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Washington County
Washington County Hall of Justice, May 1992
Washington County Hall of Justice, May 1992
Map of Utah highlighting Washington County
Location within the U.S. state of Utah
Map of the United States highlighting Utah
Utah's location within the U.S.
Country  United States
State  Utah
Founded March 3, 1852
Named for George Washington
Seat St. George
Largest city St. George
 • Total 2,430 sq mi (6,300 km2)
 • Land 2,426 sq mi (6,280 km2)
 • Water 3.6 sq mi (9 km2)  0.1%
 • Total 180,279
 • Density 74.19/sq mi (28.64/km2)
Time zone UTC−7 (Mountain)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−6 (MDT)
Congressional district 2nd
Washington County 5th District Courthouse, 2010

Washington County is a county in the southwestern corner of Utah, United States. As of the 2020 United States Census, the population was 180,279, making it the fifth-most populous county in Utah. Its county seat and largest city is St. George. The county was created in 1852 and organized in 1856. It was named after the first President of the United States, George Washington. A portion of the Paiute Indian Reservation is in western Washington County. Washington County comprises the St. George, UT Metropolitan Statistical Area.


The earliest settlement was Fort Harmony in 1852. Santa Clara was established in 1854 as a mission to the natives that lived on the Santa Clara River. Hamblin and Pinto were settled along the Los Angeles - Salt Lake Road in 1856, as was Gunlock in 1857.

Next came the settlements established as colonies to grow cotton, before the beginning of the American Civil War. They were located along the Virgin River, in the warmer climate below the Great Basin, that was called Utah's Dixie. The first were Virgin and Washington in 1857. Heberville, Pintura and Toquerville followed in 1858, Grafton, Harrisburg and Pine Valley in 1859. Adventure in 1860, and Duncans Retreat, Northrop, Shonesburg and St. George in 1861.

Fort Harmony, Adventure, Northrup were abandoned and Santa Clara, St. George, Washington, Harrisburg, Heberville, Grafton and Duncans Retreat, were nearly destroyed by the Great Flood of 1862 that followed forty-four days of rainfall in January and February 1862.New Harmony, Springdale and Rockville were founded in 1862 by settlers flooded out of Fort Harmony, Adventure, Northrup and other places in the vicinity. Harrisburg was relocated.

Shoal Creek later called Hebron, was a ranching community established in 1862 in the west of the county. Leeds was settled in 1867, and Silver Reef was a mining town begun in 1875 and abandoned by 1891 due to the collapse in silver prices.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 2,430 square miles (6,300 km2), of which 2,426 square miles (6,280 km2) is land and 3.6 square miles (9.3 km2) (0.1%) is water. The elevation varies from 2,178 to 10,365 feet (3,159 m) in elevation. The lowest point in the state of Utah is located in the Beaver Dam Wash in Washington County, where it (seasonally) flows out of Utah and into Arizona. Washington County is made up of three major geographic areas; the Colorado Plateau in the east-northeast, the Great Basin in the northwest and the Mojave Desert in the south-southwest.

Greater St. George

Most of the population is centered in the middle-south of the county near the border with Arizona (see St. George, Utah). Most national shopping, dining, and hospitality chains are located here, along with several local businesses. The climate of this section of the county is the driest; it only receives nearly 10" of rain each year. The terrain is also among the lowest in Washington County, making for a particularly hot and dry climate when compared to the rest of the county. Most homes are located in subdivisions, and an increasingly large urban sprawl exists. In Downtown St. George, several local restaurants and stores call this area home, and despite its extremely compact size, it tends to attract many locals and tourists alike. To combat the sprawl (which threatens many nature reserves and increases congestion), growth and promotion is being projected inward to the central area of the St. George, with many new centrally located developments being planned and constructed. The central valley of the city also contains Dixie State University, the only 4-year college within a 50-mile radius. Dixie High School is also located in the central valley.

Most commercial and industrial lots exist in the eastern portion of the Greater St. George Area in eastern St. George and Washington. Out there, land is generally inexpensive and closer to Interstate 15, making it a more viable option for shopping and dining. Rapidly expanding suburbs also exist there, especially in an area known as Washington Fields. Large irrigated farms have been sold to commercial and residential developers to make way for the anticipated need of more housing and business. Pine View High School is located in Washington, and serves this portion of the area. A second high school is planned to be built in Washington Fields due to the rapid growth.

The western portion of the urban area contains the cities of Santa Clara, Ivins, and Western St. George. While there is still some commercial and few industrial lots, land is considerably more expensive due to the scenic vivid-red cliffs and volcano lava fields, along with the close proximity to Snow Canyon State Park. This has resulted in the construction of many resort-style communities and gated subdivisions such as Entrada, Kayenta, and the Palisades. Abundant luxurious housing often exceeds $1,000,000 in price. However, there still are plentiful neighborhoods and older houses that tend to be more affordable. Snow Canyon High School is located in this area.

The southern portion of the city contains the neighborhoods of Bloomington and Hidden Valley and is also the location of Desert Hills High School. Limitations on development in this area exist due to terrain, and as such, it contains less population than its east and west counterparts. Despite is smaller size, the massive SR-7, also known as Southern Parkway, has been built as a beltway to accommodate future growth in the southeastern portion of St. George and Washington. The partially constructed freeway also connects the city to the all-new St. George Regional Airport, and in the future, will provide a vital connection to the community of Hurricane, which will thereby provide quicker and more efficient access to Zion National Park.

Despite its scenic location among red sandstone, lava fields, and the backdrop of the Pine Valley Mountains, the northern area of St. George is almost entirely undeveloped due to the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, which protects a variety of endangered wildlife and unspoiled desert. The only communities in northern St. George are The Ledges and Winchester Hills in the west, and Green Springs, near Washington, in the east. While the community of Winchester Hills has existed for many decades, The Ledges is a newer development met with significant controversy. A few houses in the gate portion feature what many consider to be multimillion-dollar views of Snow Canyon State Park, and because of this, are visible from inside the state park. This has led many to believe that the beauty of Snow Canyon is in jeopardy due to the City of St. George's willingness to sell the land around the park to private companies. In reality, only three houses are visible from inside the canyon, although more visible lots exist to be built upon. On the opposite end of the city is Green Springs, an upscale multimillion-dollar development, which consists of a golf course and many distinct gated and non-gated housing communities.

In the extreme east of the area lies the cities of Hurricane and La Verkin. Because this locale is disconnected from the rest of the area by undeveloped swaths of land, it is still usually considered distinct from urban St. George, however this may change in the future due to anticipated development that will connect these two regions. This area is more farm-based than St. George, but is still enjoying the rapid expansion in commercial, industrial, and residential development like the rest of the region. It is served by Hurricane High School.

Outside the urban area

While the entire county, due to its large size, is considered part of the St. George Metropolitan Area, most land in the county is rural.

In the middle and north of Washington County, sparse population exists. The center-county communities of Central and Pine Valley are popular resort communities and contain many cabins and recreational parks, due to their locations in Dixie National Forest and the Pine Valley Mountains. Veyo and Dammeron Valley, also near the center of the county, are primarily ranching towns, with most houses situated on large plots of land. This central area of Washington County is generally more wet and humid than the rest of the county, due to its high elevation and high precipitation. In Pine Valley, precipitation often exceeds 20" per year.

The northern portion of Washington County is semi-arid and dry, albeit less so than in the southern portion. The only incorporated town in this area is Enterprise which has a population of just over 1,700. Enterprise is the home of the only secondary school outside of the Greater St. George Area, Enterprise High School. The town contains a small grocery store and multiple gas stations, but is relatively rural when compared to the bustling urban area of St. George.

Western Washington County is home to Gunlock, also a ranching town, and a small Native American reserve named Shivwits, occupied by the Shivwits Band of Paiutes. This area of the county is also the location of the lowest area of the state, Beaver Dam Wash.

Eastern Washington County is also sparsely populated. However, the towns of Rockville and Springdale are filled with major hotels and resorts, despite their small sizes. This is due to their extreme proximity to Zion National Park, one of the most visited national parks in the United States. Springdale in particular contains many kitschy shopping and dining options. Most of the income in these two towns is fueled by tourism alone.

The county includes an area along the Old Spanish Trail called Mountain Meadows. Zion National Park is located in the eastern part of Washington County.

Adjacent counties

Major highways

  • I-15.svg Interstate 15
  • Utah SR 7.svg State Route 7
  • Utah SR 9.svg State Route 9
  • Utah SR 17.svg State Route 17
  • Utah SR 18.svg State Route 18
  • Utah SR 59.svg State Route 59

National protected areas

  • Beaver Dam Wash National Conservation Area
  • Dixie National Forest (part)
  • Red Cliffs National Conservation Area
  • Zion National Park (part)

There are 18 official wilderness areas in Washington County that are part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. Most are entities managed by the Bureau of Land Management, but some are integral parts of the above listed protected areas. Two of these extend into neighboring counties (as indicated below). Many of the BLM wildernesses are not much more than small appendages of Zion Wilderness in Zion National Park.

  • Beartrap Canyon Wilderness (BLM)
  • Beaver Dam Mountains Wilderness (BLM) mostly in Mohave County, AZ
  • Blackridge Wilderness (BLM)
  • Canaan Mountain Wilderness (BLM)
  • Cottonwood Canyon Wilderness (Red Cliffs NCA, managed by BLM)
  • Cottonwood Forest Wilderness (Dixie NF)
  • Cougar Canyon Wilderness (BLM)
  • Deep Creek North Wilderness (BLM)
  • Deep Creek Wilderness (BLM)
  • Doc's Pass Wilderness (BLM)
  • Goose Creek Wilderness (BLM)
  • LaVerkin Creek Wilderness (BLM)
  • Pine Valley Mountain Wilderness (Dixie NF)
  • Red Butte Wilderness (BLM)
  • Red Mountain Wilderness (Utah) (Red Cliffs NCA, managed by BLM)
  • Slaughter Creek Wilderness (BLM)
  • Taylor Creek Wilderness (BLM)
  • Zion Wilderness (Zion NP) partly in Iron County, UT


Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 691
1870 3,064 343.4%
1880 4,235 38.2%
1890 4,009 −5.3%
1900 4,612 15.0%
1910 5,123 11.1%
1920 6,764 32.0%
1930 7,420 9.7%
1940 9,269 24.9%
1950 9,836 6.1%
1960 10,271 4.4%
1970 13,669 33.1%
1980 26,065 90.7%
1990 48,560 86.3%
2000 90,354 86.1%
2010 138,115 52.9%
2015 (est.) 155,602 12.7%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790–1960 1900–1990
1990–2000 2010–2014

As of the census of 2000, there were 90,354 people, 29,939 households, and 23,442 families residing in the county. The population density was 37 people per square mile (14/km²). There were 36,478 housing units at an average density of 15 per square mile (6/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 93.57% White, 0.21% Black or African American, 1.47% Native American, 0.45% Asian, 0.42% Pacific Islander, 2.24% from other races, and 1.65% from two or more races. 5.23% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

In 2005 89.7% of the population was non-Hispanic whites. African Americans now made up 0.4% of the population. Native Americans had fallen slightly to only being 1.4% of the population. Asians were up to 0.6% of the population. Pacific Islanders had risen to being 0.5% of the population. 6.6% of the population was now Latino.

In 2000 there were 29,939 households out of which 37.10% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 67.60% were married couples living together, 8.00% had a female householder with no husband present, and 21.70% were non-families. 17.50% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.90% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.97 and the average family size was 3.36.

In the county, the population was spread out with 31.20% under the age of 18, 11.60% from 18 to 24, 22.40% from 25 to 44, 17.80% from 45 to 64, and 17.00% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females there were 97.30 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.40 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $37,212, and the median income for a family was $41,845. Males had a median income of $31,275 versus $20,856 for females. The per capita income for the county was $15,873. About 7.70% of families and 11.20% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.60% of those under age 18 and 4.20% of those age 65 or over.

In 2000, 92.5% of residents were adherents of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; 4.1% Catholic; 0.8% Southern Baptist; 0.6% Presbyterian; 0.4% Lutheran; 0.4% Episcopal; 0.2% United Methodist; 0.2% Baptist; 0.2% Assemblies of God; and 0.5% Other.


As of 2015 the largest self-reported ancestry groups in Washington County, Utah are:

Largest ancestries (2015) Percent
English England 28.7%
German Germany 11.5%
Irish Republic of Ireland 7.4%
Swedish Sweden 4.3%
Danish Denmark 4.3%
Scottish Scotland 3.5%
Italian Italy 3.2%
Dutch Netherlands 2.5%
Swiss Switzerland 2.2%
Norwegian Norway 2.0%
French (except Basque) France 2.0%
Polish Poland 1.2%
Welsh Wales 1.1%
Scots-Irish Ulster 1.0%


Washingtoncounty ut
Washington County (UT) cities and towns



Census-designated places

Unincorporated communities

Ghost towns


Washington County School District Headquarters
Washington County School District Office in St. George, Utah

In addition to the primary and secondary schools that compose Washington County School District, Washington County is home to Dixie State University in St. George, with a campus extension in Hurricane.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Condado de Washington (Utah) para niños

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