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:


  1. Hi Rita,

    Truly amazing! Thank you for sharing these astounding photographs of your adventure in Goblin Valley. That double rainbow is spectacular and you must have had great fun photographing all those otherworldly shapes as the sun played across them.

    I also love your reference to the temperatures "dipping into the 90s"!

    Can't wait for next week's post!

  2. It IS great fun to be a photographer in Goblin Valley; at sunset there are photo opportunities in every direction.

    Yes, you know it's hot out there when you see a temperature of 92 degrees and feel relief that the air has cooled down!

    As always, thanks for your comments, Vickie.

  3. Rita, this is another one of your reports that tips the scale "beyond awesome"!

    Having people in your photos provides context to the magnitude of the "goblins". They are huge!

    I somewhat surprised that "humanoids" are permitted to climb on the "goblins". But that being the case, I'm guessing they are rather durable, and unlike the fragile sand sculptures at a beach in Atlantic City! :-)

    I'm looking forward to your Blog report next week about Little Wildhorse Canyon!


    1. Thanks John!

      The goblins are indeed huge, and the eroded sandstone formations are extremely durable—which is why "humanoids" began climbing around on them. The State Park service initially permitted climbing on the goblins, perhaps as a way to promote the park? Of course this was before the number of human visitors was as high as it is today. My understanding is that the park service now does NOT encourage climbing on the goblins. But the pattern has been established and Goblin Valley is one of Utah's most popular state parks; kids love the place and you can see why. I think climbing around on the goblins will continue to be tolerated, as long as the valley is not abused, defaced or vandalized.

      We had a great time there, as you can tell!

  4. Amazing landforms, you must have loved it!

  5. We all loved it there, but it was especially fun for my nephews. Goblin Valley is a wonderful family destination—one of the world's most unique playgrounds!

    Thanks for your comments, Manikchand!