The town was settled in 1882 by a small group of Mormon pioneers led by Ebenezer Hanks. With a population of about 200 people the tiny town's economy is driven by agriculture and mining, as well as from tourism due to the town's location between several national parks.
The town is located at the junction of State Routes 24 and 95, and is approximately fifty miles south of Interstate 70.
- Capitol Reef National Park. The park is located about 45 miles west of the town via Utah SR-24. It preserves the Waterpocket Fold, a 100-mile long wrinkle in the earth's crust.
- Goblin Valley State Park. Take Utah SR-24 north of Hanksville for 19 miles, left onto Temple Mountain Road for 5 miles then left onto Goblin Valley Road.
- Natural Bridges National Monument. 97 miles south of Hanksville via Utah SR-95.
- Maze District and Horseshoe Canyon (detached area) of Canyonlands National Park. This is the least accessible area of the park. Take SR-24 northn and turn right just before Goblin Valley turn-off to Hans Flat Ranger Station. 4-wheel drive, high-clearance vehicles only.