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Goblin Valley is one of Utah’s most popular and unique state parks. It might be small, but there’s plenty to do and see! As you wander through the valley of unusually shaped red rocks called goblins, you’ll quickly feel like you’ve been transported to another planet. I’m a Utah local and have visited the park many times throughout the years. In this travel guide, you’ll find all my best tips so you can plan the perfect trip!
In this Utah travel guide we’ll cover:
- how to get to Goblin Valley State Park
- park entrance fees and hours
- the best time of year to visit
- where to stay nearby
- camping options in the park and nearby
- things to do in the park
- top hikes in Goblin Valley
- other parks and hikes nearby
Let’s get started!
Where is Goblin Valley State Park?
The park is located 50 miles southwest of Green River off State Highway 24.
From Salt Lake City, it’s about 3.5 hours to Goblin Valley.
Entrance Fees and Hours
The park is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. year-round.
Note: Due to limited parking in the park and extremely high levels of visitation, there may be delays of several hours to enter the park on weekends from March through June.
The visitor center and gift shop will also be closed most weekends.
Day-use fees (valid for two days):
- $20 private vehicle
- $10 Utah seniors 62 and older
- $10 motorcycle, bicycle, or pedestrian
- $4 per-person commercial vehicle fee
For Utah residents, an annual Utah state park pass is $100. That’s what I have, and it works for every state park in Utah for an entire year!
Best Time of Year to Visit
Goblin Valley sees weather extremes.
In the Summer, temperatures can reach over 100°F.
Since humidity is low, the evenings cool off quickly when the sun goes down. There’s minimal shade, and hiking through the desert in that sort of heat can be difficult.
In late summer, there’s an increase in thunderstorms in the afternoon. The thunderstorms bring lightning strikes and flash flood potential to nearby canyons.
In the Winter, night temperatures drop below freezing and the valley does see occasional snow.
I think Spring and Fall, are the best times to visit Goblin Valley. The days are often sunny and warm while the nights are cool and the sky is clear.
That being said, abrupt changes in weather do occur.
It’s possible to experience strong winds, rain, and even hail during the Spring and Fall.
Also worth noting – the cacti are in bloom from April through June. If you go during these months you can see beautiful pink, yellow, and red flowers on the cacti!
There are very limited services and lodging near Goblin Valley.
- Green River, Utah – about 50 miles to Goblin Valley
- Hanksville, Utah – about 32 miles to Goblin Valley
Both Green River and Hanksville are very small towns with not much more than a gas station.
Camping Options in the Park and Nearby
There are no hotels or lodges in or around the park.
But there’s plenty of camping and a couple of yurts for rent!
The campground at Goblin Valley State Park has 25 sites and two yurts.
The campsites are divided into 10 walk-in tent pads, 14 RV spaces, and one group site that can accommodate up to 35 people.
- picnic table
- metal fire ring
- shade shelter
- flush toilets
- drinking water
- a dump station
- Main Campground: $35/night ($20 extra vehicle fee) This camping charge includes the park’s entry fee.
- Yurts: $100 + tax
- Group Campground: $100 + tax for up to 40 persons, $3 per person after that. (8 vehicles or 6 RVs max)
Goblin Valley Yurts
- The park has 2 yurts available for rent. Each yurt is modeled after traditional nomadic tent dwellings of Central Asia.
- Each yurt is furnished and has both heat and air conditioning!
- For sleeping, there’s a single bed bunked on top of a double bed, as well as a futon couch. A table with four chairs is provided inside, and reclining deck chairs are available for outdoor relaxation.
- For cooking, an outdoor grill is available along with propane free of charge. Pets are not allowed in the yurts.
Campground and Yurt Reservations
- For current yurt availability, or to make a camping reservation, visit the website www.reserveamerica.com.
Things to do in the Park
There’s a lot to see and do in Goblin Valley State Park.
- Hiking – See below for more details about hiking in Goblin Valley.
- Mountain Biking – Mountain bike the Wild Horse Mountain Biking Trail System! The trail system includes five loops that will bring you into areas of the park that can’t be seen any other way.
- Disk Golf – This is one of the more unique activities in the park. Surrounding the campground is an 18-hole disc golf course. The course is free to play for all park visitors. The visitor center will provide course maps, and rent discs for $1.00 each.
- Stargazing – Goblin Valley has one of the darkest night skies on earth! At night you can see absolutely incredible views of the milky way. The park offers a variety of ranger-led events, including moonlit hikes and telescope tours.
Top Hikes in Goblin Valley State Park
1) The Valley of Goblins
- The Valley of Goblins is the most popular and well-known area in the park.
- This is a free-roaming area of the park that spans roughly 3 square miles!
- Beginning at Observation Point, you can hike wherever you want through the valley. There are no designated trails.
- If you only have an hour or two in the park, this is the area that I would explore.
- Scenes from the movie Galaxy Quest were actually filmed in this valley because it looks and feels like another planet!
2) The Goblins Lair
- This is the most popular marked hike in the park. I loved this hike!
- The “lair” was so much bigger than I thought it would be and it was a lot of fun climbing up and over the boulders and down into the massive cavernous formation known as The Goblin’s Lair.
- Distance: 2.5 miles round-trip
- Difficulty: moderate
- The trail begins at the observation point and follows the Carmel Canyon loop before splitting off after 1/2 mile. There are signs marking the way.
Important note: This hike requires some moderate scrambling up scree slopes and over boulders. Rocks are slippery when sandy so be careful here.
3) The Three Sisters
- This short trail leads you to one of the most iconic goblin formations in the park – The Three Sisters.
- Distance: 500 yards round-trip
- Difficulty: easy
- You can easily see The Three Sisters from the road on the drive to and from Observation Point, but if you want a closer look, you can pull over and follow the short unmarked trail.
Other Marked Hikes in the Park
Carmel Canyon Loop
- On this trail, you’ll see beautiful views of the Carmel goblin formation, the Molly’s Castle outcrop, and the Three Sisters.
- On clear days you can even see the La Sal Mountains far to the east.
- Carmel Canyon also contains a short section of colorful narrows. Completing the entire loop requires some minor scrambling.
Curtis Bench Trail
- From the Curtis Bench Trail, hikers can see beautiful views of the Henry Mountains to the south, as well as the Valley of Goblins to the east.
- This trail is at a higher elevation than the Entrada Canyon trail that runs parallel to it.
- There’s a marked cutoff trail leading down into the First Valley, allowing for a potential loop hike with the Entrada Canyon Trail.
Entrada Canyon Trail
- This trail begins at the campground and ends at the Valley of Goblins observation point parking lot and back.
- The Curtis Bench trail runs parallel to this trail.
Parks and Hikes Nearby
San Rafael Swell
- Just outside of the park boundaries is the San Rafael Swell – land managed by the Bureau of Land Management.
- This area is rugged and remote. There’s no cell service, gas, or drinking water. There are numerous roads that only four-wheel-drive vehicles can negotiate.
- That being said, there are plenty of free dispersed camping opportunities in this area, in addition to slot canyon hikes and canyoneering routes.
- One of the more popular slot canyon day hikes in the area is Little Wild Horse Canyon.
- Flash floods are a serious risk to people hiking narrow canyons. Never enter a slot canyon if there is a significant chance of rain anywhere in the canyon’s drainage area.
Capitol Reef National Park
- Capitol Reef National Park is about 70 miles from Goblin Valley. It’s an incredible national park filled with great hiking, scenic drives, camping, and more!
Plan your Trip!
That wraps up my travel guide to Goblin Valley State Park in Utah. I hope this helps you plan an incredible trip to visit the goblins in the desert.
What are you most excited to see in the park? Comment below and let me know!