On Wednesday of our workshop week, we left Moab behind in the early morning hours to make our way westward across Utah toward Bryce Canyon National Park. We had some stops and photo ops planned along our circuitous route. I think I was the first to leave the hotel at around 5:00 AM and arrived at Goblin Valley State Park about two hours later. Upon arriving, the sun was nearing the horizon in the pre-dawn hours with just a thin slice of the moon visible. The mix of blues, yellows, and oranges made a nice backdrop for the rock formations silhouetted against the early morning sky.
When I arrived here, there was no one else around. It's kind of an eerie place to be in the dark when you're all alone. You see, Goblin Valley gets its name from the thousands of rock formations, called hoodoos, littering the landscape. These hoodoos vary in size and shape, and from my vantage point in the faint glow of the early morning light appeared like an army of other-worldly beings ready to attack at any moment. Some say that the formations resemble goblins (hence the name), and I would have to agree.
These hoodoos, or "goblins", consist of relatively soft sandstone strata beneath a more weather resistant cap rock. Eons of wind and water erosion of the softer material below has given the hoodoos their distinctive mushroom shape. Goblin Valley State Park received some national attention the week after we were there when some Boy Scout leaders decided to knock over one of these ancient hoodoos, claiming that they did it for the "safety" of park visitors. Although some of the formations do appear to be precariously balanced, it's probably not likely that they will topple over onto some innocent passers-by. Either way, it didn't turn out well for the men, as they were arraigned on felony charges in January.
This really was an interesting place to visit and we enjoyed hiking amongst the goblins for the morning. The view in the photo below is of Molly's Castle, taken as I was leaving the park.
After our caravan left Goblin Valley, we continued on our way by driving through Capitol Reef National Park. The park could only be explored from the highway since it was officially closed. I look forward to a return visit to this place in the future. The photo below shows a panoramic view of the area, taken just outside of the park.
From there, our route proceeded to higher elevations as we drove up and over Boulder Mountain. The views were spectacular and the aspen trees were displaying their brilliant fall colors. The bright yellows and dark greens provided some really nice color contrast for photos. The sky was also a deep blue with nice puffy white clouds.
It was was a good day to travel, as the weather was perfect and the scenery was great. We pulled into Bryce Canyon in the late afternoon as the clouds were rolling in and the temperatures were dropping. As the day was drawing to a close, a chilly wind was blowing a few snowflakes around, making a perfect evening to stay in where it was warm.