Sunday, October 30, 2016

Series 38: Goblin Valley and the Canyons of the San Rafael Swell

Goblin Valley is one of those places that is so unique that you really have to experience it to understand it. For families with young children like mine, it's wonderfully hands-on, allowing amazing exploration opportunities within a few minutes of the parking lot. For those seeking solitude in their adventures, it's surprisingly easy to find areas without much foot traffic where you can wander for hours alone. It's a setting full of weird shapes, almost abstract in their form; breathtaking heights and drop-offs; delightful discovery of routes that wind around, over, and through the seemingly impenetrable; and surprising reminders of the delicate beauty of the life that clings to this unforgiving environment. It's an alien, apparently forsaken, yet still thriving land of austere beauty.

The slot canyons that cut through the neighboring San Rafael Swell offer yet another distinct flavor of adventure, with their banded colors and twisting corridors.

Image 1: The Sentinel Frogs
These iconic hoodoos are the first to greet visitors as they drive into the overview of Goblin Valley.

Image 2: Loner

Image 3: Glowing Corridors

Image 4: Tower

Image 5: Valley of the Goblin's Lair

Image 6: Valley of the Goblin's Lair Panorama
A 180-degree view of the valley.

 Image 7: Inside the Goblin's Lair
The cathedral-like ceiling hangs 90 feet above the cavern floor. 
This amazing place was only discovered within the last couple of decades.

Image 8: Pink Bands

Image 9: In the Trenches

Image 10: In the Trenches II

Image 11: In the Trenches II Panorama

Image 12: The Angel of Death
I've named the small hoodoo staring at us about 1/3 from the left side of the frame the "Angel of Death" because it sits at the edge of a place where the sand slopes downward from all sides towards a very small hole that drains whatever falls into that funnel. I don't know whether that sinkhole is a few inches, few feet, or perhaps dozens of feet deep--and I wasn't about to find out. This hoodoo sits on the precipice of a hundred-foot-high cliff, just across the canyon where the top entry of the now-famous Goblin's Lair was discovered only a relatively few years ago. Goblin's Lair features a 90-foot, free-fall rappel into a huge cavern and there is the possibility that this sinkhole could reveal something similar--and that's part of the mystery of this place.

Image 13: Looking Into Valley II

Image 14: In Valley II

Image 15: Pop of Color

Image 16: Pop of Color II

Image 17: Goblins and Arch I

Image 18: Goblins and Arch II

Image 19: Goblins and Arch III

Image 20: Goblins I

Image 21: Pocked Canyon

Image 22: Temple Mountain

Image 23: Peanut Gallery

Image 24: Goblins II

Image 25: Goblins III

Image 26: Tower II

Image 27: Goblins IV

Image 28: Tower III

Image 29: Abstract Shapes I

Image 30: Glowing Corridors II

Image 31: Sunset in the Valley

Image 32: In the Trenches III

Image 33: Sunset in the Valley

Image 34: Glowing Corridors III

Image 35: Goblins V

Image 36: Goblins VI

Image 37: Goblins VII

Image 38: In the Trenches IV

Image 39: Above the Trenches

Image 40: Abstract Shapes II

Image 41: Abstract Shapes III

Image 42: Abstract Shapes IV

Image 43: Little Wildhorse Twists

Image 44: Little Wildhorse Twists II

Image 45: In the Trenches V

Image 46: In Valley II Again

Image 47: In Valley II Again II

Image 48: Little Wildhorse Twists III

Image 49: Ancient Art in Decay

Image 50: Grumpy Old Man

Image 51: Pink Bands II

Image 52: Abstract Shapes V

 Image 53: Little Wildhorse Twists IV

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