Sketching Through the San Rafael Swell

There can’t be a better place to witness the Halloween full moon than Goblin Valley State Park in Utah.  We headed west in our red-rock colored 1991 Vanagon, Ruby for a five night “camping” trip.

First night of Fall camping in Palisade, Co.

Located in the San Rafael Swell, Goblin Valley State Park is surrounded by public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management, providing great hiking, sketching, and opportunities to just be in nature.  The geology of the area is incredible, and very good for my soul.

Goblin Valley has wonderful goblin shaped rock formations that are easy to walk around and admire.  Spectacular views of nearby Wild Horse Butte and Carmel Camel are just a tiny sample of the area.

Wild Horse Butte from Goblin Valley State Park in the afternoon light.

We were coming back from a hike and saw this view of the waxing moon, a couple of days before it was full, next to Wild Horse Butte.

Almost-Full Moon next to Wild Horse Butte, looking eastward.

Hiking in Little Wild Horse Canyon gave time to marvel at the layers and layers and layers of rock–colors smashed together–carved, and sculpted by flash flooding.

Walking up the wash to Little Wild Horse Canyon, I witnessed this amazing cottonwood tree, wondering how many floods it has survived…

We camped several nights near Temple Mountain, at a BLM free campground, with nightly campfires. We have had fire bans all summer in Colorado, so along with the chilly temperatures, our campfires were even more special.

Near the campground were stone dwellings and pictographs.

I wonder who inhabited the stone dwellings in the desert?
Pictographs near our campsite
Spectacular views of Temple Mountain from our campsite.

The dilapidated interpretive sign described a proud history of Uranium mining there. The miners, including their families and children, helped with the war effort in this remote uranium rich area. 

I kept thinking about a handmade sign my mom, the activist, had in our basement when I was growing up; it was a simple drawing of a flower and the words, “War is not healthy for children and other living things*” That includes the unseen kids in uranium mines in Temple Mountain, Utah, exposed to radioactive dust.

The artwork in my childhood basement, by Lorraine Schneider, is still available at The Peace Company

The rock formations take on many shapes. My favorite is Mother Eagle, carrying her baby in one arm and a huge load on her back, as women do around the world.

During our hike in Wild Horse Canyon, we had lunch next to the Eagle Mother

Our trip to the San Rafael Swell was a highlight this year. As Thanksgiving approaches, I am ever more grateful for the opportunity to explore nature, with sketchbook and watercolors, observing and marveling at our wonderful world.


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