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Moab and Southeastern Utah Travel Guide


For nearly the first 20 years of its life, Blanding, a small place near the base of the Abajo and Henry mountains, was known as Grayson. This changed when Thomas Bicknell, a well-heeled man from the East Coast, offered a huge library of books to any town willing to take his name. In the end, another Utah town got the namesake, and Blanding was so named to honor Bicknell’s wife’s maiden surname.

Blanding ended up splitting the book bounty with the competing town. These days the name seems a bit of a cosmic joke, as there is famously little to do around here. Many residents love it for its peaceful quality, however, and as the biggest town in San Juan County it remains vital in its own way. It’s home to a college and several museums.

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