BLM Utah conveys land to Utah State Parks and Emery County

Story and photos by Angela Hawkins, Public Affairs Specialist

In 1949, Arthur Chaffin, returning to an area he called Mushroom Valley, spent several days exploring the mysterious valley and photographing its scores of intricately eroded stone creatures that later inspired its name, ‘Goblin Valley.’

Formations that look like goblins in Goblin Valley
A “goblin” stands steady in the coming storm.

Publicity attracted visitors to the valley despite its isolated and harsh territory. In 1954, it was proposed that Goblin Valley be protected from vandalism. The area was acquired by the state of Utah and on August 24, 1964, was officially designated a state park. 

Visitors to Goblin Valley walking through the hoodoos.
Visitors explore the impressive hoodoos.

Now the state park has tripled in size thanks to a recent land conveyance from BLM Utah. On June 17, 2022, BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning and Utah State Director Greg Sheehan visited the area and signed over 6,300 acres to Utah State Parks and Emery County. The event was well attended with several members of the public, BLM management, Utah state representatives, congressional staffers, and Emery County elected officials present.

BLM and partners holding signed land conveyance patents.
BLM and partners holding signed land conveyance patents.

The land conveyances, mandated through the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act of 2019, will ensure that the over 500,000 yearly visitors to Goblin Valley State Park have room to roam.

The process started in 2019 when the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act was enacted. The land conveyance was the result of a coordinated effort between the Vernal Field Office, Price Field Office, and the Utah State Office. It required consultations with the Tribal Historic Preservation Office and State Historic Preservation Office, meetings and communications with right-of-way holders and grazing permittees, a presentation to the San Rafael Swell Recreation Area Advisory Council, two detailed Environmental Site Assessments, and a number of cadastral surveys.

BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning and Utah State Director Greg Sheehan with an Emery County partner.
BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning and Utah State Director Greg Sheehan with an Emery County partner.
BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning in front of the Goblin Valley Lookout.
BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning in front of the Goblin Valley Lookout.

Included in the land transfer is a site for a new Emery County Sheriff’s Substation and a space to educate the public on the area at Buckhorn Information Center, highlighting a long-standing partnership between Emery County and the BLM.