Magical Places: Goblin Valley, Utah

Mornings are cold in the desert, and in the early months of the year, they try to hold to that coolness until the sun wins. Visiting Goblin Valley is an experience in extremes. There is soft sand and hard sculpted rock, hot sun and cool shade, energetic kids and tired parents, really tired parents.

Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

The most unique draw of the park is its alien-like “goblins” called hoodoos which result from the uneven erosion of the sandstone by wind and water. Down in the valley, these hoodoos form sculptures and mazes, as you approach the far edges, the hoodoos get larger and combine into a wall that stretches into a butte.

Fun fact, part of Galaxy Quest was filmed there. The whole business with retrieving the Kryllion sphere from the alien planet and the battle with the rock monster? Totally been there. Be jealous.

Tim Allen keeping his shirt on, for now.

If you want to visit Goblin Valley, keep the following in mind:

It’s a desert. No really. See all that dirt, sand, and sky? You’ll fry here if you’re not prepared. Bring lots of water and a big hat. I prefer a water backpack because having my hands free is super important. I’d rather not end up flat on my face if I trip. Wear sunscreen, even if you’re that random person who never burns, do it anyway. Blame it on me if you have to.

Early spring and late fall are best. I prefer early spring because the sharp weeds aren’t thorny yet and the temperatures are nicer. Dress in layers. It might be a brisk 55 when you start and well over 100 when you leave. Also, it takes a few hours, if not half the day, to haul a family to the other side and back. Pack food, bandaids, and all the patience you can muster.

All said, it’s truly an incredible place. I might set a story here …


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