Thursday, August 23, 2012

Little Wildhorse Canyon in Southeastern Utah

         For a sensational side trip while camped in Goblin Valley State Park, travel five miles to Little Wildhorse Canyon.  This slot canyon is an ideal destination for a canyoneering novice or for those seeking an unconventional experience in red rock country.  Classified as "non-technical", the canyon requires no ropes or other specialized climbing gear.

       The following description of the hike through Little Wildhorse piqued my interest during a 2003 exploratory trip to places “off-the-beaten-path” in southeastern Utah: 
 “Little Wildhorse Canyon is a high-walled, tight-narrows canyon, spectacular at every twist, turn and corner.  Colors and textures run rampant here—a photographer’s delight.”  
        After reading the above portrayal I knew I had to experience the canyon for myself.  I did —and I’ve returned three times over the past 9 years.

       Little Wildhorse Canyon may be hiked out and back or combined with nearby Bell Canyon for an 8 mile long loop trek.  When introducing first-timers to the canyon I prefer retracing our steps; it’s great fun traversing the same obstacles and serpentine canyon walls in both directions, and less strenuous than the longer hike.

The photos below were taken on two separate occasions.   The popular slot canyon was filled with other hikers in October of 2003; however in July of 2012 we encountered only a few other brave souls.  Could it be the 101 degree temperatures kept the tourists away?
Create your own memories in Little Wildhorse Canyon.  Start by visiting this website for a description of this hike, and of other slot canyons in the American southwest:

There I am (in white), peaking out from between the labyrinthine
canyon walls of Little Wildhorse.

This faded midget rattlesnake slithers up the canyon wall.
The faded midget has a highly toxic venom but
is typically non-aggressive.
(More southern Utah wildlife photos coming in
my next post.)

Bob "chimneys" over a small boulder on the trail.

"Let's see if we can remove this giant boulder that fell
over the trail."  (Our attempt was unsuccessful.)

Not for the claustrophobic: the walls of the canyon narrow
as they reach toward the sky.

The undulating, water-sculpted rocks of Little Wildhorse Canyon.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Goblin Valley: Another World on Planet Earth

          Last week a starship traveled to Goblin Valley and its crew encountered hostile aliens.  This week a red pickup truck travels to Goblin Valley and the family inside encounters hostile weather conditions.

          My sisters and nephews are probably wondering why I’ve brought them to this desolate desert on a 104 degree day in July.  I admit to asking the same question as we bounce across the parched sagebrush landscape.  The 11 mile drive from the highway to the park entrance yields no clues as to the hidden treasures within Goblin Valley State Park.

One of Goblin Valley's treasures:  a double rainbow decorates
our campsite during a brief shower.

          We pile out of the truck and into the blast-furnace heat of the campground.  Blistering winds create next-to-impossible conditions for erecting the tents and cooking dinner.  As the sun slips into the western sky and the gale finally subsides, dinner dishes are washed and the tents secured on their sandy pads.

The winds have abated and our tents are safe... for now.

          “Let’s go to the goblins!”  Bob and Alan are ready to explore the eroded sandstone formations which give this park its name.  On the valley floor we discover an out-of-this-world playground, the setting sun casting an eerie glow over the luminous rocks.  By now temperatures have dipped into the 90's and we all enjoy an hour of entertainment among the goblins.

Bob, Karen and Alan scramble over the rocks.  The sandstone formations
in Goblin Valley present an endless variety of sizes and shapes
but they all display the same reddish-brown coloration.

Bob relaxes atop one of the goblins.

Alan and Rita take a break in the sandstone maze.

Bob walks in the shadows of the goblins.

          The next day a dust storm flips one of our tents and scatters picnic supplies across the sand.  We respond to the wind and heat by transferring our belongings to one of the two yurts in the campground.  The yurts, new to the park in December of 2011, are a welcome addition to this campground and compared with our tents they are palatial.  We eat and sleep in air-conditioned comfort.  Refreshed by a night in the yurt our third morning finds us ready for the next adventure—hiking a nearby slot canyon.  

One of two yurts available for rent in Goblin Valley State Park.

Alan watches the moonrise as the sun sets on a day
of fun in the valley of the goblins.

        Travel along with us next week as we visit Little Wildhorse Canyon.  We’ll also spot wildlife in and around Goblin Valley.

Want to learn more about Goblin Valley State Park?  Visit this website:

Thursday, August 9, 2012

An Other-Worldly Quest in the Valley of the Goblins

          The crew of the starship "Protector” is on a mission to procure a new source of Beryllium spheres to power their ship’s damaged reactor.  Finding the spheres involves a seemingly simple trip to a nearby planet but alas, the planet is inhabited with unfriendly aliens and the mission is not as straightforward as it seems.  

          Take a close look at the alien terrain below.  Do you recognize the movie?  How about the planet?  Is this a Hollywood set or a true-to-life place?

The aliens are coming!

          "Galaxy Quest", the entertaining Science Fiction/Star Trek spoof starring Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver and Alan Richman, is the movie.  And that nearby planet containing those fictional Beryllium spheres?   It’s none other than Goblin Valley State Park in Utah.

          The Valley of the Goblins is filled with fantastical eroded sandstone formations which reminded early explorers of spooky creatures.  The creators of “Galaxy Quest” saw the potential in these humanoid rocks—during the movie a group of goblins assembles and animates into a monster, threatening Tim Allen’s character, Jason Nesmith. 

"Jason", on the run from the sandstone monster.

         Computer generated images (CGIs) have been superimposed on the above DreamWorks studio photos from Goblin Valley.  Below, see pictures from the Valley of the Goblins as it actually appears, without CGIs.

          Next week’s post will detail a visit to Goblin Valley State Park by a group of earthlings on vacation—no aliens or spaceship crews included.
          This weekend, if you’re a fan of Star Trek or if you enjoy—as I do—watching the great Alan Richman perform, rent or stream “Galaxy Quest” for your viewing pleasure.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Two Travel Tales: A Photo Essay

             What type of traveler are you?  Is roughing it in the backcountry your idea of fun?  Or would you rather lounge by the pool at an oceanside condo?  In America it's possible to inhabit two different worlds within one week of each other.  In June of 2012 Tim and I did just that; backpacking Dinosaur National Monument in Utah one weekend and relaxing on the Hawaiian Island of Kauai the following week.
             The variety and diversity of travel options available in the United States is astounding and it's something I cherish—a fact that's no surprise to those who follow this blog.
             This week's post, with photos from each of our June vacations, highlights the contrasts between these two distinct American adventures.
             Enjoy these scenes from one day in America, one week apart.


Our two-person backpacking tent at the Ely Creek
backcountry campsite in Dinosaur National Monument, Utah.

Makua Hideaway:  our Kauai Vacation Rental home on
the island's north shore.


Breakfast is (almost) served.  Tim cooks dried beef and eggs
on our Prius backpack stove.

A pre-breakfast cup of coffee and the morning's
light reading on the porch of our Poipu Beach Condo.

                                                            Along the Water's Edge:

The banks lining Jones Hole Creek.
Evening stroll along Kauai's northern shore.

                                                                  Catching a Fish:

A nice Rainbow Trout, caught on a fly rod in Jones Hole Creek.
"Catching" (on camera) the beautiful Teardrop Butterfly Fish 
cruising one of Kauai's reefs.


Rafting the Green River in Dinosaur National Monument.
Sailing the Pacific, along Kauai's Southern Shore.


The trail from Ely Creek Campsite to the Green River.
Walking through a tropical forest at Lamahuli Gardens, Kauai.

                                                Reader, which pair of feet belong to you?

Would you rather be sitting by Jones Hole Creek,
a cool desert stream with great fishing...

or would you rather be here, 
relaxing by the pool at Poipu Kapili Resort, Kauai? 


If you had to choose between these two holidays, which one would you prefer?

For information on Kauai travel click here:

Discover Dinosaur National monument on this website: