Forests and Mountains of Utah
Utah Forests & Mountains

Utah Forests Excellent opportunities for cross-country skiing, hiking, and exploration in the Manti La Sal National Forest. For more information, visit the Manti La Sal National Forest web site.

Dark Canyon Wilderness

Paved access from Monticello, Blanding, and Utah Highway 95. Graded gravel and native surface roads on the mountain itself.
  • Adjacent to Dark Canyon Primitive Area managed by the BLM
  • Back-country experience for seasoned hikers
  • No Services

Harts Draw Road
Paved loop drive from Monticello to Utah Highway 211 and access to Canyonlands National Park. Through aspen groves and pine forests with sweeping views

All are accessible to all vehicles.
Reservations: 877-444-6777
Ranger Programs
  • Dalton Springs
  • Buckboard
  • Devil's Canyon
  • Nizhoni
Many well marked and maintained hiking trails of varying difficulty are accessible via graded gravel and native surface roads. Contact the San Juan County Visitor Center for detailed information at 800-574-4386.



Manti La Sal National Forest

The Manti-La Sal National Forest covers more than 1.2 million acres of diverse landscape in central and southeastern Utah, from timbered alpine mountain peaks to the untamed Dark Canyon Wilderness Area. The forest is defined by three distinct districts: the La Sal District at Moab (La Sal Mountains), the La Sal District at Monticello (Abajo Mountains/Dark Canyon Wilderness Area), and the Manti Division (Wasatch Plateau). The national forest was originally established as the Manti Forest Reserve in 1903 and after a series of name changes was officially designated as Manti-La Sal National Forest in 1958. Ranger offices are located in Moab and Monticello.
With more than 1,600 miles of streams, 8,100 acres of lakes, and hundreds of miles of hiking, biking, horseback riding, cross-country skiing and off-road trails there are boundless opportunities to get out and explore Manti-La Sal National Forest. More than 5,000 archaeological sites have been discovered throughout the forest, where 85-percent of Utah’s coal is mined.  The forest is named after a city in the Book of Mormon and the Spanish word for salt.


La Sal Mountains

The La Sal Mountains are located twenty miles south of Moab. Part of the Rocky Mountains and Manti-La Sal National Forest, they are Utah’s second highest mountain range. More than a dozen mountains in the range have peaks above 12,000 feet, with Mount Peale the highest at 12,721 feet.
The La Sal Mountains reside on the Colorado Plateau along with the Abajo and Henry mountain ranges. All three ranges are roughly 25 million years old, significantly younger than nearby ranges, and were formed by igneous rocks and the erosion of sedimentary rocks from the Permian and Cretaceous periods. The La Sal Mountains are named for the Spanish word for salt.
The compact range is only 15 miles long and six miles wide, but outdoor enthusiasts head to the La Sals year-round for sightseeing, hiking, biking, off-roading, camping, photography, trout fishing and more. The La Sal Mountain Loop Road (FR-062) is a great way to explore the range. The 60-mile paved scenic loop begins six miles south of Moab on U.S. Highway 191, traversing the timbered mountains with expansive views of the red rock desert below and mountain peaks above. Changes in flora reflect the altitude, climbing past pinyon and juniper trees to Ponderosa pines and quaking aspens, with spruce and fir trees at the highest elevations. La Sal Mountain Loop Road loops from Moab to Castle Valley, Geyser Pass, and back again. Tight turns near Castle Valley may prove difficult for large RVs to maneuver. There are several overlooks and spur roads along the loop that lead to pretty lakes and off-road trails. Geyser Pass Road leads to Oowah Lake for excellent trout fishing, and a five-mile graded dirt road leads to popular Warner Lake. The La Sal Mountain Loop Road loops back to Moab shortly after the Warner Lake Turnoff.


Abajo Mountains

The Abajo Mountains, also known as the Blue Mountains, are a small mountain range located west of Monticello and north of Blanding. Although “Abajo” means low in Spanish, the range peaks at 11,362 feet at Abajo Peak. Scenic drives lead through the pleasant mountain scenery, climbing out of the red rock desert and into the aspen- and fir-timbered peaks.  The Abajo Loop crosses the mountain range, peaking around 9,000 feet and ending on the north side of the range near SR-211 near Canyonlands National Park. South Creek Road, a spur road on the Abjao Loop, continues to the top of Abajo Peak for views of Canyonlands National Park and southeastern Utah. The Elk Ridge Road Scenic Backway (FR-079) near Natural Bridges National Monument climbs over 8,700 feet in elevation onto Elk Ridge, and through the Bear’s Ears formations. The Trail of the Ancients, a sub-alpine mountain biking trail, begins near Bear’s Ear Pass and follows along Elk Ridge. Rich in Anasazi history, ancient cliff dwellings and petroglyphs can be found throughout the Abajo Mountains, particularly at the secluded Arch Canyon. Anglers seeking alpine solitude will find a few small lakes such as Lloyd’s, Foy, and Monticello lakes with decent trout fishing. The remote and primitive Dark Canyon Wilderness Area is located nearby.