Skip to Content

Goblin Valley State Park Utah – Travel Guide

Goblin Valley State Park Utah – Travel Guide

For those who enjoy the outdoors, Goblin Valley State Park is a must-see. It’s not just that they have beautiful scenery and natural wonders to explore; it’s also because of their interesting history. The park was named after the rock formations that resemble goblins in the area, which were created by erosion over millions of years.

This place has been used for various purposes including as an American Indian grinding stone quarry, a cattle ranching ground, and even as a filming location for Westerns like “The Outlaw Josey Wales.”

Nowadays it offers campgrounds with RV hookups and tent camping options, hiking trails (including one leading to the top of Mount Harrison), picnic areas with grills available on a first-come-first-serve basis, and a visitor center.

The latter has educational exhibits on the local flora and fauna, the history of the area, and more. So whether you’re looking for an easy day hike or an overnight camping trip, Goblin Valley State Park is definitely worth checking out.

About Goblin Valley

Goblin_Valley

By Grabthar’s hammer, by the sons of Worvan, you shall be avenged… Never give up! Never surrender! 

The movie “Galaxy Quest” is a cult sci-fi favorite starring Tim Allen, but from a scenic standpoint, what stands out is a sequence in the movie where a new fuel sphere needs to be obtained.

Producers chose Goblin Valley State Park to create this scene because it naturally looks like an alien planet, but the reality is that it is one of the unique landscapes that Utah has to offer.

Located relatively near Capitol Reef National Park toward the east and Arches and Canyonlands National Parks toward the west, Goblin Valley State Park offers visitors a unique and rare landscape that can only be seen in a few places on this planet.

Often compared with Martian landscapes, at Goblin Valley, you can walk amongst the sandstone goblins, explore the geology of the park, and even bed down at night with the stone trolls and goblins protecting you.

Maybe you’ll even see some Martians scurrying about!

What to Bring to Goblin Valley State Park

Goblin Valley State Park is a unique and otherworldly place, and it’s important to be prepared before you visit.

Here are some things to keep in mind: 

First and foremost, Goblin Valley is a desert environment. That means that it can be extremely hot during the day, so make sure to pack plenty of water and sunscreen. It also gets very cold at night, so bring a warm jacket

Since you’ll be spending time hiking and exploring, comfortable shoes are a must. Closed-toed shoes are best to protect your feet from sharp rocks and cacti. And speaking of cacti, Goblin Valley is full of them Be careful where you step and consider packing long pants to avoid getting poked.

Finally, make sure to bring a camera! Goblin Valley is a place you’ll never forget, and you’ll want to have photos to remember it by.

What are the best times to visit Goblin Valley?

The best time to visit Goblin Valley State Park is during the spring or fall when the temperatures are a bit more moderate. However, if you’re looking to avoid the crowds, winter is a great time to visit. The park is open year-round, but some of the facilities may be closed during the winter.

See Related: Best Ski Resorts in America

What are the best things to do in Goblin Valley State Park?

Goblin Valley State Park is a great place for hiking and exploring. The park has over 100 miles of trails that wind through canyons, deserts, and forests. If you’re looking for something a bit more strenuous, there are also plenty of opportunities for rock climbing and mountain biking. There are also a few swimming holes in the park if you’re looking to take a break from the sun.

The park was initially discovered in the 1920s by Arthur Chaffin, who initially named the area Mushroom Valley. He and his partners were looking for a new route to take between Green River and Caineville.

That area of Utah is extremely barren and even today, after you pass Green River on the I-70, you’ll go over 100 miles before reaching another place with services available. It took nearly 20 years for Chaffin to return to the area to photograph it, which he spent several days doing in 1949.

15 years later, the State of Utah obtained the land and declared that it would be a state park. It has been open to visitors since 1974.

Are there any other activities near Goblin Valley?

If you’re looking for some more excitement, the city of Moab is just a short drive away from Goblin Valley. Moab is home to some world-famous mountain biking trails and some of the best rock climbing in the world. You can also find rafting and kayaking trips on the Colorado River, as well as amazing Jeep trails.

Hiking Trails at Goblin Valley

There are three primary hiking trails to enjoy within the park that lead you to various observation points that allow you to see the three primary valleys of hoodoos in their natural majesty and basic facilities available.

Goblin’s Lair Trail

Goblin’s Lair is the shortest and easiest hike of the three trails at just over a mile. The hike takes you to an overlook where you can see all three of the primary valleys. This is a great hike for those who want a quick and easy hike with some beautiful views.

The Witch’s Castle

The Witch’s Castle is a moderate 2.5-mile hike that takes you through a more challenging landscape with some steep inclines and descents. The hike ends at an observation point that provides beautiful views of the valley below.

The Druid’s Circle

The Druid’s Circle is the most difficult hike of the three at 3.5 miles, but it is also the most rewarding with some of the best views in the park. The hike is a strenuous climb up to the observation point, but the views are worth it.

You can see all three of the primary valleys as well as the surrounding countryside from this point.

Remember To Drink Lots of Water!

A visit to Goblin Valley during the Summer months can make for a memorable experience, but it can also lead to a fast case of heatstroke!

Desert temperatures routinely top 100F and with heat reflection, it can easily feel about 120F while you’re out hiking around to explore. It is recommended that all visitors drink a minimum of 1 gallon of water per day while visiting the park during these months.

The park is very open and the threat of thunderstorms, though uncommon, is very real. Lightning will strike high points and in the desert valleys where the sandstone trolls and goblins live, you will be one of the highest points around! Seek shelter immediately if a storm begins to form.

On the other extreme, desert winters can often become quite cold. Although moisture is fairly rare in this part of Utah, it does fall sometimes and this can lead to snowfall on the goblin formations, creating incredible photography opportunities when visiting Goblin Valley!

Where to stay near Goblin Valley

There are plenty of great places to stay near Goblin Valley State Park. If you’re looking for a campground with amazing views, the Green River valley is a great option. You can also find traditional Mongolian cabins, called yurts, as well as goblin heads in the area.

You could bring your tents down to the park to camp or maybe even your RV… or you could choose to stay in one of the yurts that are offered.

Equipped with bunk beds, a futon, and a table with four chairs, swamp coolers, and gas heaters are provided as well depending on the season. It’s just a short walk to modern amenities if you’re staying at one of the two yurts, as they are part of a 24-site campground.

Group camping is also available and pets are welcome in many parts of the park and campground. It is $60-$65 per night to rent a yurt and reservations must be made through Reserve America. Other camping options are $18-$20 per night.

If you’re not interested in camping, there are plenty of regular hotels in the area as well. The best hotels near the park are the Holiday Inn Express, River Terrace Inn, and Skyfall Guestrooms.

How to Get to Goblin Valley State Park

You can reach Goblin Valley State Park Visitor Center by taking Utah Highway 24 which is east of Green River. The park itself is about midway between I-70 and the city of Hanksville.

If you prefer modern lodging instead of camping, there are several options available in Green River for you to explore. Hanksville also has limited lodging options.

You will pass the booth at the visitor center where you pay the entrance fee and take the first left and drive about 5 miles to the entrance to Little Wild Horse Canyon and Bell Canyon.

One thing is for certain about Goblin Valley State Park… it is as beautiful as much as it is bizarre. For that reason alone, it is well worth the $15-day entrance fee.

Go horseback riding, take a hike on one of the trails on your own, or go explore the dirt roads that lead to other locations like Little Wild Horse Canyon, and enjoy one of the many gems that the State of Utah has to offer!

See Related: Best Hiking Trails in America

Attractions Near Goblin Valley State Park

If you’re an outdoorsy traveler looking for a new adventure, then you need to visit Goblin Valley State Park located just about 3.5 hours from Salt Lake City and in between both Canyonlands National Park and Capitol Reef National Park.

With its unique landscape and plethora of activities to enjoy, it’s no wonder that this park is one of Utah’s most popular tourist destinations.

Here are ten things to do near Goblin Valley that will keep you entertained for hours on end.

1. Visit the Goblin Valley Museum

This small, but the informative museum is a great place to start your visit to Goblin Valley. Learn about the history and geology of the area, and see some interesting artifacts from local settlers and Native Americans.

2. Go Hiking

The park’s trails offer hikers of all levels a challenging and rewarding experience. Choose from a variety of trails that wind through canyons, past mysterious hoodoos and goblins, and up to spectacular overlooks.

3. Take a Scenic Drive

The scenic drive through the state park’s rock formations and views of the Henry Mountains is definitely worth the trip. With its stunning views of the valley and surrounding cliffs, this drive will leave you breathless.

4. Camp Out

The park offers some of the best camping in the area. With a variety of campsites to choose from, as well as plenty of activities to keep you busy, this is the perfect place to spend a weekend or longer.

5. Go Stargazing

The dark night sky in Utah’s desert is perfect for stargazing. With hardly any light pollution, you can see thousands of stars and planets shining brightly above you.

6. Enjoy a Picnic

There are several picnic areas throughout the park, each with its own unique charm. Relax and enjoy a delicious picnic lunch while taking in the amazing scenery around you.

7. Play in the Sandstone Quarries

The sandstone quarries near the state park are a great place to explore. With its interesting rock formations and towering cliffs, this unique spot is a must-see for any visitor to the park.

8. Go Mountain Biking

The vast network of trails at Goblin Valley makes it the perfect place for mountain biking. With something for everyone, these trails will challenge you and leave you with a sense of accomplishment.

9. Visit the Devils Garden

This strange and beautiful formation is a must-see for anyone visiting. With its odd hoodoos and eerie caves, the Devils Garden is sure to leave you with a lasting impression.

10. Relax in the Natural Hot Springs

The natural hot springs are the perfect way to relax after a long day of exploring. With their healing waters and peaceful atmosphere, these hot springs are a true treasure.

FAQ

Where is Goblin Valley State Park?

Goblin Valley is located in the southeast corner of Utah, about halfway between the towns of Green River and Hanksville. The park is open year-round, but some of the facilities may be closed during the winter.

When was Goblin Valley State Park established?

Goblin Valley State Park was established in 1964.

Who manages Goblin Valley State Park?

This state park is managed by the Utah Division of Parks and Recreation.

What are the hours of operation for Goblin Valley State Park?

The park hours of operation vary depending on the season. Generally, the park is open from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. However, the hours may be shortened or extended depending on the weather.

What is the admission fee for Goblin Valley State Park?

The admission fee for Goblin Valley State Park is $15.00 for a vehicle.

What are the amenities at Goblin Valley State Park?

Goblin Valley offers hiking trails, picnic areas, and camping facilities. The park is also home to a visitor center, which offers interpretive programs and information for your visit.

Related Resources

Lock In Your Travel Now
Looking for Extra Travel Perks?
My favorite travel companion is The Platinum Card® from American Express, which gives me lounge access, Uber credits, upgrades, and plenty of other travel perks. If you want to find out the best travel rewards credit card for you, consider using CardMatch to instantly get matched to a travel rewards credit card that meets your travel needs.
Booking Flights

Use Skyscanner to book the cheapest flight possible. Skyscanner is my favorite flight search engine as you can find flights around the globe and from every airline possible. You'll be in great shape to get the best price possible.

You must grab a free trial or join Scott's Cheap Flights Premium to get cheap flight alerts directly to your email inbox. My favorite cheap flight alert was 25,000 Delta SkyMiles to London non-stop.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It's a low cost way to ensure your travel plans go smooth no matter what's thrown at it. Use World Nomads to find the best policy for your travel schedule.
Book Your Accommodation
In order to capture the widest selection of properties and the best price, use Booking.com as they have the cheapest rates for guesthouses, hotels, luxury condos, B&Bs and so much more.
Want More Destination Ideas Direct to Your Inbox?
Be sure to join the ViaTravelers Newsletter for expert tips, tricks and inspiration for your next travel journey!