If you are looking for the one of a kind, kid-friendly hike in Utah, I know the place. Hiking at Goblin Valley State Park is just the place.
At Goblin Valley State Park, you will find hundreds of hoodoos (more on that later). The landscape is really a dreamscape! Your kids’ imaginations will run wild as they run from one set of hoodoos to the next.
It is close to Moab and Capitol Reef so if you are on a National Park tour this is a great addition!
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How Do I Get to Goblin Valley?
Not easily. This is not your 30-minutes from the city type of hike. This is your take-a-long weekend adventure (while visiting other locations) type of place. Goblin Valley State Park is in the south, central Utah. The closest town is Hanksville which has a population of 219 people according to the 2010 census!
So you’re going to Goblin Valley as part of a camping trip, or while you are visiting Moab or Capital Reef. This is a great bundle venue to couple with Canyonlands and Arches National Parks. Also, one great idea is to fly into the closest airport and then rent an RV on RVShare.
How Far is Goblin Valley from Salt Lake City?
The distance is about three and a half hours.
How Far is Goblin Valley from Moab (Including Canyonlands and Arches)?
The distance is about 1 hour and a half hours.
How Far is Goblin Valley from Capit0l Reef National Park?
The distance is about 2 hours.
Why is it Called Goblin Valley?
The sandstone in this area dates back to the Jurassic period 170 million years ago. Spheroidal weathering of the entrada sandstone is how these amazing rock formations or hoodoos were formed. But the hoodoos themselves were created over time by erosion. According to National Geographic, it is believed that these hoodoos began forming 25 million years ago.
Why is it Called a Hoodoo?
A hoodoo is a spire of rock that looks like a mushroom. They look eerie so they were given the names “hoodoo”, “goblin”, and “fairy chimneys”
Admission and Parking at Goblin Valley
Hours: 6:00 am – 10:00 pm
You can purchase your day pass online. This will save you a little time on your visit.
There are Covid-19 restrictions that will only allow a certain amount of people in the park at a time. So you probably will have to wait 30-45 minutes (or more) to enter the park. As one car exits another can enter. Go early to avoid lines!
When is the Best Time to Visit Goblin Valley?
The best time to visit and hike in Goblin Valley is Spring or Fall. The summer is extremely hot in this area and winter is extremely cold.
We went in the Spring and the weather was around 76 degrees. It was still hot but not unbearable. In the desert the sun is brutal.
How to Explore Goblin Valley in the Summer
Goblin Valley gets very hot in the summer. We are talking about temperatures near 100 degrees or over. You can try to do an early morning hike in the summer, but unless your kids are wired differently than mine, early morning and hikes are two ingredients that don’t go well together.
Evening hikes may be the better option. Although it takes a while to cool down if you go while the sun is setting, you can move around at dusk, and then stay in the area to see the beautiful night sky on a cloudless night! With so few natural lights in the area, the view of the stars is striking.
What is There to do at Goblin Valley?
Explore the Hoodoos at Valley of the Goblins – Observation Point
This is the main attraction in the park. It is three square miles filled with thousands of hoodoos. This isn’t a traditional hike with a trail. You are currently free to wander around and explore and climb on all the rock formations.
It is SO much fun! Especially, if you have kids with great imaginations. My kids claimed their kingdoms among the rocks, making themselves kings and queens, and bestowing titles on their siblings. One hoodoo formation was a giant dragon to mount. Other formations became their pirate ships. And yet other hoodoos were faces of monsters waiting to eat them. Our then four-year-old hiked the entire time.
Depending on the weather you could spend an hour or two just in this area. The only concern I had was that our kids’ excitement propelled them to run in different directions at times. Fortunately, this is a flat area that doesn’t have severe drop-offs, though a kid could fall from a hoodoo.
If you are a little more adventurous there is a canyoning tour that allows guided rappelling down narrow fissures.
Additional Hiking at Goblin Valley (Trails)
Carmel Canyon – 1.5 mile moderate to strenuous loop. This hike will take you to the desert floor allowing a different viewpoint of Goblin Valley. There is an option to hike to Molly’s Castle Overlook from this hike.
Curtis Bench – 2.1 miles round trip easy trail that will give you a spectacular view of the Henry Mountains.
Entrada Canyon – 1.3-mile tough hike from the campsite to Goblin Valley.
Goblin’s Lair – 3-mile round trip. This is the hike we want to go on next time. Our kids can only handle so much hiking so on our last trip we only did the Valley of the Goblins. Goblin’s Lair leads to a cave and has spectacular views of Molly’s Castle and Gilson Buttes. You do have to be able to climb into the lair.
Mountain Biking at Goblin Valley
Bikes are not allowed on the hiking trails or in the Valley of the Goblins. There are designated biking trails that belong to the Wild Horse Biking Trail System.
Exploring the Slot Canyons Near Goblin Valley
There are over 14 slot canyons in this area!
- Ding and Dang Canyon
- Music Canyon
- Devils Canyon
- Muddy Creek
- Crawford Draw
- Little Wild Horse Canyon
- Crack Canyon
- Iron Wash North Fork
- Cistern and Ramp Canyons
- Forgotten Canyon
- Bell Canyon
- Baptist Draw
- Eardley Canyon
- Farnsworth Canyon
Little Wild Horse Canyon is located near Goblin Valley and is one of the most popular hikes because there is a long stretch of narrows you have to turn sideways to get through. It is a family-friendly hike.
Goblin Valley Star Gazing
Goblin Valley is an International Dark Sky Park. This area is free from any significant light pollution. If you are used to the city, the nighttime star gazing will give you a spectacular experience!
Camping at Goblin Valley State Park
The campground at Goblin Valley consists of 25 sites and 2 yurts. 10 of the 25 sites are for tents. 14 are for RVs. The final site is a large community campsite that can hold up to 35 people.
Showers and flushing toilets are available at the campsite. Communal water and a dump station are also available. At each site, there is a picnic table, metal fire ring, and shade shelter.
That camping site costs $30 per night, which also gives you access to Goblin Valley State Park.
If you prefer more comfort than a tent provides you may want to think about staying in the yurts. They are designed after the nomadic tent dwellings of central Asia. The yurts have heating and air-conditioning. They also have a bunk bed (twin/full), a futon bed, and table and chairs.
A grill is available (propane is included)
You will also need to bring your own linens. Reserve your yurt well in advance because they get booked out quickly. You will have to be very planned. Reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance.
Yurts are $100 plus tax.
How Long Should I Spend at Goblin Valley?
If I just wanted to see the hoodoos at Observation Point (Valley of the Goblins), I would plan about 2 hours.
Hiking in Goblin Valley
Hiking in Goblin Valley will obviously take more time and you will want to dedicate the majority of your day exploring the different hikes.
Camping in Goblin Valley
Planning a camping trip at Goblin Valley for one night would probably give you the perfect amount of time to do everything there is to do in the park. If you wanted to explore the surrounding areas more time would be required.
Helpful Tips for Visiting Goblin Valley
Dogs are allowed as long as they are on a six feet leash. We saw plenty of dogs near the observation deck (near the parking lot). Our kids love dogs. They had so much fun that they didn’t need the distraction on this trip, but it was a plus on our way out for them to see all of the dogs. (they saw over 20 dogs)
The temperatures are extreme in the desert. In the summer it can easily be over 100 degrees. In the winter it drops below freezing.
Flash floods are extremely dangerous and if lightning strikes a flash flood is coming. It will go right through the slot canyons. If you have ever seen reports about a flash flood in a slot canyon, you will know that the water builds up quickly, and is fast, creating multiple drownings dangers. It is like a rapid river that appears out of nowhere!
Why We Love Hiking in Goblin Valley
If you have followed me here on Planningaway.com, you will know that we love hiking. We hike on every vacation! Hiking at Goblin Valley was a fabulous experience! Goblin Valley is great for all ages but our kids especially loved it. Not only is it fun for younger kids but teenagers as well. I hope you get a chance to go!
If you are planning on exploring the Mighty Five National Parks of Utah and have some time to explore other areas, consider hiking in Goblin Valley State Park. I highly recommend it.
Comment below and let us know if you have been or want to go!
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