The remote town of Hanksville Utah is about an hour’s drive from any other town in Capitol Reef Country. Middle and high school students travel 55 miles each way every day to school in Bicknell. Still this small town of 355 people, rich in folklore and history, thrives on tourism for travelers seeking a central location to explore Capitol Reef National Park, Goblin Valley State Park, the San Rafael Swell and Robber’s Roost. The town was officially incorporated in 1999.


Hanksville was first settled in 1882 and called “Grave’s Valley” after a member of the Powell expeditions. The settlement, which lies at an elevation of 4300 feet, was renamed Hanksville in 1885 for Mormon pioneer leader Ebenezer Hanks. Agriculture and mining were the primary roles of the community but outlaws such as Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch often came to Hanksville for supplies while hiding out in the nearby canyons. Hanksville was also a main supplier for uranium prospectors in the 1940s and 50s. Hanksville’s uranium and gold booms have long since ended, but the area is still rich in dinosaur fossils which are frequently uncovered at the Hanksville-Burpee Quarry. Seven miles from Hanksville, the Mars Desert Research Station is a testing area to explore similarities in the terrain between Earth and the Red Planet. Crew and equipment simulation tests occur during the winter months. The BLM also keeps offices in Hanksville.

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