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How To Plan a Visit To “Mars on Earth” – Bearfoot Theory


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State parks are often underrated, and Goblin Valley State Park near Green River, Utah is no exception. Located about an hour and a half from Moab, this state park is a vibrant valley of sandstone rock formations with stunning hikes and camping options.

While you will not find mythical goblins wandering around Goblin Valley State Park, you will see unique mushroom-shaped rock features called goblins, which are hoodoos similar to those found in Bryce Canyon National Park. These goblins are estimated to have been formed through erosion over 170 million years ago when the area was near an ancient sea.

One of my former adventurous coworkers had recommended Goblin Valley State Park to me and said she liked it even more than Arches National Park or Canyonlands, so I knew it had to be good! When I visited Utah in my Sprinter Van in the fall of 2023, I stopped by this dog-friendly state park to hike with my husband and cattle dog, take photos, and explore the area.

Whether you visit for a day or camp near the park for several nights, use this travel guide with resources on the best things to do in Goblin Valley State Park and a 1-day Goblin Valley itinerary to help you make the most of your time here.

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Important Reminder: As it goes in all of the destinations we share, please practice good trail etiquette and remember to Leave No Trace. This means packing out all of your garbage (including toilet paper), being respectful to others, and following the established rules.


Goblin Valley State Park Information

Initially discovered by cowboys looking for cattle, Arthur Chaffin rediscovered the area that is now Goblin Valley State Park in the late 1920s, which he deemed “Mushroom Valley.” And I can see why – the goblins look just like giant mushrooms!

A close up shot of a goblin in Goblin Valley State Park in Utah
Goblin Valley is characterized by its giant mushroom-shaped rocks

Park basics

  • Hours: Open year-round from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
  • Entrance fee: $20 per vehicle
  • Elevation: 5,000 feet
  • Number of hiking trails: 5 established trails and 3 trailless valleys
  • Paid camping options: 1 campground and 2 yurts
  • Dog-friendly: Yes
A black cattle dog on a leash walking on the Goblin's Lair Trail in Goblin Valley State Park in Utah
My cattle dog, Willow, hiking with me on The Goblin’s Lair trail

Goblin Valley crowds

Goblin Valley State Park averages 500,000 visitors annually. As a result of its increasing popularity, it can get crowded on weekends, holidays, and summer months.

I had to wait about 20 minutes in a line of cars when I visited on a Saturday in October. To dodge the line, I recommend arriving as soon as the park opens.

Future park plans

Goblin Valley currently spans 3,600 acres. In 2022, the Utah Division of State Parks announced that Goblin Valley State Park would triple in size after receiving 6,300 acres from the Bureau of Land Management.

The park will likely include new campgrounds, restrooms, trailheads, and amenities in the future. I can’t wait to visit again to see how the park changes and go on new adventures!

Goblin Valley State Park Map

A map of Goblin Valley State Park in Utah
A map of Goblin Valley State Park showing trails, valleys, campgrounds, restrooms, and more / Source: Utah State Parks

How to Get to Goblin Valley State Park

If you plan a Utah road trip to the Mighty 5 National Parks, stop at Goblin Valley State Park. I explored it on my way to Capitol Reef National Park after checking out Arches.

The park sits halfway between Arches and Capitol Reef and is only a slight detour from the route. I explored it on my way to Capitol Reef National Park after camping in Moab for a week.

Goblin Valley State Park is off UT-24. It’s about 50 miles southwest of Green River and 30 miles north of Hanksville.

Directions to Goblin Valley

  • From Salt Lake City (3.5 hour drive): Take I-15 S > UT-6 S > I-70 W > UT-24 > Temple Mountain Junction > 12-mile road to park entrance
  • From Hanksville (0.5 hour drive): Take UT-24 E > Temple Mountain Junction > 12-mile road to park entrance
Helpful Tip

Be mindful of GPS

If you use GPS, it may lead you to a dirt road after you turn onto Temple Mountain Junction. If this happens, do not follow the dirt road, as this is incorrect. The 12-mile stretch of road into the park is paved.

Entrance sign for Goblin Valley State Park in Utah with an orange rock feature behind it
Once you see this entrance sign, you’ve made it to Goblin Valley State Park

Best Time to Visit Goblin Valley State Park

Goblin Valley State Park is in a remote desert area with rugged conditions. No matter what time of year you visit, I recommend bringing plenty of sun protection and a water reservoir to refill throughout the day.

Park rangers recommend drinking one gallon of water daily to stay hydrated. There are numerous water refill stations throughout the park.

Spring and fall

If you are searching for pleasant temperatures with fewer crowds, Goblin Valley State Park weather is best in spring or fall. Park rangers recommend visiting during these times, as the skies and trails are almost always clear.

When I visited in the fall, I enjoyed the sunny skies and warm hiking conditions. I saw other people in the park, but I never felt too crowded on the trails.

Female hiker posing for a photo on the Goblin's Lair trail in Goblin Valley State Park in Utah
Enjoying the pleasant fall temps in Goblin Valley while hiking in October / Photo Credit: @nomadxtom

Summer

Although the summer is a popular vacation season, it is not necessarily the best time to visit Goblin Valley, as the weather can be unpredictable.

Summer temperatures tend to be scorching hot and it is not uncommon for daily high temperatures to reach over 100°F. The heat makes for unpleasant and even unsafe hiking conditions during the day.

While it is hot during the day in the summer months, the low humidity causes the evening temperatures to drop, making for chilly camping conditions. In the late summer, there is a risk of afternoon thunderstorms.

Although these storms provide a pleasant breeze, they produce dangerous lightning strikes and flash flooding. Check the current conditions of Goblin Valley State Park and a weather report before visiting.

Female hiker with arms spread wide facing an orange rock formation on the Goblin's Lair trail in Goblin Valley State Park in Utah
There is little shade in Goblin Valley, so bring water and sun protection / Photo Credit: @nomadxtom

Winter

Although winter temperatures may be tolerable during the day, the evening temperatures often drop below freezing. Low temperatures can get as cold as 16°F in the winter.

Bearfoot Theory founder Kristen Bor visited Goblin Valley State Park in February. It was very cold, but the park was completely empty, which made it easy to find parking and take advantage of the clear trails.

There is occasional snow in the Valley of the Goblins. The ground was dry when Kristen visited; however, it can get muddy in the winter when there is precipitation.

The goblins with snow on them during winter in Goblin Valley State Park in Utah
Snow on the goblins in Goblin Valley State Park

Goblin Valley State Park Camping

If you want to experience Goblin Valley State Park for multiple days or nights, consider camping in Goblin Valley. There is a paid campground and yurts inside the park. They typically book 16 weeks in advance, so reserve your dates ahead of time on their website or call 1-800-322-3770.

If you cannot secure a reservation or would rather find a free campsite for car camping, there are plenty of options for dispersed camping in Goblin Valley on the outskirts of the park.

Goblin Valley Campground

The Goblin Valley Campground is not in the Valley of the Goblins, but it has beautiful rock formations surrounding it and offers convenient access to the park.

  • Fee: The campground costs $45.00 per night, which includes the park entrance fee. Additional vehicles cost an extra $20 per night.
  • Number of sites: There are 25 sites inside Goblin Valley State Park. Of those 25 campsites, 10 are walk-in tent pads, fourteen are RV spaces, and one is a group space that can fit up to 40 people and 10 vehicles.
  • Individual amenities: Every campsite at Goblin Valley Campground includes a picnic table, metal fire ring, and shade shelter. There are no electrical hookups available.
  • Shared amenities: Other campground amenities include hot showers, drinking water, restrooms, and a dump station for trash and sewage. Two showers remain open throughout the winter for as long as conditions allow. A free disc golf course starts at the campground, along with two hiking trails: Curtis Bench and Entrada Canyon.
A green tent at a designated campsite in Goblin Valley State Park campground
Goblin Valley Campground has views of the white and red layers of hoodoo sandstone rock formations

Goblin Valley yurts

If you don’t want to camp at the campground, another option for an overnight stay in Goblin Valley is a yurt. Sleeping in a yurt is a unique and comfortable way to enjoy an evening in the park.

There are two yurts in Goblin Valley. Inspired by Central Asia’s traditional nomadic tents, workers built the Goblin Valley yurts in 2011 before yurts were as popular or widespread throughout Utah.

  • Fee: The Goblin Valley yurts cost $200 per night, and you can bring a maximum of two dogs for a non-refundable fee of $20 per dog (no other animals allowed).
  • Amenities: The furnished yurts include a bunk bed with a single bed on top and a double bed on the bottom, a futon couch, a table with four chairs, reclining deck chairs outside, heat and air conditioning, and an outdoor grill with free propane.
  • Things to pack: The yurts have no blankets, pillows, cookware, plates, etc., so prepare to bring your own.
A yurt in Goblin Valley State Park in Utah surrounded by orange rock formations
If you stay in a yurt, you can enjoy the views of the surrounding unique sandstone formations

Goblin Valley dispersed camping

If you don’t want to pay for the Goblin Valley Campground and don’t mind driving outside of the park, there are excellent options for dispersed camping in Goblin Valley.

Temple Mountain Campground

Anyone visiting Goblin Valley State Park will pass this dispersed camping area heading into the park. When you exit UT-24, you turn onto Temple Mountain Road and immediately see campsites on the right side of the road.

This campground is first come, first serve and has pit toilets. It is big-rig friendly and includes fire rings at the sites.

These spots are about 12 miles from the entrance to Goblin Valley State Park. The GPS coordinates are 38.39082 N, 110.38243 W.

A view of Temple Mountain Road with an orange dirt road, green shrubs, and rock formations in the distance outside of Goblin Valley State Park in Utah
You can follow Temple Mountain Road even further to escape the crowds

Little Wild Horse Road

Another option is Little Wild Horse Road. This dispersed area sits just outside Goblin Valley State Park to the west.

This dispersed camping area has dirt roads leading to campsites with stunning views of the San Rafael Reef and Wild Horse Butte. The road is doable with 2WD and has spots for big and small rigs.

This area has campfire pits but no cell service. Keep a close eye on the weather because flash floods can happen in this area when it rains. The GPS coordinates are 38.34550 N, 110.44350 W.

BLM near Little Wild Horse Road

If Little Wild Horse Road is unavailable, head to this area just up the road. This area of land has free campsites nestled against stunning cliffs. The road is 2WD and big-rig friendly but is a bit bumpy.

Like Little Wild Horse Road, there are campfire rings but no cell service. Kristen camped here in her Sprinter Van in 2019 and enjoyed the views of the rock formations around her campsite. The GPS coordinates for this BLM spot are 38.34559 N, 110.46104 W.

Sprinter Van between orange rocks on BLM outside of Goblin Valley State Park in Utah
Kristen’s BLM campsite near Goblin Valley State Park

Hotels near Goblin Valley State Park

There are no hotels or lodging accommodations within 30 miles of Goblin Valley State Park. For this reason, I recommend continuing on your Utah road trip if you do not want to camp.

However, if you want to reserve lodging for your trip to Goblin Valley, the closest town is Hanksville, Utah. This small town is 33 miles south of Goblin Valley State Park and has limited options for lodging.

There is one motel called Whispering Sands Motel with affordable rates, but it does not allow pets. Another option in Hanksville is to stay in a wood cabin at Muddy Creek Mining Company.

The town of Green River is 49 miles northeast of Goblin Valley State Park. Although it is a bit further away, there are more hotel options, including a Comfort Inn, Super 8, Hampton Inn, and local options. There are also more restaurants in Green River than in Hanksville.

If you visit Goblin Valley for part of a day and continue driving afterward, the state park is a little over an hour away from Capitol Reef National Park and Arches National Park. There are more options for lodging near both of these parks.

The outside of Whispering Sands Motel in Hanksville, Utah
The closest option for hotels near Goblin Valley State Park is Whispering Sands Motel in Hanksville, Utah

Goblin Valley Hikes

There are only five established hiking trails in Goblin Valley State Park and three trailless valleys where you can explore the unique landscape and see the goblins up close. All trails and valleys are dog-friendly, but they must be on leash.

These trails are exposed, so wear sun protection while hiking and bring plenty of water. Since there are sandy and rocky trails, I recommend wearing closed-toe hiking shoes or boots.

1. The Goblin’s Lair

Trail Basics

  • Distance: 2.3 miles
  • Type: Out-and-back
  • Elevation Gain: 203 feet
  • Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Map: AllTrails

The Goblin’s Lair is the most popular hike in Goblin Valley State Park. Most of the hike is flat on a dirt path with some scree.

Over the first mile, you will see rock formations along a cliff wall. Then, the trail will lead you to the desert floor with views of Molly’s Castle and the Gilson Buttes.

At the end of the hike, you will reach the part of the trail in which you can scramble down into a beautiful slot canyon called The Goblin’s Lair, from which the hike gets its name. It is not a true cavern and rockfall shields the entrance.

Depending on when you hike to the lair, you may see light entering through the ceiling over 100 feet above the chamber floor. This slot canyon requires basic bouldering skills.

You can walk further down the path to see The Goblette’s Lair, a slightly smaller slot canyon. This extension will add another 0.2 miles to your total mileage.

Since I hiked with my dog and didn’t want to carry her down into the canyon, I decided to skip this section of the hike. I also saw a child fall and scrape their knee pretty badly.

Female hiker with a dog on the Goblin's Lair trail in Goblin Valley State Park in Utah
Hiking with my dog on The Goblin’s Lair trail / Photo Credit: @nomadxtom

2. Carmel Canyon Trail

Trail Basics

  • Distance: 1.2 miles
  • Type: Loop
  • Elevation Gain: 95 feet
  • Time: 25 minutes
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Map: AllTrails

The 1.2-mile Carmel Canyon loop will lead you around the desert floor to see the Valley of the Goblins from various angles. Along the route, you will see The Three Sisters rock formation (mentioned further below) and can deviate slightly from the loop to see it even closer before continuing.

Since this trail is a loop, you can head clockwise or counterclockwise. Both directions have the same elevation gain, though hiking counterclockwise results in upward climbing through a deep trench in a narrow slot canyon at the end. If you prefer to descend through the slot canyon, consider heading clockwise.

The eastern section of the Carmel Canyon loop is the same route you take for the initial section of the Goblin’s Lair trail mentioned above. If you hike the loop counterclockwise, the split for the two trails occurs at 0.4 miles.

Several hikers have found the signage on this hike confusing, even with a map from the Visitor Center. I recommend downloading the map on your phone beforehand for navigation during the hike.

Want to extend your hike? You can make it a lollipop shape and add an extra half mile to your hike by taking a section of Goblin’s Lair trail to Molly’s Castle Overlook. You will have the choice to add this optional extension about halfway around the loop.

Helpful Tip

Combine Goblin’s Lair & Carmel Canyon

For an even longer hike, take the extension for Molly’s Castle Overlook and continue on the path until you reach The Goblin’s Lair. You can also walk an extra 0.1 miles past this cave to see The Goblette’s Lair. Then, turn around to take the Goblin’s Lair trail back to the Carmel Canyon trail and finish the loop. With Goblette’s Lair, this would add approximately 1.8 miles to your hike, bringing the total to 3.3 miles.

Aerial view of Carmel Canyon Trail with a dirt path and green shrubs in Goblin Valley State Park in Utah
Aerial view of the rock formations you see along Carmel Canyon Trail / Source: Utah State Parks

3. Curtis Bench Trail

Trail Basics

  • Distance: 2.0 miles
  • Type: Out-and-back
  • Elevation Gain: 108 feet
  • Time: 40 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Map: AllTrails

Curtis Bench is an easy, 2.0-mile out-and-back hike that follows the Curtis rock formation. It is a family-friendly hike with views of thousands of goblins in the Valley of the Goblins to the east.

The hike also features excellent views of the Henry Mountains to the south. Although there are views of stunning peaks surrounding you, you will spend most of the hike in a deep wash on this trail.

The hike is called Curtis Bench after the grey-green Curtis layer of sand and siltstone in the upper areas of Goblin Valley State Park. Depending on the time of year you visit the park, you may see flowering plants along the trail. These flowers are most commonly found during the spring (April and May).

The hike starts and ends near the Goblin Valley Campground, making it a convenient option for anyone camping in the park. Since the trail is flat and easy to follow, you could also do this hike at night and turn off your headlamp to see the Milky Way.

A view of the mountains along Curtis Bench trail at golden hour in Goblin Valley State Park in Utah
Views along Curtis Bench trail during golden hour at Goblin Valley State Park / Source: Utah State Parks

4. Entrada Canyon

Trail Basics

  • Distance: 1.8 miles
  • Type: Out-and-back
  • Elevation Gain: 150 feet
  • Time: 40 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Map: AllTrails

The Entrada Canyon trail runs parallel to the Curtis Bench trail mentioned above but sits at a slightly lower elevation. It is an easy, 1.8-mile trail with views of goblins along the route. Like Curtis Bench, Entrada Canyon follows a natural drainage wash.

It is a soft, sandy path that is a bit narrow. Some hikers describe the wash as having twists and turns similar to a mini slot canyon. There are interesting patterns and salt deposits along the walls of the wash.

Entrada Canyon gets its name from the layer of sand and siltstone in the Valley of the Goblins. Certain goblins in Goblin Valley State Park are only viewable along this trail and cannot be seen from elsewhere in the park.

This hike also starts and ends at the Goblin Valley Campground at the group campsite. If you are staying at the campground, this is a great route to take in the morning to warm up for a challenging hike.

Hikers suggest downloading the route on your phone ahead of time, as it can be confusing where to go, especially in the initial section of the hike.

Helpful Tip

Combine Curtis Bench & Entrada Canyon

You can form a loop hike from the campground by combining Entrada Canyon with Curtis Bench. The Goblin Crawl Trail is a marked trail that connects the furthest points of these two hikes at the parking lot for the Valley of the Goblins Trailhead. The total hike is around 4 miles.

View of the orange hoodoo rock formations along Entrada Canyon trail in Goblin Valley State Park in Utah
Some goblins in the park can only be seen on Entrada Canyon trail / Source: Utah State Parks

5. The Three Sisters

Trail Basics

  • Distance: 0.14 miles
  • Type: Out-and-back
  • Elevation Gain: 20 feet
  • Time: 5 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy

The Three Sisters rock formation isn’t much of a hike, but it is worth a stop. It is a short 250-yard trail leading to Goblin Valley State Park’s most iconic goblin formations.

Many souvenirs in the Visitor Center feature this rock formation. Although you can drive by and photograph it, I recommend getting out and walking to see this unique feature. It is even more spectacular up close.

A marked trail leads to The Three Sisters from Observation Point Road. As mentioned previously, the Carmel Canyon trail passes near this rock formation. You can hop onto this trail from The Three Sisters and hike the loop in either direction.

If you want to turn this stop into an easy 1-mile loop with an elevation gain of 88 feet, walk to The Three Sisters from the trailhead and take the Carmel Canyon Loop for 0.3 miles back to the main road that connects with the trailhead for The Three Sisters.

Three Sisters rock formation consisting of three tall hoodoo spires on a cloudy day in Goblin Valley State Park in Utah
Panoramic view of The Three Sisters rock formation in Goblin Valley State Park

Other Things to Do in Goblin Valley State Park

If you have more time to explore Goblin Valley, there is a wide range of activities to do during your time there. From photography to canyoneering, there are opportunities for every type of outdoor adventure lover.

Explore the Valley of the Goblins

If you don’t want to go on an actual hiking trail, consider walking around one of the three valleys in Goblin Valley State Park. The valleys contain thousands of hoodoos and are the park’s main attractions.

There are no maintained trails on these undeveloped lands, so you can wander the valley as you wish. Although it is permissible to climb on and touch the hoodoos, avoid any hoodoos that appear fragile. Since there is no clear route, I recommend bringing a map and walking with someone as you explore.

A woman in a blue coat hiking among the goblins in Goblin Valley State Park in Utah
Bearfoot Theory founder Kristen Bor exploring the Valley of Goblins

Go canyoneering

Want to add an unforgettable adventure to your trip? You can purchase a permit to rappel 70 feet into Goblin’s Lair. This natural sandstone cave is on the east side of Goblin Valley.

It requires technical gear, canyoneering skills, and a backcountry permit ($2 per person) to rappel. Permits are available for purchase at the Visitor Center and issued on a first-come, first-serve basis. They may not be available on busy days.

If you are interested, watch weather conditions and contact a ranger at 435-275-4584 with questions. You can sign up for a guided canyoneering tour with Get in the Wild Adventures.

Take photos

Goblin Valley State Park is a photographer’s dream. During the day, you can photograph the thousands of hoodoos within the Valley of the Goblins similar to those you’d find when visiting Bryce Canyon National Park. You can also capture the vegetation of the park, including various cacti.

If you own a drone, you can purchase a permit at the Visitor Center for $10 to capture the park from above. You can end the day with stunning shots of the Milky Way in the dark sky at night.

An orange rock formation against a blue sky in Goblin Valley State Park in Utah
There are so many interesting geologic features to photograph in the park

Play disc golf

Goblin Valley State Park has a free disc golf course with 20 holes. The first eleven holes feature flat terrain with views of the Henry Mountains and Valley of the Goblins. The course then connects with the Curtis Bench trail, allowing an easy return to your vehicle.

If you decide to play the whole course, holes 12-20 are spread throughout canyons and dune fields across two miles. There are steep climbs and descents on this section of the course, so wear sturdy hiking shoes and bring water. You can rent discs for $1 each at the Visitor Center.

Go mountain biking

There are five mountain biking loops within Goblin Valley State Park spanning seven miles as part of the Wild Horse Mountain Biking Trail System. These interconnecting mountain bike trails range in difficulty from beginner to intermediate.

While mountain biking, you will encounter areas of the park that are rarely visited and see beautiful views of mountain peaks along the trails. If you are looking for more trails to ride near the park, there are even more mountain biking trails in the San Rafael Swell.

Mountain biker on singletrack trail surrounded by barren desert terrain in Goblin Valley State Park, Utah
A mountain biker enjoying the trails in Goblin Valley State Park

Swing by the Visitor Center

The Goblin Valley State Park Visitor Center features a gift shop with souvenirs to remember your trip and additional information about the park. It is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., though these hours vary by season.

This building is also where you can purchase permits for flying a drone or canyoneering if you plan to do either of these activities during the day.

The Visitor Center also features free public Wi-Fi. This internet access is convenient if you are camping in or near the park and do not have a way to get Wi-Fi on the road.

Go stargazing

Want to admire the stars? You will find one of the darkest night skies at Goblin Valley State Park. Because the park is away from popular areas and light pollution, it is a certified Dark Sky Park.

There are breathtaking views of the Milky Way and constellations. Bring a telescope or go for a night hike to see the stars. You can also join a ranger-led moonlit hike or telescope tour.

The Milky Way above Goblin Valley State Park in Utah
Goblin Valley State Park is a Dark Sky Park, making it a perfect spot to see the Milky Way

Goblin Valley 1-day Itinerary

If you only have one day in Goblin Valley State Park, use this itinerary to help plan your day. This Goblin Valley 1-day itinerary is adventure-packed to get the most out of your time in the park but feel free to customize it to fit your needs.

1. Stop at the Visitor Center

Before you pay your $20 entrance fee to the ranger at the gate, pull over in the small parking lot to the right. This lot is where you can park to check out the Visitor Center, use the restroom, and fill up your water before heading off on your adventures.

2. Explore the Valley of the Goblins

Before you start a hike, I recommend exploring the valleys for 1-2 hours and taking photos of the hoodoos before these valleys fill with people (and become a playground for children) later in the day.

One of the trailless Valley of Goblins in Goblin Valley State Park in Utah
One of the trailless Valleys of Goblins in the morning before the park fills with visitors

3. Hike the Goblin’s Lair

This popular 3-mile, out-and-back trail will lead you to a sandstone cave where you can look down 100 feet to see the canyon floor below. There is a bit of a scramble to get to the lair, so go slow and watch your footing. 

4. Eat a picnic lunch

Find a spot with a view or head to the gazebo with shade and plenty of picnic tables at the Valley of the Goblins parking lot. It is on the far right of the lot overlooking Valley 1, on the opposite side of the Goblin’s Lair trailhead.

Bearfoot Theory founder Kristen Bor in a blue jacket enjoying the view at Goblin Valley State Park in Utah
Find a spot with a view and enjoy a picnic lunch during your visit to Goblin Valley

5. Admire The Three Sisters

If you missed this iconic rock formation on your way into the Valley of the Goblins, pull over (or at least snap a photo from the car) on your way out. It is only a 250-yard walk to reach The Three Sisters if you decide to check out the observation point.

6. Play disc golf

After eating lunch and stopping at The Three Sisters, check out the free Goblin Valley disc golf course. The course spans several miles and weaves players through canyons with incredible views of the surrounding mountain peaks and goblins.

Alternatively, if you’re a mountain biker you can check out the Wild Horse trails.

Disc golf hole with mountains in the background at Goblin Valley State Park in Utah
The disc golf course at Goblin Valley State Park has stunning mountain views / Source: Utah State Parks

7. Check into your campground or yurt

If you are staying in the Goblin Valley Campground or reserved one of the two Goblin Valley yurts, this is an excellent time to find your spot, relax, and make dinner. There are grills available for guests in both the campground and the yurts. If you want to camp outside the park, I recommend finding your spot before dark since some of the roads could be difficult to drive at night.

8. Watch the sunset

Step out of your rig, tent, or yurt to catch the sunset. The sun transforms the rocks from orange to a glowing red hue. Sunset is one of the most magical times of day in the desert. If you are a photographer, this is an excellent time of day to capture photos of the surrounding cliff formations.

Sprinter Van at sunset on a road near Goblin Valley State Park in Utah
You will want to pull over and admire the pink clouds during sunset at Goblin Valley State Park

9. Go stargazing

End your day by admiring the Milky Way in one of the darkest night skies on Earth. Depending on the day and time of year you visit, you could check the Visitor Center to see if there is a ranger-led moonlit hike or telescope tour. If you camp at the Goblin Valley Campground, you could walk part of the Curtis Bench trail at night for a more secluded stargazing experience.


Tips for Visiting Goblin Valley State Park

As you prepare to visit Goblin Valley, follow the recommendations below. No matter what you decide to do in the park, these tips will ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

  • Arrive early: The park opens at 6:00 a.m. I recommend arriving a little before it opens to avoid the lines, crowds, and heat (depending on the time of year). Since Goblin Valley has limited parking, spots fill up quickly, and then rangers only allow one vehicle to enter for each vehicle that exits.
  • Stay hydrated: Use the water refill stations at the Visitor Center and the Valley of the Goblins parking lot to refill your water reservoir or bottles throughout the day. If you plan to hike or explore the valleys, leave with at least 3 liters of water.
  • Wear proper sun attire: The majority of the park is exposed. Wear desert hiking attire, a sun hat, and bring sunglasses. You will also want to apply sunscreen in the morning and reapply throughout the day to avoid sunburn.
  • Bring snacks or lunch: There are no places to purchase food within this state park. If you plan to spend an afternoon or day in the park, pack some of my favorite easy hiking snacks or a picnic lunch to stay fueled.

Goblin Valley State Park Packing List

Below is the main gear to pack for a day in Goblin Valley State Park. If you plan to hike in the park, check out this list of Day Hiking Essentials.

  • A daypack with a 3L hydration reservoir. Remember to start your day with plenty of water for yourself, your family, and your dog (if you bring one).
  • A sun hat such as the Wallaroo Sedona Hat (BFT readers get 20% off with the code “BEARFOOT20”).
  • Plenty of sunscreen. Reapply throughout the day to avoid sunburn as the park is in exposed desert terrain.
  • A buff to protect your neck from the sun.
  • Snacks to eat while hiking or cooling down in the shade.
  • A rain jacket in case of storms. Afternoon thunderstorms are common in the late summer (July and August).
  • Grippy hiking shoes – I recommend hiking boots or shoes with good traction for stability. These are especially needed if you plan to hike the Goblin’s Lair or Carmel Canyon.

Looking for more adventurous places to visit in Utah? Check out these:

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Have you visited Goblin Valley State Park? What did you do during your time there? Tell me about your experience in the comments!



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