Party: Mum, Dad and I
Ahh, goblins. Another word to add to my Utah geology vernacular…
Where you stand was once a wet tidal flat. Sand, silt and clay eroding from the western highlands were re-deposited here 170 to 140 million years ago in seas, shorelines and river channels. Over time, more sediments were deposited on top of the tidal flat layers. Gradually, the underlying sediments compacted and cemented to become sandstone, siltstone and shale layers of the goblin-producing Entrada Formation.
In the past 10 million years, this region experience a huge uplift which created the Colorado Plateau. This uplift set the stage for the rapid erosion, which peeled off the layers above the Entrada Formation. When the Entrada layers became exposed, the carving of the goblins began.
This is the same layer that produces the natural arches in the famous Arches National Park. But rather than being below the vast inland sea that I believe stretched all the way up through North America (probably why there is so much limestone in the Canadian Rockies), Goblin Valley happened to be located more towards the edge, showing evidence of: “1) the ebb and flow of tides, 2) tidal channels that directed currents back to the sea, and 3) coastal sand dunes.”
The goblins live in three valleys that are marked on the park map. Road access is provided to the first valley which we found to be the busiest (and loudest). As you roam further from the road you quickly find yourself alone amongst the intriguing shapes and can wonder around as you wish. (Whilst on one of the mesas Mum and I found a strange waterproof, fireproof suitcase that looked like it use to house scientific equipment. It was very heavy for a suitcase, but we managed to carry it out). It is interesting to see how the formations change depending on their state of erosion / distance from the butte. Those closer are much more densely packed, whilst further away many have fallen over and only the largest most stable remain.
When we visited it happened to be full moon, and the night sky was clear. This was a different experience and Dad seemed to prefer it, the silhouettes of the goblin figures becoming more distinct against the night sky. We saw many human figures, turtles, primates, camels, elephants and mushrooms as well many more strange and bizarre sights. I’d say its a must if you are in the area.