The Goblin Colony – Ponderosa, New Mexico - Atlas Obscura

The Goblin Colony

Ponderosa, New Mexico

On the edge of the Valles Caldera National Preserve, these rock formations create an eerie landscape. 


Just north of Paliza Canyon and the Paliza Group Campground are a few unique features of high desert geology.

Unlike other hoodoos, these volcanic rock formations are filled with eroded holes that resemble distorted human faces. Those who have happened upon this elusive area dubbed the space, The Goblin Colony. There is no established trail to the formations, so exploring the colony is a bit of a choose-your-own-adventure hike.

While the formations are certainly the main draw, don’t breeze past the panoramic views of the canyon and surrounding Jemez Mountains. There are various collections of weird and wonderful desert flora around the region such as Alligator junipers. 

The formations are fragile, so please respect and preserve this unique area by not climbing on the hoodoos.

Know Before You Go

To reach the Goblin Colony, head north on Forest Road 271 from Paliza Canyon, about half a mile past the entrance to the Paliza Family Campground.

Using GPS and checking out routes other explorers have mapped out in the sources below will help make the most of your hike.

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