Geography of Emery County, Utah

Emery County, located in the heart of Utah, is a region known for its diverse geography, stunning landscapes, and rich cultural heritage. From its rugged mountains and deep canyons to its winding rivers and expansive deserts, Emery County offers a wide array of natural wonders to explore. In this comprehensive exploration, we will delve into the geography, climate, rivers, lakes, and other notable features that define Emery County.


According to Printerhall, Emery County spans an area of approximately 4,470 square miles (11,580 square kilometers) and is situated in central Utah. It is bordered by several other counties, including Carbon County to the north, Sanpete County to the northeast, and Wayne County to the south. The county is characterized by its diverse topography, which includes mountains, plateaus, deserts, and canyons.

The geography of Emery County is shaped by several major geological formations, including the Wasatch Plateau to the west and the San Rafael Swell to the east. These geological features contribute to the county’s rugged terrain, with elevations ranging from around 4,500 feet (1,372 meters) in the valleys to over 12,000 feet (3,658 meters) in the mountains.

The county seat of Emery County is the city of Castle Dale, while other notable communities include Huntington, Ferron, and Green River. These towns and villages are situated along the county’s network of roads and highways, which provide access to the surrounding wilderness areas and national parks.


Emery County experiences a semi-arid climate, characterized by hot, dry summers and cold, snowy winters. The region’s climate is influenced by its inland location and high elevation, with weather patterns shaped by continental air masses and prevailing westerly winds.

Summers in Emery County are typically hot and sunny, with average temperatures ranging from the mid-80s to low 90s Fahrenheit (around 29 to 33 degrees Celsius). Heatwaves are common during the summer months, with temperatures occasionally exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius). Thunderstorms are also frequent, bringing localized rainfall, lightning, and gusty winds to the area.

Winters in Emery County are generally cold and snowy, with average temperatures ranging from the mid-20s to low 30s Fahrenheit (around -4 to 0 degrees Celsius). Snowfall is common, particularly in the higher elevations of the mountains, where several feet of snow can accumulate throughout the winter months. Blizzards and ice storms can also occur, leading to hazardous driving conditions and school closures.

Spring and fall are transitional seasons in Emery County, characterized by mild temperatures and changing weather patterns. Spring brings the melting of snowpack and the blooming of wildflowers, while fall showcases the vibrant colors of changing leaves and the harvest of agricultural crops.

Rivers and Streams:

Emery County is home to several rivers, creeks, and streams, which provide valuable water resources and support diverse ecosystems. The county is situated within the watershed of the Colorado River, one of the major rivers in the western United States, which flows through the southeastern part of the county.

The Colorado River and its tributaries provide habitat for a variety of fish and wildlife, as well as opportunities for fishing, boating, and rafting. Other notable waterways in Emery County include the Green River, San Rafael River, and Huntington Creek, which flow through the county’s rugged canyons and valleys.

Lakes and Reservoirs:

While Emery County does not have any natural lakes, there are several reservoirs and man-made lakes scattered throughout the region. These include Joe’s Valley Reservoir, Millsite Reservoir, and Huntington Reservoir, which provide water for irrigation, recreation, and wildlife habitat.

These reservoirs and lakes offer opportunities for fishing, boating, swimming, and camping, as well as wildlife viewing and birdwatching. Additionally, some of these lakes and reservoirs are stocked with fish by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, providing recreational opportunities for anglers.

National Parks and Wilderness Areas:

Emery County is home to several national parks, wilderness areas, and protected lands that showcase the region’s natural beauty and geological wonders. These include:

  • Canyonlands National Park, located in the southeastern part of the county, which is a vast wilderness area that features rugged canyons, towering mesas, and spectacular rock formations. The park offers hiking trails, scenic overlooks, and backcountry camping opportunities, allowing visitors to explore the remote and untamed landscapes of southeastern Utah.
  • San Rafael Swell, located in the eastern part of the county, which is a geological wonderland that features towering sandstone cliffs, colorful rock formations, and deep canyons. The Swell offers opportunities for hiking, rock climbing, and off-road vehicle exploration, as well as camping and stargazing under the dark desert skies.
  • Manti-La Sal National Forest, located in the northern part of the county, which is a vast forested area that features mountain peaks, alpine meadows, and pristine lakes. The forest offers opportunities for hiking, fishing, camping, and wildlife viewing, as well as winter sports such as skiing, snowboarding, and snowmobiling.


In conclusion, Emery County, Utah, offers a wealth of natural beauty, outdoor recreation opportunities, and geological wonders for residents and visitors to enjoy. From its rugged mountains and deep canyons to its winding rivers and expansive deserts, the county’s geography reflects its diverse landscapes and rich natural heritage. Whether exploring national parks, fishing in reservoirs, or hiking in wilderness areas, Emery County has something to offer for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages. With its stunning landscapes, rich history, and vibrant culture, Emery County is truly a gem of central Utah.