September 11-12, 2013
From Moab we drove to Goblin Valley State Park on our way to Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. We’d been to GVSP before, about 4 years ago, and I wanted to see it again. I first found out about this park and its unusual landscape from one of my favorite movies, Galaxy Quest, a clever sci-fi comedy that will charm any Star Trek fan. In the film, the crew must find a beryllium sphere to power their broken star ship. They end up on a strange desert planet. Yes, you guessed it, that planet was actually filmed in the Valley of the Goblins. Otherworldly red-rock formations stand upright across the Valley like a gathering of bizarre creatures frozen solid by an evil spell.
We arrived at the campground at dusk and planned to tour the Valley the next day. That night heavy rains fell again. In the morning clouds hung low in the sky; the sun tried valiantly to shine through small breaks in the dense cover. The colors of the earth were intensified by the moisture. Reddish dirt ranged from pale orange to crimson to maroon; green or blue layers added contrast. Puddles and mud covered the ground. In a few spots, my feet sunk several inches in red muck like quick sand. After breakfast (and a photos from the campground area) I hiked the mile to the Valley. Chris stayed back to putter and get the camper ready for another day on the road.
Taking sinuous trails around the formations I was mesmerized by their lively shapes. Some looked like huge-headed aliens, some like male anatomy, while others sprouted like giant mushrooms. I could have spent the whole day there – actually several days – meandering the maze-like alleyways as the light, shadows and colors quickly changed. Some day I would like to return and seek out the most goblin-like goblins and create a photographic series.
Eventually I met Chris for lunch in the viewing area parking lot. Afterward we explored a little more before packing up to move on. As we passed the visitor’s center on our way out, we almost missed a small sign taped to a window. It announced that Route 24, the road to Grand Staircase, was closed indefinitely. It had been washed out by the previous night’s deluge. (These were the same rains that caused massive flooding and loss of life in eastern Colorado last September.)
A bit disoriented and disappointed we had no choice but to retrace our route north to Highway 70 and to come up with an alternative plan for the night.