Goblin Valley State Park


Goblin Valley State Park
Goblin Valley State Park

It's the unearthly scenery at Goblin Valley State Park that drew the folks who filmed the movie Galaxy Quest here. The rock formations in Goblin Valley State Park have been very intricately eroded by water and wind over the eons, and it looks like there's goblins everywhere.

Goblin Valley was first discovered by cowboys looking for lost cattle. Then Arthur Chaffin (owner of the ferry at Hite) came through here in the late 1920's looking for a better access road between Green River and Caineville. He and a couple of friends stopped about a mile west of the valley and just looked in awe at a valley with 5 buttes and thousands of strangely-shaped rock formations, the whole surrounded by a wall of ancient sandstone cliffs. But Chaffin didn't come back until 1949. At that time he spent several days exploring the area and taking lots of photos. Eventually, the State of Utah got interested and finally bought the property and designated it as a state park in 1964 (just before I first came here as a teenager).

Goblin Valley State Park is a showcase of eroded geological history. The cliffs expose parallel layers of Entrada Sandstone, some layers harder than others. The initial zones of weakness in the Entrada Sandstone layers were the fracture patterns and joints within the stone.That's what has led to the uneven erosion and the shaping of the goblins: exposed edge-planes are removed more quickly by the action of wind and water while the face-planes remain in place. Wind-blown sands and dust then smooth and shape the formations further into what we see today.

Today, the place is so eroded that rainfall drops directly on bedrock, there's almost no topsoil and very little vegetation. So the rainwater just washes directly off and heads down the hill in fast, muddy streams carrying more eroded materials with it.

Goblin Valley State Park is open year-round with no closures. Hiking is allowed and there are 3 marked trails in Goblin Valley State Park that wind around among the hoodoos. In hiking around you may across kit foxes, pronghorn antelope, coyotes, jackrabbits, kangaroo rats, lizards, scorpions and midget faded rattlesnakes. A lot folks visit Goblin Valley State Park in the summer when the daytime temperatures run between 90°F and 105°F, with the nights as cool as 50°F. Summer monsoon arrives in July and can bring incredible rains and disastrous flash floods. The park is located off SR 24 about 24 miles south of the I-70.

Elevation: 5,100'. Acreage: 3,654.

Goblin Valley State Park
Some goblins at Goblin Valley State Park
Upper photo of Goblin Valley State Park courtesy of Aaron D. Gifford, CCA-by-SA 3.0 License
Lower photo of goblins in Goblin Valley State Park courtesy of Donar Reiskoffer, CCA-by-SA 3.0 License