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First Yurt Experience: Goblin Valley State Park

Snow in the Valley of the Goblins
Friday – Sunday, December 27-29, 2019

Well, here it is, my last trip report of the year and of the decade! After spending one night in a fire lookout tower over the summer I thought it might be nice to try planning a trip to a yurt since neither of us had stayed in a yurt before. So back in August I booked a yurt at Goblin Valley State Park for the last weekend of the year between Christmas and New Years. While I have visited Goblin Valley a couple of times over the years, Diane has never been there before and was interested in checking it out. Even when I had visited Goblin Valley in the past I never really spent much time there, so I thought it might be nice to spend a full weekend in the park.

We left after work on Friday and headed west into Utah. It was a slow drive this time because we were driving through a winter storm and the roads were snow-covered and slick. We made a quick stop in Green River for fuel and then finished the drive to Goblin Valley State Park. There was already a couple of inches of snow on the ground when we arrived at our yurt and it was still coming down. The first thing we did was figure out how to turn the heater on since it was 37 degrees inside the yurt when we arrived. Then we carried the rest of our gear in for the next two nights. The temperature inside the yurt slowly crept up to 62 degrees, which was the warmest it would get on the first night. After getting settled in and then reading for a little while, we went to bed early.

Here are a couple interior shots of the yurt that I took the first evening.

Yurt Interior 1

Not a bad place to spend two nights.

Yurt Interior 2

On Saturday morning I woke up before sunrise and wandered around the outside of the yurt to check out the view. It was still cloudy out this morning so there was no actual sunrise, but the snow had stopped overnight.

I climbed up to a higher vantage point for my first view of the yurt in the light.

Yurt After A Snowstorm

After I was done exploring around the yurt we headed over to Goblin Valley so we could wander around the unusual formations in the fresh untracked snow before other people arrived for the day.

A snow-covered landscape with the Henry Mountains in the distance.

Henry Mountains

Hiking down into Goblin Valley.

Into The Valley

I loved the fresh snow on the ground and on the hoodoos. It added a nice contrast to the otherworldly landscape.

Two Goblins

Diane surrounded by goblins.

Surrounded

Tracks In The Snow

Tracks In The Snow

Four Goblins In Snow

Four Goblins In Snow

Tall Goblin

Tall Goblin

Another Hoodoo

Another Hoodoo

Wandering Among Goblins

Wandering Among Goblins

Hoodoo Lineup

Hoodoo Lineup

Walking through Goblin Pass.

Goblin Pass

After wandering around Goblin Valley for a bit some other people started to show up so we decided to head back to the campground and hike a loop combining the Curtis Bench Trail and Entrada Canyon Trail. I figured that we might as well hike all of the official hiking trails in the park while we were here since there are not too many of them.

Starting the hike from the trailhead at the campground. As you can see in this photo, the sky became overcast again and stayed that way for most of the hike.

Entrada Canyon Trail Sign

Making tracks in the snow on the Curtis Bench Trail with Wild Horse Butte and the San Rafael Reef in the background.

Curtis Bench Trail

This was our view from the overlook at the end of the Curtis Bench Trail.

Curtis Bench Viewpoint

Next we followed a series of drainages and ravines down into Goblin Valley.

Down The Drainage

The temperature outside was above freezing this afternoon and the bottom of these drainages were quite muddy in places.

Muddy Trail

Snow Valley

Crossing the snow through Goblin Valley as we made our way back to the main parking lot.

Snow Trekking

After reaching the parking lot we found the trailhead for the Entrada Canyon Trail and followed it back to the campground.

Entrada Canyon Trail

Almost this entire trail was in the bottom of these drainages and they were a slippery, sloppy, muddy mess!

Slippery, Sloppy, Muddy Hiking

After getting out of the mud we returned to our yurt for lunch and to rest for a while. We could hear the wind picking up outside this afternoon.

Goblin Valley Yurt

Diane taking a nap on the bunk bed while our gear dries out by the door.

Mid-Day Rest

I liked the lines on the ceiling of the yurt.

Yurt Ceiling

We returned to Goblin Valley later in the afternoon to do a little more exploring.

End of Goblin Valley

Goblin Below

Valley of Goblins

Valley of Goblins

From the overlook we spotted an untracked pocket of goblins so we hiked down to those next.

Snowy Expanse

Lone Hoodoo

I think this was my favorite of all the hoodoos we saw all weekend.

Favorite Hoodoo

In The Middle

I told you above that the wind had picked up this afternoon and the temperature had dropped. Well, here’s a video of what it was like when we hiked back up to the parking lot.

As it was getting close to sunset we hiked the very short trail over to the Three Sisters.

Three Sisters

We watched the sun set from the main overlook of Goblin Valley.

Valley of the Goblins Sunset

When the sun was down we headed back to our yurt for dinner and to relax for the rest of the evening. I had hoped to take some night photos this trip, but it was too cold out and I didn’t feel like going back out once I was in for the night. The temperature overnight dropped down into the single digits and the highest temperature inside the yurt was 54 degrees on this second night.

I woke up early on Sunday morning again to take a few photos of the yurt with a clear sky.

Yurt At Dawn

View from the front porch.

Front Door

Sunrise on Sunday morning.

Sunday Morning

When the sun was up we packed up our gear and loaded it back into the Jeep while we waited for the temperature outside to warm up just a little bit before we started hiking.

Then we headed out to see the Goblin’s Lair.

This Way

The trail crossed and open expanse of wind-blown snow that was shallow in some places and deep in others.

Crossing Wind-Blown Snow

We had to scramble up these boulders to the entrance of the lair. We were glad to have our microspikes with us.

Boulder Scramble

Looking into the dark cavern of the Goblin’s Lair.

Goblin's Lair Entrance

This is a view from inside looking back to the entrance we had just climbed through.

The Goblin's Lair

Diane in the lair for scale. It was a pretty massive chamber.

Inside The Lair

Looking straight up were a couple of skylights above us.

Looking Up

On last shot of Diane at the far end of the Goblin’s Lair.

The Chamber

Headed back down from the entrance of the cavern.

Headed Back Down

Hiking back to the trailhead.

Leaving The Lair

Along The Cliffs

We had a nice view of Molly’s Castle from along this trail.

Molly's Castle

Instead of returning the way we had come, we took the Carmel Canyon Trail back. There were no other tracks in the snow on this trail.

Carmel Canyon

This bend in the shallow canyon had some nice light.

Around The Bend

There were a few sections that got narrow near the end.

Carmel Canyon Narrows

We returned to my Jeep and headed home early. Leaving Goblin Valley.

Leaving Goblin Valley

We had a really nice weekend in Goblin Valley State Park and I’m glad that I finally spent some real time here. This was a nice way to end 2019. The fresh snow really added something special to the experience!

>> Goblin Valley State Park Photo Gallery

5 Comments

  1. Phawnda Moore
    Phawnda Moore January 2, 2020

    What amazing photography! I love your adventures and have been to Goblin in the summer ~ such a different view, and your presentation is just superb! Thank you, many times over, for sharing the beauty of our world with your artistry and adventure. Happy 2020 and all it brings!

  2. Dianne
    Dianne January 2, 2020

    What an amazing place! I admire that you two go into the real backcountry. A snow adventure like that must be challenging and somewhat difficult. So glad that you share your wanderings with us. The goblins are quite beautiful, more so with the snow all around. I’ve stayed in a similar accommodation in Mongolia so I know that is unique, too. I hope it was toasty.

  3. Wayne Mumford
    Wayne Mumford January 2, 2020

    Nice images! Is it heated? Bring a stove?

    • Randy Langstraat
      Randy Langstraat January 2, 2020

      Yes, there is a heater in the yurt, but depending on the outside temperature it really doesn’t warm it up too much.

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