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Front Page » November 26, 2013 » Emery County News » A look at the history of Goblin Valley State Park
Published 340 days ago

A look at the history of Goblin Valley State Park


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By Julie Zwahlen

With all the international news on Goblin Valley that has occurred lately, let's take another look at Goblin Valley. How many of you have been there? If you haven't been there you should really go, and if you have been there you should go again. You are missing a lot. We so often take for granted that which is close to home. I know I have been guilty of that. After Melon Days as my husband and I were taking Buddy Jewell and his wife Tene' back to the airport she leaned over to me and asked, "Do you ever get tired of looking at this scenery?"

Did you know that in the late 1920s Arthur Chaffin, who later became the owner/operator of Hite Ferry, was looking for an alternate route between Green River and Caineville. He called it Mushroom Valley. He wasn't the first to discover Goblin Valley, but because of him and his photographs he took when he returned in 1949 it became a popular destination. In 1954 it was proposed that it needed to be protected from vandalism, ironically enough. The State of Utah acquired the property and established it as Goblin Valley State Reserve. Then it officially became a state park on August 24, 1964.

Goblin Valley consists of the unexpected and spectacular. I visited with Sarah Siefken, who is the manager for Goblin Valley and Green River State Park. She has a wealth of information about the area here in southern Emery County. So I would like to recap my conversation with her for you.

The geological name for the formations is Hoodoos, but the common name is Goblins. They are Jurassic rock formations that are 170 million years old. It was a muddy tidal flat along an inland sea. It deposited mud, sand and silt. Sandstone is the cap rock and it doesn't erode rapidly compared to the pedestal that is mudstone, siltstone and shale which are highly erosive. So Goblin Valley is still a work in progress.

The classic visit to Goblin Valley would probably consist of visiting Observation Point and Little Wild Horse Canyon. It can be done in about a day. So the classic visit is a great starting point, but if you have been there and done that there is a lot more out there. There are caves to explore, trails to hike, slot canyons to go through, just to scratch the surface.

So if you are looking for more than the classic trip to Goblin Valley, Sarah told me about three caves that are made up of Goblins. They are along the backside of the Goblins. The largest is the Goblins Lair and they have guided hikes out to the Lair in the spring and fall. There are two other smaller caves one is by White Dome just before Second Valley and the third one you would have to ask directions to since it is not by any popular landmarks.

Slot canyons are fun and there are quite a few out there. The most popular is Little Wild Horse Canyon and if you combine it with Bell Canyon it makes an eight mile loop. Ding and Dang Canyons are a little trickier and require some basic climbing moves, but totally fun and doable. Crack Canyon is a great slot canyon and it is not as busy as Little Wild Horse so if you visit it, you won't have to wait for people to go through when it is busy.

There are the beginnings of new things going on out there. They just opened up repelling into the Goblins Lair. There is a sling on a rock that you can hook to but other than that you need your own equipment. They are working on putting in a mountain bike trail, so that will be great. Also they are going to be starting a Night Sky program which will include star parties, constellation identification and full moon hikes. They are in the process of getting certified and hope to begin in the spring.

There are two full time rangers now and they will have more staff come spring. The fee to get into the park is $8 per vehicle up to eight people and that is all year long. It is $18 to camp in the summer and winter and $20 in the spring and fall which is the best times temperature wise to visit. A Yurt costs $60 to rent a night and it has bunk beds and if you visit in the winter with snow on the ground you can see the goblins capped with snow and then go stay in a Yurt and blast the heater.

The website is goblinvalley.utah.gov and you can make reservations on the website also. Sarah said that it looks best at sunset.

So back to the question Tene' asked me, I never get tired of the scenery around here. Absolutely not. We live in the most beautiful and diverse county/state, you could ask for, so make your plans and let's get out and see it.



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November 26, 2013
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