An Adventure Guide to Harts Draw Road
Where to Pull Off & Explore Along This Scenic Stretch
Pristine mountain scenery and dramatic desert landscapes surround Harts Draw Road on all sides. The road clings to the northwestern edge of the Abajo Mountains, enticing you to crane your neck for views of snow-capped peaks and seemingly endless rows of aspens and maples, which enliven the forest with vibrant gold hues in autumn. The striking ridgeline of the La Sal Mountains pierces the horizon across the valley to the northeast. Sprawling vistas of red rock desert canyons below start coming into view about halfway through Harts Draw Road — a surprising sight from your location in the cool, forested mountains.
Utah’s Manti-La Sal National Forest spans more than 1.4 million acres of mountain and desert landscapes in both the central and southeastern regions of the state. The sandstone canyons, mountain ranges and forests of Manti-La Sal make up four distinct park districts: Sanpete, Ferron-Price, Moab and Monticello. Directly west of the small town of Monticello in southeastern Utah you’ll find the Abajo-Harts Draw portion of Manti-La Sal, where the scenic Harts Draw Road offers a chance to escape into the mountains before descending into one of Utah’s most remarkable desert canyons.
From U.S. 191 in Monticello, turn west onto 200 South Street. Bear left onto Abajo Road, following signs for Forest Access County Road 101. You’ll eventually reach the Manti-La Sal National Forest boundary — an information kiosk with a map of the Abajo-Harts Draw region will be on the right.
From here, the road rises gradually into the Abajo Mountains. Within minutes the sounds of highway traffic dissipate, and the bustle of town is replaced by the silence and stillness of pine, aspen and spruce forest. After climbing steadily for about 10 miles, the road descends steeply to the junction with S.R. 211 near Newspaper Rock and the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park.
To finish the loop back in Monticello where you started, turn right onto S.R. 211 and then right again at U.S. 191. Continue until you get back to town.
What to See
While simply driving Harts Draw Road offers spectacular scenery and solitude, stops along the way to enjoy the views, campgrounds and lakes make for a fuller experience.
About 7.5 miles from the forest boundary, a flat stretch in Harts Draw Road offers up magnificently uninterrupted views of the La Sal Mountains rising to the east. Forest Road 105 invites you off to the right for a better vantage point. Just a few hundred feet down this road is where you’ll find Monticello Lake. This 5-acre lake on the edge of the Abajo Mountains makes a tranquil setting for fishing and dispersed camping. The Utah Department of Wildlife Resources stocks the lake with rainbow and tiger trout.
Just before the summit of Harts Draw Road, turn left onto Forest Road 100 and drive for 1.2 miles to the secluded Foy Lake. Nestled amongst the trees, this 4-acre lake stocked with rainbow trout is another favorite fishing spot in the Abajo range. Dispersed camping and access to off-highway vehicle trails are available directly next to the lake. Foy Lake is also a lesser-known spot for birding.