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Tag Archives: geology

We arrived at Goblin Valley on Halloween. That was not planned. It just happened.

The landscape of Goblin Valley is pretty unbelievable. As you approach the park, you can see the looming Wild Horse Butte that dominates the horizon. The campground sits right at the foot of it. During the short fall days, the light is constantly changing, giving new looks to the rocks and cliffs. Sandstone walls give the camping area a sense of protection from the elements. They also provide a pallet for people with high-powered spotlights to illuminate in the darkness. The second night I was there, numerous people were enjoying that activity while I was trying to do night sky photography. According to its website, Goblin Valley is known for its dark skies, perfect for attempts to photograph the stars. I had mixed results.

The goblins of Goblin Valley are stone shapes that resulted from millions of years of geologic history. They are made of Entrada sandstone (debris eroded from former highlands redeposited on a tidal flat). The goblins show evidence of being near an ancient sea with the ebb and flow of tides, tidal channels and coastal sand dunes. Fracture patterns within the sandstone beds create zones of weakness. The unweathered joints intersect to form sharp edges and corners with greater surface-area-to-volume ratios than the faces. As a result, the edges weather more quickly, producing spherical-shaped goblins. This information is from the Goblin Valley brochure.

Whatever caused the stone shapes in the valley, it is well worth it to get down off of the overlook and walk throughout the three valleys of goblins to get an up-close view of the impressive and whimsical rocks.


The girls and I traveled to an agility event Friday, stopping on the way for a hike and then lunch with friends near Tonasket. It was a perfect spring day. Sunny and warm. At the start of the hike it was still frozen in the shadows but that changed while we were out. A creek tumbled down the canyon wall disappearing into the ground before it got to the canyon floor. Buttercups were blooming. Canyon Wrens were singing. A Golden Eagle stirred up all the Rock Pigeons. A fine outing.

We saw or heard these birds:¬†Chukar, Golden Eagle, Red-tailed Hawk, Rock Pigeon, Northern Flicker, Say’s Phoebe, Black-billed Magpie, Common Raven, Canyon Wren, American Robin, Song Sparrow, Western Meadowlark. There were also lots of marmots.

MA and I took the dogs to the area above Pipestone Canyon last week. It was very cold and very sunny. We didn’t stop very much and stayed in the sun as much as possible. The days are short and the sun is low in the sky so when we returned to the car, we were in deep shade. We wondered about the sanity of two joggers who were just getting started as we loaded the dogs.

Most years, it is a long slog to get up to the Pipestone Rim Trail in January. You’d have to park at the bottom of Lester Road and walk, snowshoe or ski up to it and then you’d be tired before you even got to the trail. This year, we can drive to the trailhead. With just a bit of snow it is getting lots of use from hikers, dog walkers and fat bikes. Three women and five dogs enjoyed it yesterday. Snow was in the forecast but the few flakes that fell didn’t amount to anything and at one point the sun was shining. More snowflakes in today’s forecast.

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