The Big Wildhorse Mesa Wilderness surrounds the Goblin Valley State Park on three sides. This sparsely vegetated landscape bares its geology to be easily observed. Capped and protected from erosion by the Morrison Formation, the distinctive Summerville Formation creates striking cliffs made up of thin beds of chocolate, bone, and green colored shale, siltstone, and sandstone. These delicately striped buttes are further laced with veinlets of gypsum that run nearly perpendicular to the thin sedimentary rock layers of the cliffs. Below these buttes are red/brown slopes which give way to the greenish-gray Curtis Formation. The greenish color comes from glauconite, an iron mineral formed in ocean sediments that reveals this layer’s underwater origin. Finally, in a few locations of the wilderness, the Entrada formation can be found, which is the layer in which the “goblins” form. Bring plenty of water, as summer temperatures can be extreme and the areas is exceptionally dry.
Leave No Trace
How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Big Wild Horse Mesa Wilderness.
The San Rafael Swell is close to 1 million acres in size from Green River, UT west to highway 10 and Wayne County to the South. Cedar Mountain forms the northern boundary.
Digital and paper maps are critical tools for wilderness visitors. Online maps can help you plan and prepare for your visit ahead of time. You can also carry digital maps with you on your GPS unit or other handheld GPS device. Having a paper map with you in the backcountry, as well as solid orienteering skills, however, ensures that you can still route-find in the event that your electronic device fails.
Motorized equipment and equipment used for mechanical transport is generally prohibited in all wilderness areas.
This includes the use of motor vehicles, motorboats, motorized equipment, bicycles, hang gliders, wagons, carts, portage wheels, and the landing of aircraft including helicopters.