As we left Torrey, we did not have a nailed-down plan for the day. We headed toward Green River, UT on SR-24 and were on the lookout for interesting places to investigate. As we crossed a very desolate area of high desert, we saw signs for Goblin Valley State Park and decided to check it out.
Utah once again had an unexpected surprise for us. Goblin Valley is a series of five buttes and a valley of strange-shaped rock formations (goblins) surrounded by a wall of eroded cliffs. The park brochure explains that the area was sculpted by forces of nature acting on deposits of Entrada sandstone laid down 170 million years ago by a vast inland sea. Some goblins resemble trolls or garden gnomes, while others look like mushrooms. We even spotted one that resembled Steven Spielberg’s E.T.
After spending time with the goblins, we headed on to Green River. Our options for entertainment were limited in the sprawling metropolis (population 943), so we decided to check out the John Wesley Powell River History Museum.
We were intrigued as we learned the story of Powell and his band of frontiersmen, who embarked on an expedition down the Green and Colorado Rivers to study and document the previously-unexplored region. We watched a short film, which chronicled their journey. As they travelled down the rivers in wooden boats in 1869, they experienced a series of hardships, including the loss of boats and supplies, near-drownings and the departure of some crew.
Particularly impressive was the fact that Powell survived the expedition through the rugged territory with only one arm. His right arm was amputated below the elbow after being wounded by a musket ball in the Battle of Shiloh in the Civil War. Also intriguing was the fact that three of the men, who abandoned the journey prior to a particularly-treacherous stretch of rapids, were never seen or heard from again.
We struggled to put our evening happy hour together at the River Terrace Inn. We found ourselves eating two-toned, plastic-tasting cheese that was purchased from the mini mart of a local gas station – not exactly our best effort. However, all was not lost as we found great burgers and a very friendly server at Ray’s Tavern.