Straddling the Utah-Colorado border and spanning Grand and San Juan counties in Utah, the large laccolith called the La Sal Mountains dominates the view of the surrounding canyonlands. Formed some twenty-four million years ago, these towering peaks reach a height of over 12,700 feet (Mount Peale) and provide resources of water, timber, grazing lands, and minerals that have attracted people to this region for thousands of years.
Native American occupation started as early as 12,000 B.C., as Paleo and Archaic Indians left behind campsites as well as Clovis, Folsom, and Plano points on the mesas and benches below. The Anasazi (1000 B.C.-A.D. 1300) found the flat valley floors with their irrigable lands and water suitable for crop production, and so they built their homes in the lower elevations and used the mountains above for seasonal hunting and gathering. Later, the Weeminuche Utes laid claim to this territory, depending for subsistence on wild plants and the deer herds that ranged across the mountains, while the Navajo ventured onto the slopes for medicinal plants and food. They named the La Sals the Five Mountains, though it is not clear to which of the many peaks they were referring.