Goblin Valley State Park
Despite the name, Goblin Valley State Park is not a place avoided by hobbits, bearing a Ring of Power or otherwise; instead it is a beautiful yet desolate valley deep in the waterless badlands of Utah, dominated by dozens of erosion-shaped pillars that were christened goblins by its explorers.
Goblin Valley shows evidence that local Native American tribes, such as the Ute, Paiute and Fremont, traveled there to make elaborate pictograph and petroglyph panels; in fact, they are the second-best known feature of the park. The valley was discovered later by cowboys searching for lost cattle, but it was not until the 1950s that it became a state park in an attempt to protect its natural and historical treasures from vandalism.
The park is famed for its goblins, gigantic mushroom-shaped pillars that were created by erosion over thousands of years. Each one is a different and unique creation of nature that is a marvel to behold. During the summer season, sudden flash floods are caused by intense local thunderstorms, showing that the agency of erosion is still at work shaping the goblins.
The flora and fauna of Goblin Valley are hardy, as befits the desert conditions which rise to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the day. Cacti and thistle are the primary plants, and most animals in the area are nocturnal. Jack rabbits, scorpions, faded rattlers, lizards and coyotes are the main animals that live within the park's borders.
What to do
Goblin Valley offers a great deal of things to do, but most of them circulate around the pillars the park is named for. Camping sites and hiking are offered, and photographing the goblins is a common activity. The visitor's center offers a full range of amenities. In fact, the Hollywood scifi movie Galaxy Quest had scenes filmed here because of its surreal landscape. Even though it is dangerous to climb the goblins, as they are sometimes unstable, people still do it every year.
Goblin Valley is a spectacular but isolated park well worth taking the time to see if you love nature at its most unique.