About the Forest
Welcome to the Manti-La Sal National Forest!
Today the forest offers people a retreat from the hurry of modern life. Those who seek solitude and quiet can find it here. Intrepid adventurers will discover mountains to scale, trails to explore, waters to fish, and woods where they can hunt. Scenic byways and backways summon motorists looking for stunning vistas, and abundant camping areas are perfect for creating family traditions.
Did you know the forest's name is named for a Book of Mormon city (Manti), and the “white” mountain tops that reminded Spanish-speaking explorers of the salt (La Sal)?
The deep sandstone canyons, mountaintops, meadows, lakes and streams of the Manti-La Sal National Forest have beckoned people for ages. Evidence of prehistoric and historic life is found throughout the four islands of the forest. From the Abajos and La Sals in southeastern Utah to the Wasatch Plateau and Sanpitch Mountains hundreds of miles away in central Utah, the diverse and scenic landscapes are rich with fossils, cliff dwellings, historic waterways, and old mines.
Here's some fun facts about the forest:
- The Dark Canyon Wilderness is the only designated wilderness in southeastern Utah’s canyon country.
- The Forest habitat provides for the densest black bear and largest elk population in Utah.
- The Manti-La Sal National Forest is the source of 85% of the coal mined in Utah.
- The Abajo mountain range was below the fords for the Colorado and Green Rivers so the Spanish named it Abajo, for “below.”
- The Sanpitch mountains are named for a Ute leader who lived in the 1700s, originally called San Pedro, corrupted to San Pete and San Peesch -- the term eventually became Sanpitch.
Manti-La Sal National Forest stretches from central Utah to southeastern Utah and into Colorado. The 1,413,111-acre forest is managed for multiple uses such as range, timber, minerals, water, wildlife, and recreation. Manti-La Sal is made up of three primary land areas: the Manti Division, the La Sal Division at Moab, and the La Sal Division at Monticello.
The Manti Division is part of the remnant Wasatch Plateau (5,000 to 10,000 foot elevation) exhibiting high elevation lakes, diverse vegetation, near vertical escarpments, and areas of scenic and geologic interest.
On the La Sal Division-Moab, mountain peaks (12,000 foot elevation), canyons, and forest add climatic and scenic contrast to the hot red-rock landscape of Arches (5,000 foot elevation) and Canyonlands National Parks.
The La Sal Division-Monticello offers timbered slopes to provide a welcome middle ground and background contrast to the sand and heat of Canyonlands National Park, Natural Bridges National Monument, and the surrounding desert. Pictographs, petroglyphs, and stone dwellings are evidence of past civilizations.
The mountain and desert landscapes of the Manti-La Sal National Forest hold secrets of the people who came before, containing over 5,000 known archaeological sites that date between 10,000 years ago and the mid-1900s. These places offer windows into the vibrant and complex communities that thrived in the rugged landscapes of the forest. During much of this era, people made their living entirely from the resources of the land. They also had wide social networks and depended on each other for trade goods and information about the world around them.
Both the Manti and La Sal National Forests were created at the request of local communities who depended on the forests for livestock forage, lumber, minerals, and water. At the turn of the century, water sometimes came in the form of catastrophic summer floods that tore through towns below the forests. Communities recognized that overgrazing was causing soil erosion and subsequent flooding, and that thoughtful management was needed to ensure continued resource use. The two forests merged in 1949. The event was celebrated with a mock shotgun wedding at Joes Valley in 1950.
Check out a more detailed history of the Manti-La Sal here.