Garland is located eighteen miles south of the Idaho border, twenty miles north of Brigham City, and twenty-five miles west of Logan. Situated on the east bank of the Malad River, it is surrounded by mountains on three sides. The mountains and valleys are a result of the great upheaval that took place about 60 million years ago. Garland sits on what was the bottom of prehistoric Lake Bonneville, and the rich soil deposits have been a boon to the area's agriculture.
Prehistorically, the area around Garland was inhabited by the Fremont Indians. In later times, the Shoshoni Indians used northern Utah as their fishing and hunting grounds. They wintered on the foothills west of Garland, especially at Point Lookout. In the 1820s trappers came to the area. Among them were Etienne Provost, Jedediah Smith, Kit Carson, and Jim Bridger.
The first permanent settlements in the Bear River Valley were along the foothills and east of Garland at Bear River City, Collinston, Fielding, and Plymouth. The settlers grazed their livestock, used the springs for water, made attempts to divert irrigation water from the Malad River, and established dry farms.