Goblin Valley State Park

Goblin Valley State Park

38°33’51.2″N 110°42’12.5″W

Randall Chapman | June 10th 2018 | Travel

Out in the middle of the Utah desert at the foot of the San Rafael Swell lies an ancient sea bed from 140 to 170 million years ago, during the Jurassic era. There was a shallow sea bed that formed in the middle of North America and Goblin Valley is the result of layers of sediment building up during tidal currents. Over the last several million years the layers of sediment were buried and compressed to turn them into sandstone, siltstone and layers of shale. With uplift and erosion these layers have been once again exposed at the surface and have created some really cool features, typically called hoodoos but here they are called Goblins.

There are petroglyphs and pictographs in the Goblin Valley that offer evidence that the area was visited by many Native American tribes including the Freemont, Paiutes, and Ute. Cowboys searching for lost herds also stumbled upon the valley through the 1800’s but in the late 1920s Arthur Chaffin and two others found the area while searching for a better route between Green River and Caineville UT. In 1949 Chaffin returned and took pictures and shared them. Soon the area became popular with tourist coming from all over. In 1954 it was purposed that goblin valley be preserved to protect it from vandalism and later the state of Utah acquired the property and established the Goblin Valley State Reserve.  In 1964 it was officially designated a state park.

I arrived in Goblin Valley on a Friday morning along my drive through the heart of Utah on my trip back to Co from CA. I got to the valley pretty early and was fortunate enough that as Aukie and I entered the 1st valley only one other person, a photographer, had entered before us. As we entered she headed on a clockwise rotation so we headed in a counter clockwise direction. Not carrying a map with me Aukie and I just roamed through the goblins. This place has such a unique landscape and I imagined that if I had visited here as I kid I could have spent days roaming; letting my imagination run wild with stories of visiting other planets or maybe middle earth. Hollywood has even used this as a scene in the movie Galaxy Quest. In the movie they travel to another planet and fight a rock monster, the money the park made from the production of the movie helped pay for the paved roads throughout the park.

There are other places with really cool hoodoos, Bryce Canyon National Park, but the rock here is different. Admittedly my experience was enhanced by being able to roam the landscape alone for most of my time here. Something that probably wouldn’t happen on a weekend. Aukie was also welcome here as long as he was on leash. It started raining a little bit while I was there which made for bad lighting for pictures but also made for a pretty cool experience. We roamed through the first two valleys for a few hours before getting back on the road. This place is high on my list of places to explore more, I can’t wait to visit again.

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