If you’re looking for a unique and rugged land filled with goblins, gnomes and mushroom shaped desert creatures, then don’t miss Goblin Valley State Park, one of the coolest places to visit in Utah!
Goblin Valley was created by sand deposited 170 million years ago from a vast inland sea that was then sculptured by uplift and erosion by wind and water. Now we have stone gnomes and uniquely shaped goblins luring us into play.
The valley, which is only about a mile across and two miles long is filled with colorful orange and chocolate covered creatures which stand at only a few feet high.
The wind blew in all sorts of patterns and directions while we visited giving us an insight into how these gnarly creatures were formed.
Can you imagine being the cowboys searching for cattle that first stumbled upon this secluded valley? What must have they been thinking as they came upon the five buttes and a valley of strange shaped rock forms protected by a wall of eroded cliffs?
It’s surreal and unearthly landscape was even the setting for Galaxy Quest, a Hollywood movie.
Goblin Valley State Park Utah is an easy place to explore and requires only a couple hours of play time. You could stay longer if you wanted.
After a month of intensive hikes and days of exploring all the best things to do in Utah and the Southwest USA’s national parks, I was thrilled to have the ease of visiting Goblin Valley.
Is there hiking in Goblin Valley State Park?
Yes. Despite it being a playground for games of hide and seek, there are several Goblin Valley hikes you can do if you are up for it.
There are three main hiking trails within the Goblin Valley State Park:
- Carmel Canyon: 1.5 mile moderately strenuous lop down to the desert floor and amongst the goblins.
- Curtis Bench: Easy 2.1 mile return trail following the Curtis formation. It gives you an overview of Goblin Valley as well as views of the Henry Mountains.
- Entrada Canyon: an adventurous, moderately strenuous one way trail from the campground to the goblins and back.
But whilst visiting this Utah state park, you may be grateful for the opportunity to hang up the hiking boots and just play.
Or rather, let the kids play and you find yourself a cute goblin to perch on and rest.
I loved sitting and watching the kids play hide and seek and play tag amongst the maze-like valley of gnarled and knobby hoodoo like rock creatures.
They had a blast and did not want to leave.
Be gentle with the hoodoos as these creatures are soft and brittle and we want them here for another million years.
We entered the park from the main parking lot and just walked down into the field of goblins and played in an area that took the kids fancy.
I do recommend spending time to admire the views of the field of goblins and take a gentle walk amongst them.
Goblin state park is also an International Dark Sky Park. Even more reason to camp nearyby and enjoy a spectucular evening experience.
Video: Goblin Valley State Park, Utah
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Planning a Trip to Visit Goblin Valley State Park
We recommend camping overnight and staying a few extra days even to explore the surrounding San Rafael Wilderness.
It’s remote and beautiful and has plenty of outdoor adventure waiting for you like biking, hiking and 4WD Driving.
Near to where we camped was Little Wild Horse and Belly Canyons. There is a hike here that takes you scrambling over large boulders and squeezing through narrow spots that is meant to be quite fun.
You could easily visit Goblin Valley State Park as a day trip from Moab.
It’s a very easy detour and can break up the drive. Leave in the morning, spend a few hours at Goblin Valley and then head into the national park from there.
- Spring and fall are ideal times to hike in this area. Summer afternoons are very hot.
- Cost: $15 per vehicle
- The Visitor Center is open daily from 8 am to 5 pm.
Where is Goblin Valley State Park?
Goblin Valley Utah is located between Green River and Hanksville.
Follow highway 24 (beautiful scenic drive) to Temple Mountain Junction. From there it is 12 miles southwest to the park. It is about 100 miles (90 mins) Moab and 48 miles (1 hour) to Capitol Reef National Park.
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Camping near Goblin Valley State Park
We boondocked (RV dry camping/ free camping) just outside Goblin Valley State Park at Little Wild Horse Canyon. I mean look at it.
It was perfect. The kids loved our little orange shrouded nook where they could climb, hide and play. Within the crannies was a firepit, although we had quite the dust storm, so no fires for us.
I would have loved to stay here for longer than one night. It was spectacular and free.
Take a dirt road off the main road to find your free camping spot.
For Goblin Valley camping information go here.
Outside of camping, the closest accommodation would be in Green River and The River Terrace Inn comes recommended. Click here for availability and rates. It has a beautiful location on the river and is about equidistant from Arches National Park and Goblin Valley.
Places to Visit Near Goblin Valley State Park
- Arches NP: 11 Amazing Things to do in Arches National Park
- Canyonlands NP: 12 Incredible Things to do in Canyonlands National Park
- Capitol Reef NP: 12 Don’t-Miss Things to Do in Capitol Reef National Park
More Places to Visit in Utah
- Monument Valley: 15 Amazing Things To Do In Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park
- Zion NP: Ultimate Guide – 14 Things To Do in Zion National Park
- American Southwset: 14 Epic Adventures in the American Southwest Not To Miss
- And don’t miss these: 20 Incredible Places to Visit in Utah For Your Utah Road Trip