Embarrassing fact about me: I almost never stay in Goblin Valley on my days off. Of course it's a really cool park to work at and there are loads of places I haven't explored. But for some reason, when my weekend rolls around I want to drive far, far away. Maybe it's just hard for me to relax when I'm hiking around the park -- it's impossible for me to flip off the 'work' switch. I start picking up litter, telling people not to carve their names into rocks, building cairns, etc. and suddenly I'm no longer having a relaxing weekend. It feels like work.
But it's different when people are out visiting. Newbies are seeing everything with a fresh perspective, and their enthusiasm is contagious. It's nice to experience things again with a fresh set of eyes. So for my sister Megan's last weekend out, we headed into Goblin Valley for a rappelling expedition into the Goblin's Lair.
Goblin Valley has a handful of spooky/neat caves. They're not really caves in the classic, limestone cavern sense, but they're snazzy little alcoves made of a Entrada Sandstone. One of them is tall enough that you can do a 78-foot free rappel into it. It looks like a huge gothic cathedral with soaring sandstone walls and weird goblin-y texture. We recruited our rappelling guru Nathan, who hooked us up with harnesses and rope, and started our hike towards the back of the park.
Not to mix business with pleasure, but Goblin Valley just set up a backcounty rappelling permit system this year, so make sure you stop by the Visitor Center to fill one out before you do any technical rappelling in the park. They're free and unlimited -- we're just trying to gage use numbers and watch the resource impact.
Anyway, the top of the rappel route isn't marked, and it takes a little scrambling to find it. A GPS and map definitely come in handy. Climb-Utah.com has a great, detailed map and description of the route. Once you get to the top, you'll see some webbing above a hole. You put on your harness, hook in, scoot up to the edge, and eeeeease back into an alternate universe! Getting over the lip of a rappel always makes me nervous, but once you're hanging, there's nothing to it. Supercool.
Once everyone is down, you hike out to the back of the cave. From there, you head north, hook up with the Carmel Canyon trail, and hit the parking lot. Nice!