December 2003: Goblin Valley State Park


Green River, Utah

Cowboys searching for lost cattle were the first to report on the bizarre gnome-like rock form- ations that covered this remote valley. The goblins form by uneven weathering of sandstone rocks of varying hardness. Water erosion and the smoothing action of windblown desert dust conspire to shape the hoodoos and spires in the valley. The state of Utah acquired 3,000 acres to create the park in 1964.

The park does not maintain many formal trails but you are free to drop into the Valley of the Goblins and explore the intricately balanced rock formations with your dog close-up. The valley is flat and any level of canine hiker can enjoy weaving in and out of the goblins.
More spirited canine hiking lies just outside the park on the vast lands of the Bureau of Land Management. The Bell Canyon/Behind the Reef Road/Little Wild Horse Canyon trails can be welded to form an eight-mile loop into dry wahses and slot canyons. The walls of these canyons constrict to barely the body width of a Golden Retriever at times. 

After visiting Goblin Valley it is hard to believe that Hollywood did not arrive until 1999 to usethe park as a backdrop for alien planets. You can see the rounded rock formations on screen as the hostile planet Thermia in Galaxy Quest as Tim Allen and Sigourney Weaver star as actors in a popular space travel television series who are kidnapped by aliens to fight a real war.

The park is 36 miles southwest of Green Valley, the nearest town. From I-70 take 24 south to Temple Mountain Road and follow signs into the park.