Goblin Valley

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Stephen Fischer Photography

Goblin Valley State Park is found in Utah about 10 miles north Hanksville.  It is a unique area for the multitude of unusual mushroom and pinnacle shaped rock formations that some say look like goblins.  Like many areas of Utah, it is a facinating area for those interested in geology and generally curious about unusual phenomena in nature.  It is also an excellent location for photography when under the right lighting conditions.


The common geological theory of how these goblins formed is that the top rock for many of them represent the surface of a former lake bed, where the stress fractures began the start of signficant vertical erosion downward. The lake bed contained many layers, with the top layer that remained being a harder sediment than the layers below it.  Over time as this lake bed dried up over an extended period of time, with the cracks on this lake bed surface eventually getting larger and larger in size.  Apparently some other faulting conditions occured that caused the playa to tilt and no longer capable of holding water as a lake. Perhaps this was resulting in a breaching of one side?  Eventually over time the forces from water eroded away the side walls of this fractured surface more and more.  What remains are the small pillars that once represented the fractured tiles of this old playa, with the harder rock on the top causing the erosion to be more vertical where the fracture cracks first developed.


I visited Goblin Valley on two separate occasions during some previous photography trips through southern Utah.  The first time in May 2011, and a second time in November 2012.  In each case I used the opportunity to stay overnight in or around this state park capturing photography under both the evening and morning light.  Either time can work for favorable results, although on both of my visits the skies were limited in the amount of clouds to bring in more color.  WIth respect to camping, the sites here a great including showers, but it can be popular on the weekends.  On my first time through here I arrived late in the dark, and too late to grab a campsite.  As a result, I had to drive up Horse Canyon road to the northwest and just improvise, setting my tent up in the dirt outside the state park boundary off the side of the road.


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All content and images are property of Stephen Fischer Photography, copyright 2011-2013.   Last updated: 9/15/2013