Wayne County lies entirely within the colorful Colorado Plateau geographical province. It includes portions of Capitol Reef and Canyonlands National Parks. The Fremont River flows south from Fish Lake and then east to join the Dirty Devil, a tributary of the Colorado River. Scientists have identified the remains of extinct Pleistocene species such as the mammoth, bison and camel. Horseshoe Canyon and the Maze section of Canyonlands National Park contain spectacular pictographs. In historic times, the county was part of the Ute Indians’ domain.
Wayne was created in 1892 from Piute County. Most towns were settled after 1880 because of the remote location. Raising livestock is the oldest and most important industry. Until good roads were built in the 1930s, stock was driven some 100 miles north to the railroad at Nephi. Cattle rustling by the notorious Robbers Roost gang threatened ranchers until the late 1890s. The lumber industry and in more recent years, tourism are sources of income for local residents.
During the Depression the Works Progress Administration provided funds to build a county courthouse in Loa. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), another federal program during the depression, operated three camps in the county and built roads, campgrounds and small water projects.
Today, the towns of Torrey, Grover and Hanksville welcome visitors who drive to the national parks and to Lake Powell, as well as a well-known artists’ community that draws inspiration from the spectacular scenery.