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.
Not a bad place to spend two nights.
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.
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.
Hiking down into Goblin Valley.
I loved the fresh snow on the ground and on the hoodoos. It added a nice contrast to the otherworldly landscape.
Diane surrounded by goblins.
Tracks In The Snow
Four Goblins In Snow
Wandering Among Goblins
Walking through 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.
Making tracks in the snow on the Curtis Bench Trail with Wild Horse Butte and the San Rafael Reef in the background.
This was our view from the overlook at the end of the Curtis Bench Trail.
Next we followed a series of drainages and ravines down into Goblin Valley.
The temperature outside was above freezing this afternoon and the bottom of these drainages were quite muddy in places.
Crossing the snow through Goblin Valley as we made our way back to the main parking lot.
After reaching the parking lot we found the trailhead for the Entrada Canyon Trail and followed it back to the campground.
Almost this entire trail was in the bottom of these drainages and they were a slippery, sloppy, muddy mess!
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.
Diane taking a nap on the bunk bed while our gear dries out by the door.
I liked the lines on the ceiling of the yurt.
We returned to Goblin Valley later in the afternoon to do a little more exploring.
Valley of Goblins
From the overlook we spotted an untracked pocket of goblins so we hiked down to those next.
I think this was my favorite of all the hoodoos we saw all weekend.
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.
We watched the sun set from the main overlook of Goblin Valley.
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.
View from the front porch.
Sunrise on 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.
The trail crossed and open expanse of wind-blown snow that was shallow in some places and deep in others.
We had to scramble up these boulders to the entrance of the lair. We were glad to have our microspikes with us.
Looking into the dark cavern of the Goblin’s Lair.
This is a view from inside looking back to the entrance we had just climbed through.
Diane in the lair for scale. It was a pretty massive chamber.
Looking straight up were a couple of skylights above us.
On last shot of Diane at the far end of the Goblin’s Lair.
Headed back down from the entrance of the cavern.
Hiking back to the trailhead.
We had a nice view of Molly’s Castle from along this trail.
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.
This bend in the shallow canyon had some nice light.
There were a few sections that got narrow near the end.
We returned to my Jeep and headed home early. 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!