Goblin Valley State Park (Utah) is where we camped so that we could visit the Horseshoe Canyon unit of Canyonlands NP, 35 miles due east across the San Rafael Desert. It is halfway between the towns of Hanksville and Green River in Utah. Goblin Valley is named for an area of hoodoos that the park protects. Goblin Valley itself is on the southern edge of the San Rafael Swell, a gigantic anticline or bulge in the earth pushed up with the uplift of the Colorado Plateau and the Rocky Mountains in the Laramide Orogeny 60-40 million years ago. Subsequently, the original anticline has been eroded by millions of years of sporadic flash floods and dryland erosion into valleys, canyons and mesas. One of these features is Little Wildhorse Canyon, a famous slot canyon in this region famous for slot canyons. Slot canyons are deep and narrow canyons carved in sandstone. They can be hundreds of feet deep but only a few feet wide. Most of the year they are dry, but sporadic flash floods can roar through them carving them a little bit more. Most of these floods occur in mid to late summer. It is not a good idea to venture into a slot canyon when thunderstorms threaten. Even a distant thunderstorm can cause trouble. Another feature is Temple Mountain, the site of radium/uranium mines in the first half of the last century that reputedly supplied Marie Curie with ores. Uranium deposits such as these are scattered all over the Colorado plateau in Utah, Arizona and New Mexico and supplied the Manhattan Project and the Cold War nuclear weapons build-up.
Keywords:Colorado Plateau, Goblin Valley State Park, Little Wildhorse Canyon, Slot canyons, Temple Mountain, Utah