Planning a trip to Utah? If you’re looking to escape the crowds and visit Mars-like landscapes, consider a day trip to Goblin Valley State Park in Central Utah. At this park, you can roam amongst thousands of goblins (and we’re not talking about the mischievous monsters from the movies).
Goblin Valley State Park earns its name for the surreal setting that consists of unique rock formations often referred to as goblins. With short hiking trails and epic overlooks, there is plenty to explore at this bizarre park!
In this post, we share everything you need to know about visiting Goblin Valley State Park, and why it should be on top of your list when visiting Utah!
Guide To Visiting Goblin Valley State Park:
- Where Is Goblin Valley State Park Located?
- How Much Does It Cost To Visit Goblin Valley?
- Why You Should Visit Goblin Valley State Park
- Goblin Valley Campground & Yurts
- Where To Stay Nearby
- Best Time To Visit Goblin Valley
- What To See & Do At Goblin Valley State Park
- Other Visitor Tips
Where Is Goblin Valley State Park Located?
Goblin Valley State Park is located in a remote part of Central Utah. There is nothing around for miles so be sure to get plenty of gas and supplies like food & water before heading into this park.
The closest town to Goblin Valley is Hanksville, 35 minutes south of it. You can also stay in Green River which is located 50-minutes north. From Green River, it’s a straightforward and easy drive to Goblin Valley State Park on paved roads the entire time.
If you’re wondering if you need a 4WD car to visit this park – you don’t. We had a small rental car for our visit that managed it just fine.
There is a paved highway called Goblin Valley Road that travels through this park. It ends at the Goblin Overlook where you can park your car and explore a few of the nearby hikes.
Goblin Valley State Park is located in an isolated area, so there is no reception once you head out there. I recommend looking up things to do ahead of time and having a plan in mind.
I usually mark all the top highlights on Google Maps and then download an offline version of it. This allows me to see where all the attractions and hikes are located on a map even when I lose reception.
Location: Goblin Valley Rd, Green River, UT 84525
How Much Does It Cost To Visit Goblin Valley?
Once you reach the Goblin Valley State Park gates, you will need to stop and pay the entrance fee.
Currently, it costs $20 to enter and visit Goblin Valley State Park. The entrance pass is valid for 2 days so you can return the next day and explore more of the park if you run out of time. All in all, this is a pretty small State Park and you can see most of the main highlights within a few hours.
At the entrance gate, you will also be given a map of the park and its main hikes. If you want to learn more, you can pull over and check out the visitor center that displays information about this area and the unique rock formations that can be found here.
Unlike Arches National Park, you don’t need a reservation to visit Goblin Valley State Park. This park is not very crowded and only sees a small portion of the visitors, unlike its nearby National Park counterparts.
Why You Should Visit Goblin Valley State Park
Utah has some of the most beautiful (and strange-looking) parks in the United States. But while most people flock to Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, other unique areas like Goblin Valley are often overlooked.
Goblin Valley State Park is worth a visit because here you can explore Mars-like landscapes that consist of orange sandstone formations called hoodoos. These unique rock shapes have been formed by erosion for 140-170 million years and are unlike anything I’ve seen before.
Millions of years ago this area was part of an ancient inland sea that received lots of various sand deposits. This eventually led to alternating layers of sandstone and siltstone that eventually uplifted and started weathering. Over the years the softer layers eroded with wind and water creating these mushroom-like formations that we can see today.
Goblin Valley State Park is a great place to visit for families with kids. Here you can freely roam around these interesting rock pinnacles and explore them up close.
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Goblin Valley Campground & Yurts
Camping is one of the top experiences that you can have at Goblin Valley State Park. But with limited campsite availability, you will need to make reservations well in advance!
Goblin Valley has 25 standard campsites and 2 yurts that you can book for an overnight stay. The yurts are tucked away in between towering red rock formations while the campsites are clustered together.
The standard campsite fee is $35/night and the sites come with a fire pit, a picnic table, and a shaded awning to help with the summer heat. If you plan to bring multiple cars, it costs $20 per additional vehicle.
There are only 2 yurts at the campground which makes it very hard to reserve them. Unless you’re pretty flexible with your schedule, they’re usually booked up months in advance. Currently, the yurts cost $100 per night.
Yurt 1 is hidden away from the road providing a more private experience.
Yurt 2 is located closer to the road and bathrooms but also has a patio with clear views of the open desert landscape in front of it.
Where To Stay Nearby
Aside from trying to book a campground, your best option is to book a hotel in Green River town. During our visit, we stayed at Americas Best Value Inn Green River Hotel which offers clean, comfortable rooms along with a simple complimentary breakfast.
Green River is a small town but it has a few fun eateries like Tamarisk Restaurant which has an extensive menu and sits next to the river. Tacos La Pasadita is a unique Mexican food truck located in an old gas station that has been turned into a restaurant.
If you’re looking to stay in a bigger town, Moab is a great place to make as a home base while exploring Utah. This is where we headed after we visited Goblin Valley but it is 1.5 hours from the park gates.
Best Time To Visit Goblin Valley
Spring and fall are the best times to visit Goblin Valley State Park when the weather is mild. In the summer months heat picks up in the desert and the temperatures can spike past 100 degrees. This can be very dangerous for hiking since there is very little to no shade at this park.
If you do plan to visit Goblin Valley between June to September, be sure to bring plenty of water with you. Stick to shorter hikes so you can return to your car easily if you start feeling sick from the heat and avoid hiking in the middle of the day.
We visited Goblin Valley in early May and the weather was just perfect staying in the mid 75’s during the day. In the winter, desert temperatures do drop to freezing, especially at night.
What To See & Do At Goblin Valley State Park
While Goblin Valley State Park is quite small compared to some of the other nearby parks, there are plenty of adventures that you can do here centering around scenic drives, hiking, and camping.
If you arrive early enough, it’s possible to see all of the top Goblin Valley attractions in a single day.
Here are some of our favorites things to do at this park:
1. Goblin Overlook
Observation Point is the first stop that you should check out at this park – especially if it’s the only thing you have time for.
Goblin Overlook is a drive-up viewpoint with a large parking lot next to it where you can park your car. Several hiking trails start from this location with the Goblin Valley being the most popular of them.
If you’re not up for a hike, you can enjoy the views from the shaded gazebo that has picnic tables for resting. Restrooms are also located within a short walk from the viewpoint.
- Location: Goblin Overlook
2. Goblin Valley
From the overlook, you can take stairs down into the Goblin Valley and walk amongst thousands of hoodoos. There are 3 different “Valleys” that cover several miles of terrain, but we only made it as far as the First Valley.
There isn’t a straightforward path through The Valleys as these strange rock formations span in all directions. I recommend downloading an offline map ahead of time so you can find your way back to the car as the landscape looks very similar all around.
Kids especially love exploring this location as it allows “free-roaming”. But keep an eye on where you step as accidental falls are the main cause of injury at this park.
- Location: Goblin Valley
3. Carmel Canyon Trail
Carmel Canyon is a short loop that starts next to the parking lot and travels down into the canyon before climbing back up.
To begin the trail, walk to the end of the parking lot by Goblin Overlook. From there take the narrow path along the cliff. When the trail starts descending, you might start slipping on the loose sand so good hiking shoes are highly recommended for this trail.
When you reach the bottom of the canyon, follow the metal beams that have been placed to keep track of the trail. The trail will follow a dry desert floor for some time. Every so often you’ll see some flowers which show how resilient the desert plants truly are.
Eventually, the loop will start climbing back up towards the parking lot. You can also go on a quick side-detour to Three Sisters rock formations to see them up close.
- Distance: 1.5-mile long loop
- Elevation gain: 100 feet
- Location: Carmel Canyon Trail
4. The Three Sisters
The Three Sisters is a weathered rock formation that consists of three tall pillars which are clustered together.
This recognizable attraction is situated 0.25 miles from the main road so you can park your car and easily walk up to it to snap a photo. For a longer option, you can extend the hike and connect with Carmel Canyon Trail.
- Location: The Three Sisters
5. Curtis Bench Trail
The Curtis Bench Trail was one of my favorite hikes at this park. This is a hidden gem that requires you to venture off the main highway. Not many people do so we hiked this trail without another person in sight for miles.
After parking in a dirt lot, we spotted the trailhead for the Curtis Bench Trail. The hike is 2 miles long round trip and follows a ridge to an overlook of Goblin Valley and the Henry Mountains from up top.
From this viewpoint, you can see the orange desert landscape and thousands of strange-looking goblins that are scattered throughout this park.
- Distance: 2 miles out and back
- Elevation gain: 100 feet
- Location: Curtis Bench Trailhead
6. Goblin Valley State Park Canyoneering Adventure
For something a bit more adventurous, consider signing up for a guided canyoneering tour at Goblin Valley State Park.
This is a 4-hour long tour that involves hiking, scrambling, and rappelling into the Goblin’s Lair cave (also known as the Chamber of the Basilisk). A thrilling experience that you will remember for a lifetime!
7. The Goblin’s Lair Trail
If you want to visit Goblin’s Lair without the tour, you can hike to it as well! This is a strenuous 3-mile out and back hike that requires some advanced scrambling skills.
Along the way, you can also enjoy views of Molly’s Castle and the Gilson Buttes formations.
- Distance: 3 miles out and back
- Elevation gain: 150 feet
8. Entrada Canyon Trail
This is a moderate trail that you can hike from the campground to Observation Point & Goblin Valley or vice versa. This hike follows natural drainage through hills with interesting views around every corner.
- Distance: 1.5 miles one way
- Elevation gain: 150 feet
- Location: Entrada Canyon Trailhead
9. Mountain Biking
Goblin Valley State Park has a section called Wild Horse Trail System with designated mountain biking paths. The Wild Horse Trail System consists of 5 different mountain biking loops for a total of 7 miles.
Outside of that, biking is only allowed on roads and in paved areas within parking lots and campgrounds. Biking is not allowed on the hiking trails or in the Goblin Valley.
10. Star Gazing
Goblin Valley is located in a remote part of Utah with no light pollution around for miles. This makes Goblin Valley the perfect location for star gazing and seeing the Milky Way due to its very dark night skies.
As an option, you can sign up for a monthly ranger-led night program or do some star gazing on your own.
Other Visitor Tips
Before you head out to Goblin Valley State Park, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- There are no gas stations nearby so you will need to fill up on gas before leaving.
- There is no drinking water or food at the park so come prepared with plenty of water and food for the day. I saw a water pump by the entrance but I’m not sure if it was for drinking water.
- Dogs are allowed at Goblin Valley State Park but must stay on leash and be cleaned up after.
- Droning is only allowed with a permit. You can try to get a droning permit at the visitor center for a $10 fee.
- Due to erosion, the rock formations can be unstable. Climbing on top of goblins could lead to falls and injuries.
- It is illegal to knock over the delicate hoodoo formations on purpose. People have received criminal charges in the past for doing so.
We hope this guide has helped you prepare for a wonderful visit to Goblin Valley State Park! Looking for more Utah travel inspiration? Be sure to check out some of our other popular Utah travel posts below:
- 10 Of The Best Arches To Visit In Arches National Park
- 12 Best Places To Stay In Moab For An Incredible Trip
- Staying At The Hyatt Place In Moab, Utah
- 12 Top Rated Places To Stay Near Arches National Park
- The Ultimate Guide To Visiting Arches National Park
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