Sunday, May 26, 2013

day 3: on to goblin valley

Sunday morning found us leisurely attending to breakfast around 8 a.m. - french toast, sausage and hot chocolate/coffee (I think I have finally found a decent instant coffee) in partial sunshine and 40 F.  As we ate and cleaned up, we realized that we weren't that far from Goblin Valley State Park, about 35 miles as the crow flies.  This of course translates into over 70 highway miles but we thought we'd give it a go anyway: we didn't have any plans otherwise.  After packing up camp, we headed east on Hwy. 24 through the national park to Hanksville, following the river through a dramatic moonscape of grey/white rock very different from the omnipresent southern Utah red rock.  At Hanksville (a mere bump in the road with a year-round population of about 220 people), 24 turned to the north, crossing a wide, flat valley punctuated by massive buttes.  Goblin Valley SP is out there in the middle of nowhere, nestled underneath some of those buttes, a small state park with some of the most bizarre geologic features we've ever seen.

Butte looming above GVSP

The main feature of the park is the valley of goblins, thousands of Entrada sandstone hoodoos filling a mudflat.  There are a number of hiking trails in the park, ranging from simple strolls to rugged scrambling through rocky canyons; since we didn't want to get back to SLC too late, we opted for a 3-mile round trip meander through Entrada Canyon.  It's a funny "canyon," really more like a winding ditch with thirty-foot mud walls, with sandstone goblins peeking out through the eroding mud.  The flowers in there were sparse and beautiful and it was quite disconcerting to not see where we were going or what direction we were facing.  When there's flash flooding, it probably fills impressively, but we figured we'd be okay since although we could see rain all around us - in the Henry Mountains, in the La Salles, out over the San Rafael Swell - we had a clear patch above the state park.

The desert in bloom

After our little hike, we went down to wander among the goblins.  It's just such a strange, beautiful place.  We've heard that for folks who camp overnight at the park's campground, playing hide-and-seek and flashlight tag among the goblins is a popular nighttime activity.  We've also heard that there's a real push from conservation groups to disallow people from going down among the goblins, to try to preserve them from man-caused damage.  That's probably a good idea ... but I'm still glad we got the opportunity to get down in there.

The goblins of Goblin Valley

Seeing how we were only fifty miles from Green River, we detoured there for a late lunch of burgers and beer at Ray's Tavern.  (If you'd told us on Friday that we'd be at Ray's on Sunday, we wouldn't have believed you.)  The joint was jumping with locals, MTBers, caravaners, bikers and rafting folks; the burgers and fries were just as tasty as we remembered.  We were back on the road to Salt Lake City by 4 p.m., rain heavy in the mountains all around us.  It wasn't the weekend we thought we were going to have - which would have been warmer weather, camping in CRNP and more hiking - but it was a great exploration of a new area all the same.  We're eager to go back and discover more.

This sphinx-like formation was about ten feet tall

No comments:

Post a Comment