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Goblin Valley State Park, Utah: Mars on Earth with Hoodoo Magic

submitted on 22 November 2023 by

Intro to the Playground of the Gods

Picture this: it’s a sunny day on a parallel universe where Mars had water, and you’re out for a leisurely stroll among extraterrestrial hoodoos. That’s exactly the scene you’ll find at Goblin Valley State Park in Utah. This surreal, 3,654-acre state park is a geological wonderland, home to thousands of mushroom-shaped rock formations called hoodoos, which are nicknamed “goblins” for their otherworldly appearance.

A Brief History of the Hoodoo

The hoodoo magic of Goblin Valley State Park began millions of years ago when the area was a tidal flat on the edge of an ancient sea. Over time, silt and clay eroded from nearby mountains and formed the Entrada Sandstone we see today. Wind, water, and gravity worked their magic on the sandstone, carving out the park’s fantastical goblin army.

Things to Do in a Mars-like Wonderland

So, you’ve decided to trade in your mundane terrestrial existence for a day on Mars. What can you expect? First off, you’ll want to explore the park’s main attraction, the Valley of the Goblins – a labyrinth of hoodoos that will immediately transport you to an alien world. Here are some ways to make the most of your visit:
  • Hiking: There are no designated trails in the Valley of the Goblins, which means you’re free to wander and create your own path. Just don’t wander too far from your spacecraft, or you’ll risk becoming a permanent hoodoo resident.
  • Photography: With its Martian landscape and bizarre rock formations, Goblin Valley is a photographer's dream. Practice your panorama skills and astrophotography in this unearthly playground.
  • Stargazing: Far from city lights and with minimal light pollution, the park offers prime stargazing opportunities. Imagine looking up at the night sky, surrounded by goblins, and pondering the mysteries of the cosmos. It’s as close to an interstellar adventure as you can get without leaving Earth.
  • Camping: Want to extend your stay on Mars? Book a campsite within the park and sleep under the stars, surrounded by hoodoos. Just be prepared for any strange encounters in the night. You never know what creatures might lurk in the shadows of the goblin army.

Considerations for Visiting Mars (Goblin Valley)

While Goblin Valley State Park is an out-of-this-world destination, there are a few earthly matters to consider before you embark on your adventure.
  • Weather: The park is located in a high desert climate with hot summers and cold winters. As a responsible Martian explorer, you should be prepared for temperature fluctuations, as well as unpredictable weather conditions such as wind, rain, or even snow.
  • Conservation: While it’s tempting to think of the hoodoos as your personal playground, it’s important to remember that they are delicate geological formations. Practice Leave No Trace principles, and resist the urge to climb on, deface, or otherwise harm the goblins. Remember, they are watching.
  • Wildlife: Although the landscape may resemble Mars, the park is home to a variety of terrestrial wildlife, including coyotes, foxes, jackrabbits, and various bird species. Keep your distance and let them enjoy their Martian habitat.
  • Permits: While no permits are required for day use or hiking, you will need a permit if you plan to camp within the park. Plan ahead and reserve your campsite online before your visit.

Conclusion: Embrace Your Inner Martian

Whether you’re a seasoned adventurer or a novice explorer, Goblin Valley State Park offers a unique and awe-inspiring escape from the ordinary. So don your space helmet, hop in your rover, and prepare for a thrilling adventure among the hoodoos. In this Mars-like wonderland, you can truly let your imagination run wild.
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