Several Hollywood movies have filmed scenes in Goblin Valley, Utah, but the most prominent was Galaxy Quest, released in 1999. A loving homage to old sci-fi TV shows like Star Trek, Galaxy Quest stars Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, and a few other big-name actors as the cast of a cancelled sci-fi series from the 1970s. When aliens intercept a broadcast of the series, they mistakenly believe the actors are a real starship crew and enlist their help to defeat a galactic warlord.
Partway through the film, the crew is forced to land on a desert planet inhabited by strange alien rock monsters. These scenes were shot in Goblin Valley State Park and, once you’ve seen the park for yourself, it’s easy to see why the filmmakers were drawn to its otherworldly landscape. The unique mushroom-shaped rock formations that cover the park, called hoodoos, make Goblin Valley feel like a place not quite of this Earth and directly influenced the design of the rock monsters in the movie. We highly recommend that any sci-fi fans watch Galaxy Quest before their trip to Goblin Valley, not just because it’s a great movie but also because the areas of the park where it was filmed are very recognizable.
Goblin Valley was also prominently featured in Terrence Malick’s experimental coming-of-age film, The Tree of Life. Towards the end of the movie, an adult version of the protagonist, played by Sean Penn, steps into an elevator at his workplace and finds himself in a strange desert landscape, filmed in Goblin Valley. The scene is both eerie and beautiful, making Goblin Valley the perfect backdrop for it. The park also appears in the Billy Crystal comedy sequel City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly’s Gold, but the less said about that film, the better as far as we’re concerned.
Essential Travel Guide: