Goblin Valley State Park, Utah

One of my favourite spots in Utah is Goblin Valley State Park where the hoodoos look like playful goblins.

Located in the middle of the San Rafael Desert, about two and a half hours drive west of Moab, the valley was formed by the same forces of nature that caused the variety of rock formations I have been showing on the blog lately: inland sea, wind and erosion.

Goblin Valley State Park, Utah
Goblin Valley State Park, Utah

Please click on the images to view larger versions.

I made this image of the Three Sisters from the parking lot.

Goblin Valley State Park, Utah
Three Sisters

You are on your own to explore the valley of goblins. With no distinct trails you just wander around discovering new creatures made of sandstone. It is like being in a comical fantasy land where you are not really sure if all the goblins moved while you had your back turned. And there are so many of them that when you see a person they appear to be a gnome that doesn’t belong.

Aside from the Three Sisters, I made up these names for the goblins as I went along.

Goblin Valley State Park, Utah
Poodle Rock

There was a beautiful campground right beside the valley of goblins which made it easy to get there at the right time of day.

Goblin Valley State Park, Utah
Simpsons Rock

By the way, those eyes are natural. When I first saw them I thought people had gone and carved out the eyes, but after exploring the park I decided there were so many that appeared to have eyes like that it was impossible for people to have made them all.

Goblin Valley State Park, Utah
Oscar Rock (The goblin on the right looks like my beagle Oscar!)

Most of these images were made in the early evening when the shadows cast by the sidelight emphasized the texture and shape of the hoodoos.

Goblin Valley State Park, Utah
Frog Rock

Frog Rock is an HDR image made by combining three exposures, but the others are all single exposure images.

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    • says

      Thank you so much Edith. I hadn’t heard of it either until I was just around the corner from it and looking at the nearby places on the map. Utah has so many special places to explore.

    • says

      Hi Andy, Goblin Valley was amazing! You can’t help but imagine different life-like creatures when you see the hoodoos. I think our brains wans to make life forms out of the figures because it is so easy – every time you turn around it’s a duck or a dog or a frog or something :)

    • says

      Hi Mark, it really is a unique place in the southwest desert. I think it is the exact opposite of the green trees and blue ocean I am used to at home on the pacific coast. It was a great place to explore and I’m sure I only saw a small portion of what is out there. Thanks for your comments!

    • says

      Hi Alexandra! Oh yes it does! I visited Cappadocia about 20 years ago and I thought it was like no other place on earth. But I hadn’t yet been to Utah which is so much closer to my home than Turkey!

  1. says

    Love these. Okay, now on my list of places to go. You’re killing me, Anne! First Everglades, now this. By the way I loved that interview you did. So happy for you that photography brightened your outlook.
    All the best to you!

    • says

      Hi Mike, This really was a very cool spot to find. I’m glad you enjoyed the interview. I found it hard because it was live and I had no idea what she would ask me so a couple of times I was searching for an answer! Thanks for listening and for commenting here on the blog, much appreciated!

  2. says

    I love to shoot in Utah and can’t wait to get back there in June. As for the Three Sisters in Goblin Valley State Park, note that a similar formation in Arches is called the Three Gossips. However, in the Blue Mountains of Australia another similar formation is called the Three Sisters. Clearly the folks in Moab were not pc.

  3. says

    I have dreamed I was in a landscape like this several times when I was younger it was always twilight the rock was the same but in my dream the shapes were more uniform the Goblin rocks are the same more or less

  4. Miller McIntyre says

    Great photos! My wife and I visited here several years ago and really loved it. It is an amazing study in erosion. It’s hard to believe there was a sea here a few years back. :)

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