big Band.  Because the Markles ( Dorothy and Freddie), were often “expecting” we started calling the band Wally Somerville and his 7 1/2.

Monticello had a colder climate  than Moab, and travelling there and over the icy Blue Hill was a nightmare.  There were usually 7 of us in a little coupe, with all our instruments, including drums.  But we all loved music, and we loved playing it, and we each made $10.00 for each “gig”.  We had a monopoly in Southern Utah, and also played in Greenriver, Thompson and Blanding.  We even played once in the Silver Moon in Thompson.  (A long forgotten landmark.)

                             The La Sals

THE  BLUE MOUNTAINS  (partly from Wikapedia)

The correct name for the Blue Mountains is the “Abajo” Mountains.  Abajo is a fitting name for them, because Abajo means “small” in Spanish. The Abajo (Blue) mountains are a small mountain range west of Monticello, Utah, south of Canyonlands National Park, and north of Blanding.  The highest peak is Abaj0 Peak, at 11,360 ft.

The Blue Mountains are part of the Colorado Plateau, and are not considered part of the  Rockies.


Approximately half way between Moab and Monticello, you will pass Church Rock, a huge sandstone formation that does definitely resemble a church.

Travelling from Moab to Monticello, about 15 miles into the trip, you will pass Kane Springs Park, a  great place for hiking, with only a short walk to a big sandstone rock with footsteps carved into it.  A great hiking location, and children love it.

Drive a little farther and on the left you will pass the Brown’s Hole dirt road, and it ends at a dead end at the foot of the La Sal’s.  You will soon pass the Wilson Arch.  My son, Kirk Hawley, has written great lyrics and published a CD about the Wilson family.  It is titled “Left for Dead” and is available on Amazon.

This concludes my post about Moab and Monticello, Utah.  It is my hope that the post has given you some further knowledge of the history of Southern Utah, and also has broadened your interest in the many hiking trails of the area.

Thank you for reading “The Hiking Trails of Utah”.

Janice Gustafson



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