(nr Goblin Valley UT)
A trip to the Goblin Valley area of the San Rafael Reef was taken in order to camp amongst the goblin rocks and to hike a nearby slot canyon. Little Wild Horse Canyon was touted as one of the prettiest and most popular.
I decided to hike in for two hours and then return, instead of trying to do the entire 4 miles. It can also be combined with the adjacent Bell Canyon trail making for an 8 mile loop. I knew that would be beyond my limits.
The trail started in a wide wash with a gradual increase in elevation. Fairly soon an obstacle had to be overcome. A fallen boulder blocked the way. At six feet high, the only way around was a narrow ledge that slopped upward to the side. A short way later, another similar situation had to be overcome by scrambling.
Next, a fork in the trail for the two canyons. After that, the trail began to narrow and got more interesting. Tall cliff walls and boulders became the norm. A wider spot gave way to a much narrower path which twisted through the rock. I stopped often to observe the rock colors and textures, and the tall walls that enclosed me.
Then it got even skinnier with some spots no more than two feet between the walls at shoulder height. And, occasionally only the width of a shoe on the ground. Contorting the body to fit the passageway was sometimes necessary. Always a new quirk hidden around each bend. And, it got even more challenging.
Some rock climbing was needed to go over fallen rocks and continue in the narrow slot, including under a boulder wedged between the walls. Getting through was worth the effort as it eventually emerged into a wide clearing with towering walls on all sides. There I rested and ate a snack before returning back through the slot.
I had started early to avoid the heat and other hikers. And, I’m glad I did. A cool breeze through the slot rewarded me. When I was headed back, many others were coming in. It was easy to hear their chatter before seeing them so I could wait in a crevice for them to pass.
My campsite was well off the highway, against a cliff and next to some goblin rocks. Far enough to see, but not hear, the cars going to the trailhead. There were some nooks and crannies to explore, and a nice view of the reef. No other campers were seen, and no internet was available. It was a great camp and hike!
Camp: San Rafael Reef-Wild Horse Rd – BLM boondock
Scene: Slot canyon, cliffs, rocks, sand, desert