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Goblin Valley State Park

Utah, USA


Goblin Valley State Park is a state park of Utah, USA. Its eminent feature is its thousands of hoodoos and hoodoo rocks, which are formations of mushroom-shaped rock pinnacles, some as high as several meters. The distinct shape of these rocks comes from an erosion-resistant layer of rock atop softer sandstone.

Goblin Valley is one of Utah's most popular parks. It offers incredible scenery and great opportunity for hiking and camping. The goblin-like and mushroom-shaped hoodoos here are unique and fun for all ages.

Goblin Valley includes an area where soft sandstone has eroded into interesting shapes, somewhat resembling goblins. In some spots the rock formations are close together and produce a maze-like playground ideal for family explorations. Many people think the park landscape has a surreal appearance. A Hollywood movie, Galaxy Quest, was filmed at Goblin Valley State Park because of its unearthly scenery. Many serious photographers come here to get shots of the goblins during the late evening or early morning hours, when shadows provide contrast to the sun-bathed rock.

Goblin Valley State Park is located near the town of Hanksville, approximately 216 miles southeast of Salt Lake City. From I-70, exit onto Highway 24 and drive south for approximately 24 miles to the signed park turnoff, which is also the turnoff for Temple Mountain. From the Hwy 24 turnoff, follow the paved road for about 12 miles to park.

After the entrance station, the road to the viewpoint and trailhead passes the upper ends of two short slot canyons, winding towards a distinctive, isolated group of three hoodoos on top of a narrow ridge, surrounded by the flat, grassy land that extends many miles eastwards. The canyons are shallow but narrow for a few hundred feet, with nice rock forms and reflected light patterns. The road leads to an elevated parking area with covered picnic tables, looking out over the widest (northernmost) part of Goblin Valley, which is bordered on the west side by undulating badlands, rising up to a tall mesa, and to the east by a narrower, steep-sided escarpment formed of eroded layers of grey-white and red-brown sandstone. Most people just walk a short distance around the closest part of the valley though this area is not the most interesting as in general all the hoodoos are similar in size and shape; the formations are more varied to the southeast, beyond an intervening ridge, where a side ravine joins from the east. The goblins are taller, closer together and have more complex forms, especially around the head of the ravine on top of the escarpment, and on the far side, where a vast, steep-faced bowl contains thousands of hoodoos, some merged with the cliffs to create an eerie skeletal structure with distorted skull-like rocks and transverse bony ridges. From the top of the ridge (which completely hides the valley from highway UT 24 a few miles east) are great views over the San Rafael Desert, mostly flat and empty apart from scattered buttes and mesas.