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SAN JUAN COUNTY — It might take a poet several weeks to come up with the perfect words to describe the view at Goosenecks State Park.
Keith Williamson did it in a couple of seconds.
"It's spectacular,” said Williamson, who was visiting the park for the first time.
Williamson, who is from the Seattle area, saw pictures of the park while looking through a magazine a few months ago to plan for his road trip through the southeastern part of Utah.
"It wasn't until this winter that I actually had seen this place. And when I saw it, I was like, how could you not know about this place, you know?” said Williamson with a laugh.
Teri Paul, the park’s manager, says it’s a story she hears over and over again when people look over the edge for the first time and see the San Juan River flowing around land masses, creating the “goosenecks” in the landscape.
"I think people don't know about it yet,” said Paul. “We do get a lot of people from all over the world who visit here. In fact, the last few cars that came through the entrance station were all from Germany.”
Paul thinks Goosenecks State Park is overshadowed by nearby Monument Valley, Rainbow Bridges National Monument, and the Valley of the Gods.
However, the views at Goosenecks, though different, are just as breathtaking.
"You have all these really high marquee places like Canyonlands that are spectacular, but everywhere else is pretty spectacular too. And I mean, this place here is unbelievable,” said Williamson, who kept taking steps back to attempt to get the whole view in one camera frame. “I’m going to have to take a center shot, a left shot, and a right shot, then Photoshop them together.”
Goosenecks became a Utah state park in 1962, though, truthfully, the San Juan River has been carving out this area for the past hundreds of millions of years.
At the edge of the cliff at the top, it’s nearly a thousand feet to the bottom.
"It wasn't until this winter that I actually had seen this place. And when I saw it, I was like, how could you not know about this place, you know?” -Keith Williamson, park visitor
“The geology is just remarkable. You’ve got 300 million years of strata by the time you get down a thousand feet to the bottom of the river,” said Paul.
Goosenecks isn't a big park. It's only about 10 acres, just a few miles northwest of Mexican Hat off Highway 163 in San Juan County.
You can walk along the edge, have lunch at the rim, and even camp here.
The main draw, of course, is the view.
The second draw might not be so noticeable at first.
“The silence is remarkable,” said Paul. "The solitude you can find out here, I think people from the cities are craving that."
There's something about being able to see so much and hear so little.
"Returning to nature is a way to ground us and really make us feel whole,” said Paul.
Williamson now knows that feeling.
He hopes those who live in Utah never take the views and wide open spaces for granted.
Especially at Goosenecks State Park.
"This would be a national monument in most places, I would think,” said Williamson. Contributing: Mike DeBernardo