Land of Goblins - Goblin Valley State Park

Land of Goblins - Goblin Valley State Park

Shaka Guide

Have you wondered why the rock formations here are called GOBLINS? It’s really just a local term. In other places, they’re called hoodoos, stone babies, mushrooms, gnomes, hourglasses, toadstools, ghosts, or sprites. If you wanna see bigger, taller hoodoos, take Shaka Guide’s tour of Bryce Canyon National Park, which is about four hours west of here.

So, what makes THIS area special? Well yeah, I know it’s the Goblins. But why are they HERE, and not, say, in your backyard? The answer lies in science! Geology, to be specific. 

There are five different rock layers visible in Goblin Valley State Park. They are, from bottom to top, the Carmel, Entrada, Curtis, Summerville, and Morrison layers. What does any of that MEAN? Well, to put it simply, they’re all different layers of sandstone, that were deposited between 175 and 145 million years ago. The goblins themselves are made up of Entrada sandstone, the second oldest layer in the park. 

So, how’dya think a layer of rock, several hundred feet thick, managed to turn into thousands of funny-looking rock formations? Sedimentary, my dear Watson! The answer is, erosion. Wind, water, gravity, and time. It’s a powerful combination. Entrada sandstone is pretty soft, geologically speaking. It’s actually a mix of sandstone, siltstone, and shale. This mix of rock types means it’s not only soft, but fragile. As time went on, cracks formed in the rock. Then, water seeped into the cracks and widened them. Eventually, whole big chunks started breaking away. The remaining pieces of rock underwent something called spheroidal weathering. Now, that’s a fancy word, meaning that the rock’s sharp edges got smoothed, and rounded over. And, what we’re left with are goblins! 

This process is still going on today. They may be rocks, but they can still break. That’s why we need to be careful. In 2013, a man destroyed one of the park’s goblins by pushing it over. In case you don’t know, that is a felony. Explore as much as you want, but let’s make sure to treat the goblins with respect. They’re millions of years old, after all!

Want to hear more stories like this? Check out our Goblin Valley State Park Tour.

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