Goblin Valley State Park: Your Ultimate Guide to the Underrated, Surreal State Park

Updated On: January 02, 2023

Goblin Valley State Park

Goblin Valley State Park is a unique location along the San Rafael Reef, south of Interstate 70. Known as one of Utah’s most well-liked state parks, Goblin Valley State Park has a distinctive 3,654-acre setting. Additionally, it offers visitors an exceptional hiking experience with countless route alternatives via numerous valleys dotted with these fascinating sandstone hoodoos.

The park features a spot where soft sandstone has worn into intriguing goblin-like shapes. Millions of years of erosion have shaped the tall Entrada Sandstone pillars into the strange formations that dot this arid valley. In some spots, the close formations create a maze-like playground excellent for family explorations. Off-road trail exploration is allowed in the region.

The area became accessible to the public as a state park in 1964. Goblin Valley State Park’s spooky environment inspired the Hollywood film Galaxy Quest, which was shot there. Here is our guide to this one-of-a-kind park!

What is the Best Time to Visit Goblin Valley State Park?

The best seasons to visit Goblin Valley are spring and fall when the weather is warm, and the temperatures are slightly lower. Although the park is always open, some amenities could be closed in the winter. The desert heats up in the summer when there is minimal shelter, and temperatures can soar past 100 degrees. Although snow is possible in the winter, it is still a perfect time to visit if you want to avoid crowds.

How to Get to Goblin Valley State Park?

The best means of transportation to the park is to take a bus from the closest airport to Green River and then a car to get there. There is no direct transport from the nearby airports to the Goblin Valley State Park. 

Memorable Things to Do in Goblin Valley State Park

Camping, hiking, mountain biking, and disc golf are exciting things visitors can enjoy nearby. The Wild Horse Trail System is a seven-mile network looping beginner to intermediate single-track mountain bike routes. Even children can roam around, play hide-and-seek, and explore every inch of this fantastic location.

Explore The Goblin Valleys

Three distinct “valleys” stretch across a distance of several miles. You can descend several stairs into the Goblin Valley from the viewpoint and walk amid thousands of hoodoos and goblins, making you feel like you are on another planet. The closest valley to the parking lot is Valley 1. Right next to Valley 1 is Valley 2. The location of Goblin’s Lair lies behind Valley 2. Although both zones are incredible, the most fabulous valley to examine the hoodoos is Valley 3.

Hiking

Goblin Valley State Park
Goblin Valley State Park, Utah, USA

Visitors can have an exceptional hiking experience with countless route possibilities in Goblin Valley. Goblin Valley State Park has five hiking paths, making it simple to visit in a couple of hours. Off-trail exploration of the hoodoos is one of the most enjoyable aspects of hiking in Goblin Valley. However, note that utmost caution is advised to protect the structures, which have been developed over millions of years. You can decide how far and for how long you want to hike, but allow at least an hour or more to do so. Here are the five hiking trails:

  • The Three Sisters
  • Entrada Canyon
  • Curtis Bench Trail
  • Carmel Canyon Loop
  • Goblin’s Lair

Canyoning

The Goblin’s Lair, also known as the Chamber of the Basilisk, is a beautiful feature of the Goblin Valley State Park, situated in the San Rafael Swell region. The slot canyon in the Chamber of the Basilisk vanishes into a hole in the ground, making it unique. The opening leads to a sizable, magnificent underground hall with breathtaking views. You don’t need a headlamp because the ceiling has several sizable holes.

It is a slot canyon that resembles a cave and extends 70 feet through a sandstone cavern. Beginners and other groups have found it to be trendy, so most people visit it during their canyoning journey. It is a unique and beautiful experience to descend into the lair. This straightforward route is enjoyable for both new and seasoned canyoneers. Beginners will find its quick approach, quick descent, and simple rappel appealing. The deep crevice can be entered by rappelling, and those with canyoneering experience can trek back out the east side.

Mountain Biking

goblin valley state park
Wild Horse Butte Fall Colors in Utah

Five different circular paths make up the Wild Horse Mesa Mountain Bike Trail system. It offers breathtaking vistas of the San Rafael Swell and enormous rock buttes. In June 2015, the seven-mile paths were made available for biking. Although the paths don’t go through any hoodoo-like formations, you can view the San Rafael Swell. It is one of Utah’s and the United States‘ best-kept secrets.

Riders of all levels, inexperienced and experts, can access the trails. You need to bike at least 8.7 miles and ascend 800 vertical feet to cover every part of the path. Beautiful agate and jasper geodes may be found along a large portion of the mountain biking tracks in Goblin Valley. Visitors are not allowed to take any of them home.

Here are the five trails:

  • Dark Side of the Moon Loop
  • Desert View Trail Loop
  • Buffalo Head Trail Loop
  • Lizard Foot Trail
  • Landslide Trail Loop

The first loop option, Buffalo Head, provides two-way traffic. The remaining ones all follow a specific path. A viewpoint on grey ledges of the Curtis Formation at the trail’s southern terminus offers views of the Henry Mountains towards the southwest. This path ends with the Landslide trail.

The Desert View trail comes next. It brings you to the spectacular San Rafael Swell overlook, which has some exposure. Desert View also includes a lot of scenic vistas, including a great lookout over the campground. There are maps available with your location highlighted for simple navigation.

Goblin Valley Camping

Goblin Valley State Park has a tiny campsite with 24 spots that can be booked in advance. We recommend making reservations for camping in advance. Both solitary and shared camps are available with views of Wild Horse Butte.

Yurts, typical Mongolian cabins, are also an option and are situated between the goblin heads and the pinnacles. They are considerably more expensive. Although they are equipped with bunk beds and are reachable by car, visitors must bring their own pillows and blankets. There is room for up to five visitors in each yurt. They are air-conditioned and heated for summer and winter.

The main campground is situated just outside the “Valley of the Goblins,” surrounded by stunning scenery and other rock formations. The sites offered in Goblin Valley may accommodate RVs, and recreational vehicles, up to 59 feet long. There is a sewage disposal facility nearby. The park has flushing toilets, showers, a free water station, and a disposal area.

Year-round access is available to Goblin Valley State Park, its campground, and its yurts. In terms of weather, spring and fall are the ideal periods to travel. It is recommended to bring all the food and camping gear you’ll need as the nearest town where you can find services is 33 miles away, the village of Hanksville. You will also need a full gas tank. On the Goblin Valley paths, leashed dogs are allowed.

Stargazing

Goblin Valley State Park
Stargazing is one of the most enjoyable and memorable activities to do while in Goblin Valley State Park

One of the world’s cleanest and darkest night skies can be found at Goblin Valley, adding to its unique atmosphere. It holds an international Dark Sky Park certification from the International Dark-Sky Association. You can see thousands of stars and planets gleaming brightly above you with almost no light pollution. One of the excellent places to visit when in the mood for stargazing is the southwest.

Disc Golf

The Professional Disc Golf Association has recognised the Goblin State Park course as one of the region’s most distinctive and challenging disc golf layouts. All visitors are welcome to play the park’s 9-hole disc golf course, which is free to use. In addition, visitors can bring their discs or rent them from the visitor centre. It is a great experience to play surrounded by a stunning landscape with these little hoodoos.

Have a Picnic

There are covered picnic tables with views of the Valley of Goblins at the main parking area. Unwind and have a tasty picnic meal while admiring the breathtaking surroundings.

Tips for Visiting Goblin Valley State Park

  • Spring and fall are the excellent time to visit the valley
  • Get plenty of food and water and fully fuel your car
  • The nearest place for services is 33 miles away in the village of Hanksville
  • Permission from the visitor centre is needed for using droning. 
  • Visitors are not allowed to pick beautiful agate and jasper geodes.
  • The valley’s location has served a variety of functions, such as an American Indian grinding quarry site.
  • Arrive early to avoid issues with parking, which can fill up rapidly during busy weekends and school breaks.
  • It is recommended to book campsites and yurts in advance, especially in the high season.
  • It is forbidden to ruin the delicate hoodoo formations intentionally.
  • You can visit the park in winter if you prefer to avoid crowds.
  • The Goblin Valley State Park served as the backdrop for the film Galaxy Quest.
  • Exploring the hoodoos, taking pictures, and hiking one of the trails takes a few hours.
  • The visitor centre offers informative displays on the region’s history, flora, and animals.

The Goblin Valley State Park is definitely worth a visit with its breathtaking views and exciting activities. All you need to do is just to pack your bag and head there! We promise you will not be disappointed. If you’re staying in the United States for a long, well-deserved vacation, check out our list of the top US travel destinations!