Green River, population 961, lies at the foot of the dramatic river bluffs of Southeastern Utah. Amid John Wayne’s West and Edward Abbey’s Desert Wilderness, the town is the only place to cross Green River’s namesake for many miles and has been a welcomed site to pioneers, cattlemen, outlaws, and modern travelers alike.
Presently, most people experience Green River while zooming past our interstate exits at 80 miles per hour. Since Green River is the eastern end of the longest stretch of I-70 without any services, many stop for gas and the bathroom; maybe some also stop for a motel or a meal. However, as they make their hasty exit from town, they are missing far more than they see.
Green River is a remarkable place. For thousands of years, people have been working their way through this area, taking its measure, being shaped by it, and leaving their mark upon it. In many ways, the history of the our town parallels the history of the American West. It is a strong community where families have worked hard to build a life in the desert. Today, an agricultural base and a thriving hospitality industry fuel the town, but there are many layers of history -- especially recent history that are often overlooked. Green River is more than just motels, watermelons, or a blur on the highway. It’s a place worth celebrating, listening to, and learning from. It’s a place that deserves visiting, living in, and loving.
While by no means exhaustive, this document looks to provide a snapshot of this small town, the forces that shaped it, and some of its legends and traditions. Through this document, we aim to give you a better understanding of Green River, encouraging you to look closer at the town, and maybe stay a little longer. Depending on who you are, this guide may be a celebration of your town or glimpse into the life of this small desert community. Whatever the case, we hope this publication provides a well-rounded narrative of this place. The richness of Green River’s physical landscape is only rivaled by the richness of the stories that exist within it.