On Sunday I went to the Goblin Valley area to find a place to camp for next month’s geocaching event. In order to make the long drive worth it, I took the kids and we hiked to Wild Horse Window, which is a large alcove with a natural arch in the ceiling. I’ll admit that the biggest draw was a nearby geocache that was placed in April that nobody had found yet, but Wild Horse Window was worth it on its own. We first checked out a couple of potential camp sites near the junction of the Goblin Valley and Temple Mountain roads, and found one that was a little small, but would be adequate for the usually-low turnout of the fall events.
The Wild Horse Window trailhead was just a short distance from there on a slightly rough dirt road. We strapped on our backpacks and started hiking at noon, and temperatures were already in the low-90s. We hiked down into the wash and then followed it upstream to the short but fun (especially for the kids) narrows section. After the narrows we hiked out of the wash to the north and up the slickrock toward Wild Horse Window. We encountered a somewhat deep fissure in the sandstone that could have been hiked around by going a few hundred yards out of the way, but instead we found a sketchy place to slide down into it, then scrambled out the other side. On the way up toward the drainage below the alcove/arch, we found a riparian area with a few pools of water, one of which contained some tadpole shrimp. Michael and Bradley had never seen tadpole shrimp before, and they had some fun catching and holding them for a few minutes while they rested up. We got moving again and crested the ridge of sandstone we’d been steadily climbing since leaving Wild Horse Canyon, and descended a short distance into a flat sandy section about a third of a mile from our intended destination.
I was amazed when we reached Wild Horse Window–the alcove was bigger than I expected. It sucked to see all the names carved in the sandstone inside the alcove, and worse, the fake pictographs. After exploring the big alcove and the smaller one next to it, Bradley and I scrambled up to the top to look down through the arch while Michael stayed below with Torrey. By then I’d seen everything I came to see, so we reverse course and followed the little canyon downhill toward the geocache. The cache was up on the ridge south of the canyon, and it required us to scramble a bit to get there. After signing the log, we rehid the cache and dropped back into the canyon and followed it down some more. I wanted to try a more direct route back to the car, bypassing Wild Horse Canyon this time, and I let the kids do the navigation. I pointed out the car to them, which at that point was only about half a mile away as the crow flies. I showed them a landmark (a huge cottonwood tree) to use as a reference point and told them to try hiking there on their own. I followed them, with Michael taking the lead most of the time, and they did well until they lost sight of the cottonwood as we got lower in elevation and dropped down into a wash. I had to correct Michael only once when he turned the wrong way up the wash, but other than that he did a good job of finding his way back to the car. We ended up hiking about 3.5 miles in a little over 2.5 hours. Yes, we were slow, but we took our time and enjoyed exploring the area.
After the hike, I drove closer to Goblin Valley and found a very nice spot under the shade of some enormous cottonwood trees at which to eat lunch. There was a rope hanging from one of the trees, and the boys took turns swinging on it after we ate lunch. Torrey also took a swim there, as there was a good-sized pool of water in Wild Horse Creek (which rarely flows). After eating, I drove to the Little Wild Horse Canyon trailhead to look for any other potential camp spots, then we turned around and headed for home.
GPS Tracklog and Photo Waypoints (Google Earth .KMZ Format)
GPS Tracklog and Photo Waypoints (Google Maps)