The Goblins! ~ Gold Butte National Monument
All it takes is one look to agree that there is no other place on earth that is like the Goblins in Gold Butte National Monument! This majestic wind carved orange sandstone landscape is so far removed from the ordinary, that it simply does not look real. Carefully walking around in the Goblins area is like being in a mysterious dream world of odd shaped twisted sandstone sculptures. Many of the eroded sandstone shapes resemble animated creatures that are quite ominous looking. Some even look like scary goblins, which is how this place got its name.
The Goblins area is located in the Little Finland section of Gold Butte National Monument. In order to get to this destination, a visitor must first drive the entire length of the Mud Wash Jeep Trail, then navigate the Little Finland Road to where the Goblins Hiking Trailhead can be found. The hiking trail leads to an easy access point for getting on top of the gigantic stone slab that the Goblins sit upon. Information and details about the trek down the Mud Wash to Little Finland and the Goblins access point can be found in these articles:
A word of caution must be expressed for those who do the Goblins hiking tour. The sandstone surface is very rough and treacherous. Any loose sand on this surface can be a slick as ice. Because there are so many uneven surfaces and crags, it is very easy to trip and fall in this place, so go slowly to prevent injury. It is also very easy to follow a path and then find that it is impossible to take the same path back out, so be prepared to spend some extra time navigating through this maze of wind carved sandstone sculptures.
Walking with care in the Goblins area is advisable, because stepping on the thin pieces of sculpted sandstone on the slab surface will cause them to break and this will destroy thousands of years of wind erosion artwork that was made by Mother Nature herself. Climbing the fragile wind carved sandstone sculptures is also taboo for the same reason. The Goblins is protected by federal law and fines for any damage done will be very costly. When walking through the Goblins, it is best to leave a soft footprint and leave no trace, so future generations can enjoy this pristine majestic place!
Wandering around through the Goblins is an amazing experience! Every step brings something new and unusual to see in this eerie garden of wind carved orange sandstone sculptures. Some of the spires look like animated characters, while the flat tiered table top formations look like they belong on another planet in a distant galaxy. There are gigantic mushroom rock formations that stand alone and there are many hidden alcoves that look as if the powers of nature created these shady spots just for visitors to find relief from the bright sunlight that glows in this bright orange landscape.
Some of the Goblins have shapes that are so odd looking, that all that one can do is stop and stare. All the while, the orangish red color of the sandstone glows in the sunlight, which creates an astounding visual effect when the skies are cobalt blue. The Goblins hiking experience truly is a mesmerizing one, so be prepared to take the time to be amazed like never before!
Keeping an eye out for the wildlife in the Goblins area will lead to a few surprises too. There are many pockets on this sandstone outcrop that retain rain water long enough for a micro environment to exist. The jackrabbits and lizards know their way around this place well and and a hole or crevice can be a home for these little critters. Where there are little critters, there are predators, so it pays to watch your step and not reach into dark places, because a rattlesnake or scorpion might be hiding just out of sight. Just about the only other animals around in this desolate desert landscape are the taunting ravens and an occasional coyote. Vultures do circle overhead occasionally, which adds to the ominous feeling of the Goblins being a dangerous place.
On the day that I visited the Goblins, there were steady 25 mile per hour winds with gusts over 40. As far as the high winds were concerned, everything was fine till I got on top of the gigantic stone slab outcrop that the Goblins sit upon. For some reason, the winds seem to pick up the sand from the desert floor below and carry it up to the level of where the Goblins stand. When standing below, there was no dust in the air, but up on top of the gigantic stone slab it was like being sandblasted!
What I discovered while on top of the gigantic stone slab was the strange landscape in this area creates an air foil effect that directs the intense wind erosion directly at the Goblins. Each spec of wind blown sand felt like a needle poking my face when standing up top, so it was easy to picture how the wind erosion sculpted the Goblins over eons of time. I also discovered how handy the naturally shielded sandstone alcoves can be, as I sat behind a rock wall archway where the strong winds did not blow. I sat there and snacked while taking in the beautiful view of a gigantic mushroom shaped sandstone rock for about an hour, before heading back down the trail. I had a feeling that many other people had sat at this very same place for the same reason all the way back to ancient times, which helped to make some spiritual sense out of matters in the weird Goblins landscape.
As mentioned earlier, the path that gets you there, may not be the right path when going back out. Finding my way back to the access point seemed like such a simple task, but the Goblins landscape is so disorienting that nothing looks familiar when one changes direction! Natural staircases that were easy to hop down are nearly impossible to climb back up, so navigating the way out of the Goblins was like being in an endless labyrinth at times. It does take patience when finding ones way through the Goblins for safety’s sake, because a hasty action can only increase the risk of injury in this unforgiving place.
If you have longed to visit a place where you can experience Mother Nature’s absolute weirdness at her best, then the Goblins is the unique strange destination that you have been looking for! Nowhere else on earth will a person find such an amazing display of natural wind carved free form sandstone sculpture art! Last but not least, be sure to pack snacks, plenty of water and a good camera for the hike, because getting to this place and walking through the Goblins is an all day affair. If it is windy, wearing goggles and a dust mask is highly suggested, because you will be thoroughly sand blasted once on top of the tall gigantic stone slab. The Goblins at Gold Butte National Monument is a one of a kind scenic destination that definitely belongs on the lifetime travel adventure list!