Goblin Valley State Park: Best Things to See & Do

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Goblin Valley State Park Sign

Goblin Valley State Park is a must-see for those who enjoy the outdoors. It’s not just that they have beautiful scenery and natural wonders to explore; it’s also because of their exciting 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 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 worth checking out.

About Goblin Valley

Goblin Valley State Park, Utah

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 film 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 park’s geology, 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 Formations

Goblin Valley State Park is a unique and otherworldly place, and it’s essential 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 it can be boiling during the day, so pack plenty of water and sunscreen. It also gets freezing at night, so bring a warm jacket

Since you’ll be 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 spring or fall when the temperatures are slightly more moderate. However, winter is a great time to see if you’re looking to avoid crowds. The park is open year-round, but some 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 Sign

Goblin Valley State Park is an excellent 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 more strenuous, there are plenty of opportunities for rock climbing and mountain biking. There are also a few swimming holes in the park if you want to take a break from the sun.

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

That area of Utah is highly 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. Fifteen years later, Utah obtained the land and declared it a state park. It has been open to visitors since 1974.

Are there any other activities near Goblin Valley?

If you’re looking for more excitement, the city of Moab is just a short drive 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 and fantastic Jeep trails.

Hiking Trails at Goblin Valley

Goblin Valley Hike

Three primary hiking trails within the park lead you to various observation points that allow you to see the three primary valleys of hoodoos in their natural majesty and the 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 walk takes you to an overlook where you can see all three primary valleys. This is an excellent hike for those who want a quick, easy hike with 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 walk ends at an observation point that provides beautiful views of the valley below.

The Druid’s Circle

The Druid’s Circle is the most challenging 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 walk is a strenuous climb up to the observation point, but the ideas are worth it.

From this point, you can see all three primary valleys and the surrounding countryside.

Remember To Drink Lots of Water!

Man Drinking Water

A visit to Goblin Valley during the summer 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 quickly feel about 120F while 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.

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

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

Where to stay near Goblin Valley

Hotel Room

There are plenty of great places to stay near Goblin Valley State Park. The Green River Valley is an excellent option if you’re looking for a campground with amazing views. You can also find traditional Mongolian cabins, yurts, and goblin heads.

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

Group camping is also available; pets are welcome in many parts of the park and campground. Renting a yurt is $60-$65 per night, and reservations must be made through Tentrr. Other camping options are $18-$20 per night.

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

See Related: Best Parks in Utah

How to Get to Goblin Valley State Park

Goblin Valley State Park Road Scenery

You can reach Goblin Valley State Park Visitor Center by taking Utah Highway 24 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, several options are available in Green River. Hanksville also has limited lodging options.

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

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

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

See Related: Best Hiking Trails in America

Attractions Near Goblin Valley State Park

Suppose you’re an outdoorsy traveler looking for a new adventure. In that case, you need to visit Goblin Valley State Park, just about 3.5 hours from Salt Lake City and between Canyonlands National Park and Capitol Reef National Park.

With its unique landscape and plethora of activities, it’s no wonder this park is one of Utah’s most popular tourist destinations. Here are the best things to do near Goblin Valley that will keep you entertained for hours.

1. Visit the Goblin Valley Museum

This small but informative museum is excellent for visiting 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

Goblin Valley State Park Hiking

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

3. Take a Scenic Drive

Goblin Valley Scenic Road

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

4. Camp Out

Camping Tent

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

5. Go Stargazing

Man Stargazing

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

6. Enjoy a Picnic

Picnic Basket

The park has several picnic areas, each with its unique charm. Relax and enjoy a delicious picnic lunch while enjoying the fantastic scenery.

7. Play in the Sandstone Quarries

Goblin Valley Hiker

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

8. Go Mountain Biking

Man Mountain Biking

Goblin Valley’s vast network of trails 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. The Devils Garden will leave a lasting impression with its odd hoodoos and eerie caves.

10. Relax in the Natural Hot Springs

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

FAQ

Where is Goblin Valley State Park?

Goblin Valley is located in the southeast corner of Utah, about halfway between Green River and Hanksville. The park is open year-round, but some 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?

The Utah Division of Parks and Recreation manages this state park.

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

The park’s 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 also has a visitor center, which offers interpretive programs and information for your visit.

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Kyle Kroeger
WRITTEN BY

Kyle Kroeger

Kyle Kroeger is the Founder and Owner of ViaTravelers.com. He is a full-time traveler and entrepreneur. Kyle started ViaTravelers.com to help travelers experience a fully immersive cultural experience as he did initially living in Italy. He's a converted finance nerd and Excel jockey turned world wanderer (and may try to get lost on purpose). After visiting 12 countries and 13 national parks in a year, he was devoted to creating and telling stories like he'd heard.

Plus, after spending more time on airplanes and packing, he's learned some incredible travel hacks over time as he earned over 1 million Chase Ultimate Rewards points in under a year, helping him maximize experiences as much as possible to discover the true meaning of travel.

He loves listening to local stories from around the world and sharing his experiences traveling the globe. He loves travel so much that he moved from his hometown of Minneapolis to Amsterdam with his small family to travel Europe full-time. Read more about his portfolio of work.

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