Cowboys searching for cattle first discovered secluded Goblin Valley. Then in the late 1920s, Arthur Chaffin, owner/operator of the Hite ferry, and two companions were searching for an alternative route between Green River and Caineville. They came to a vantage point about a mile west of Goblin Valley and were awed by what they saw, five buttes and a valley of strange-shaped rock formations surrounded by a wall of eroded cliffs.
In 1949, Chaffin returned to the area he called Mushroom Valley. He spent several days exploring the mysterious valley and photographing its scores of intricately eroded creatures. The area was acquired by the state of Utah and in 1964 was officially designated a state park.
Goblin Valley State Park is a showcase of geologic history. Exposed cliffs reveal parallel layers of rock bared by erosion. Because of the uneven hardness of sandstone, some patches resist erosion much better than others. The softer material is removed by wind and water, leaving thousands of unique, geologic goblins. Water erosion and the smoothing action of windblown dust work together to shape the goblins.
Bedrock is exposed because of the thin soil and lack of vegetation. When rain does fall, there are few plant roots and little soil to capture and hold the water, which quickly disappears, in muddy streams without penetrating the bedrock.
Opened to the public as a state park in 1964.
Park Elevation – 5,000 feet