Visit Goblin Valley State Park to discover one of the most suggestive and fascinating “secret” places of that natural wonder like Utah is.
Try to imagine walking free among thousands of Hoodoos, identified by the local Natives as Goblins, ancient and maleficent mythological figures, actually mushroom-shaped rocky pinnacles – often and however over 2 meters high. They were formed over time by blocks of brownstone with a layer of stone resistant to erosion on the top and by the presence of some relatively softer rock and ductile at the base.
The Goblin Valley State Park and its more famous “neighbor” Bryce Canyon National Park – the two parks are located about 250km far from each other – hold the record of the highest concentration of natural Hoodoos in the world.
A real shame going through the Scenic ByWay 24 from Moab as far as Capitol Reef National Park and not to stop admiring this umpteenth natural wonder of Utah.
Visit Goblin Valley State Park: history and anecdotes
San Raphael desert – including the Goblin Valley State Park – has been inhabited by the local groups of Fremont, Paiute and Ute Natives since ever. The park itself is rich in rupestrian witnesses and inscriptions related to their passage.
The Goblin Valley remained unknown to the civilization until 1920 when first cowboys looking for cattle and successively explorers searching for new commercial routes arrived as far as here.
What they found in front of themselves – after have reached a viewpoint little far from the valley – was a boundless expanse of odd mushroom-shaped rocky formations neighbored by a wall of eroded cliffs – for this reason the whole area was named Mushroom Valley.
In order to avoid vandalism acts against the Hoodoos following the massive arrival of tourists, Utah bought the entire property and founded the Goblin Valley State Reserve, turning the valley into the State Park on August 24th, 1964.
Visit Goblin Valley State Park: how to arrive
The detour for the Goblin Valley State Park is located on the Scenic ByWay 24, between Green River and Hanksville, about 162km far from Moab and 95km far from Capitol Reef National Park.
It takes other 17km on temple Mt Rd from the road sign indicating the entrance to reach the proper park.
Since it is a State Park, admission is not included in the US Park Pass. $20 fee each car.
The Goblin Valley State Park is opened 7 days a week 6am-10pm.
Visit Goblin Valley State Park: what to see
Just overpassed the Visitor Center – you can download the park’s brochure with the detailed map here – and taken the Goblin Valley Road you’ll realize that Goblins are practically everywhere around you. And they are easily accessible thanks to short and average trails leaving from the several parking areas.
The entire State Park is divided into three valleys – simply called Valley 1-2-3 – following one another starting from the big parking with Observation Point at the end of the asphalted road.
From here, you can keep going free on foot in Valley 1 – it is the more accessible and so the most visited area of the park. If you have time and you want to go beyond, towards the two most remote valleys, you’ll have to reckon at least 2 hours’ walking.
- Three Sisters – very easy loop of about few hundreds meters to admire close up the great attraction of the park, the Three Sisters
- Carmel Canyon Trail – a 2,5km loop leaving from the Observation Point and allowing to get access also to some bottleneck of a small Slot Canyon
- Goblin’s Lair – a harder path of 5km leaving from the Carmel Canyon and leading to the Goblin’s Lair, a sort of cave/slot canyon
- Entrada Canyon Trail and Curtis Bench Trail – two different trails leaving from the Goblin Valley Campground with unusual views of the Goblins and the Henry Mountains
Visit Goblin Valley State Park: one further tip for the Slot Canyon lovers
If you have time, once finished the tour of the Goblin Valley, reach the near Little Wild Horse canyon & Bell Canyon Trailhead located about 10km far, going along the Wild Horse Rd from the crossroad for the Visitor Center.
It is a very beautiful and suggestive Slot Canyon fit for families with children, too.
The main attraction is the long Narrows trait: they are passages where the walls of the canyon are so close that you have to turn on one side in order to go on. The complete trail is quite long and hard – about 12km: if you don’t have time enough, my tip is to keep going for about 2km and then come back.
Remember not to enter the canyon if it’s going to rain during the day: the floods which generates suddenly can be extremely dangerous.
Visit Goblin Valley State Park: where to sleep
Inside the park it is possible to camping in a precise area, the Goblin Valley Campground.
24 equipped parking areas for caravans and two Yurt – the typical tents used by nomads of the Asian desert, with all essential comforts – with toilets in the area are available.
Please, click here for further info about prices and to book your stay.
If you come from Moab, you can reckon to visit Goblin Valley State Park late in the morning – about 165km – and then go on towards Capitol Reef with an overnight stay in Torrey. Or if you come from Capitol Reef in the opposite way you can visit the park by day and so stop for the night in the near Green River to reach then Moab the following morning.
Visit Goblin Valley State Park: The Duke’s Slickrock Grill experience in Hanksville
Hanksville is a small town 50km about far from the Goblin Valley State Park. It is on the Scenic ByWay 24 short after the crossroads with Hwy 95, towards Capitol Reef.
It is considered a sort of “gate” to the wonders of Utah and so used as strategic base camp for not only the tour of Goblin Valley, but also Capitol Reef National Park, Natural Bridges National Monument, Henry Mountains and many other natural attractions.
My tip is to stop and have a meal at Duke’s Slickrock Grill, a pure country style very local restaurant with commemorating pictures dedicated to the undisputed “king” of West, John Wayne.
Here you can taste delicious Ribs (among the best ones eaten in Utah), soups, smoked meat, stews and very rich salads. Definitely abundant portions, average prices.
You can also reckon to stay overnight in the adjoining cabins, extremely cared and refined, or in the near camping.
Both are run by Duke’s Slickrock Campground. Find here further info about it, besides the possibility to book your accommodation directly.