Goblin Valley State Park Utah

28 Oct

Leaving Green River State Park we had a short-ish drive to Goblin Valley and began to get a taste of what this area is all about as we crossed the I70. Looking west along its length we could see the uplifted rocks of the San Rafael Swell.P1200233


To the left of this road the land was flat apart from several huge outcrops of rock jutting into the blue sky. As the road turned towards the park one of these castle like structures was getting even closer, eventually we realised we would be camping below its towering presence!


It was just a short walk from our camping spot to the garden of the gnomes and in the afternoon sunshine we set off to visit them. Walking along the road our first view of the water and wind eroded rocks towered above us seemingly watching our progress toward the garden.


Creatures from a fantasy film they could be… but they are not.



Garden of the Goblins


People looking like ants as they explore

The wonderful thing about this place is there are no keep off or keep out signs, you can wander at your will and climb as you can (with safety in mind of course) to explore this fantasy land. How I wish I could share this with our grand children, I could just imagine there excitement running around and, as we were, spotting ‘faces’ and ‘creatures’ in the rocks.


What a happy pig!


We spent a couple of hours meandering around the valleys before deciding it was time to turn back with the intention of returning to explore more the next day.

What we decided to do next morning however, was to follow a trail from just beside the campground, recommended in the State Park information to ‘reduce your carbon P1200251footprint’. The idea was that you did not take a motor vehicle along the road to the garden but walk the trail. I think we both interpreted this as a bit of a short cut or easy way to get to the garden.

We walked for maybe fifteen minutes from the campground to higher ground along the trail (we thought). We began to get a little side tracked by the rocks and minerals we were finding. The views were interesting too…. but is this really the way the path goes?


Looking around we realised this was just not the right trail, Robert looked over and spotted a wash below with footprint in it… that is where the trail was really meant to be. We re traced our steps, for about 10 minutes, and began the decent into the wash.


Now, this looked much more like it and an easy enough walk. Thankfully we were walking at a time when no flash floods would be rushing through these narrow passages but all the evidence of how the water erodes the rocks were around us, the muddy looking walls to the sides of the wash were actually very hard baked, almost clay like, dotted with small rocks and minerals washed from the softer structures above.


Some of the hard cap rocks were precariously balanced on the softer crumbling rocks below. It looked like a quick push and it would all come tumbling down. Maybe it will with the next storm or maybe it will stay that way for many years to come, its all in the hands of the wind and rain.


The wash got deeper, we walked and walked, a seemingly endless trail that twisted and P1200290turned so you could not see what was around the next bend or how close you were to your destination.

In places the flow of water had cut into and undercut the soft rock leaving overhangs above us.

Eventually 2hrs later we emerged into the valley where we had walked the previous day and made our way up to the car park area above. The walk from here along the road to the campground the previous day had taken us 15 minutes.

Maybe we are glutens for punishment but we wanted to explore further. Another trail led from the car park area and we began to follow it toward an area called Molly’s Castle Overlook. Easy enough to begin with the trail took us past some different rocky outcrops where the coloured layers in the sedimentary rock had been weathered into chocolate mounds.




The return trip again took us along a wash, that is after I refused to take the ‘crest’ route. A narrow path which led on to the top of a steeply sided bank, this we would have walked along and then it was unclear where the path went. I chickened out, it felt like I was walking a tight rope. So, another wash but this one was much more open and an easier trail as long as you follow the correct arrows that is!

Again a great day of exploring and back in haRVey we enjoyed an evening meal watching the sun set on the red rocks around us.IMG_0059

2 Responses to “Goblin Valley State Park Utah”

  1. Chris Hill October 28, 2011 at 7:36 am #

    More great photos, I especially like the one with the big goblin against the blue sky and aeroplane trails and the last one in the sunset!

    • elainethehill October 28, 2011 at 8:22 am #

      Glad you enjoyed them – the big goblin is the naughtiest in the valley especially when he leads you down the wrong trail!

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