Hiking in Goblin Valley
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An Amazing Guide For Hiking at Goblin Valley Utah State Park

Headed to Goblin Valley, Utah? If you are looking for a one-of-a-kind, kid-friendly hike in Utah, I know the place.  Hiking at Goblin Valley State Park is a unique experience that you will LOVE!

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!

Let’s explore all the fun things to do at Goblin Valley, UT! 

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How Do I Get to Goblin Valley Utah?

Goblin Valley State Park - Utah

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 281 people according to the 2020 census!

So you’re going to Goblin Valley Utah 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 to the closest airport and then rent an RV on RVShare.


 Rent an RV from 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.

Moab to Goblin Valley

How Far is Goblin Valley from Capitol Reef National Park? 

 

The distance is about 2 hours.

Capital Reef National Park to Goblin ValleyWhy is it Called Goblin Valley?

Road trip to 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 Utah

Hiking at Goblin Valley

Hours: 6:00 am – 10:00 pm

Admission: $20

You can purchase your day pass online.  This will save you a little time on your visit.

When is the Best Time to Visit Goblin Valley UT?

Road trip to Goblin Valley

The best time to visit and hike in Utah 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 Utah 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.

Things to Do at Goblin Valley UtahHiking in 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.

How Long Should I Spend at Utah’s Goblin Valley?

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 Utah (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 Utah

Bikes are not allowed on 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 Utah 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 Utah 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 Utah State Park

Yurt at Goblin Valley
Image courtesy of state parks.utahgov

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.

Goblin Valley Camping

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 $45 per night, which also gives you access to Goblin Valley State Park.

Yurts

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 a 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 $150 plus tax.

How Long Should I Spend at Goblin Valley Utah?

Hiking 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 Utah

Hiking in Goblin Valley Utah 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 Utah Goblin Valley Hiking at Goblin Valley

Pets

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)

Weather at Goblin Valley

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 drowning dangers.  It is like a rapid river that appears out of nowhere!

 

Why We Love Hiking in Goblin Valley Utah

Hiking at 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.

There are so many beautiful National Parks in the USA including the West Coast National Parks which are close to this location. I hope to explore all of them one day!

Comment below and let us know if you have been or want to go!

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81 Comments

  1. What a cool place to hike. I’ve never heard of Hoodoo’s before but I bet seeing them in person is amazing.

  2. Utah is so beautiful! I must visit soon as I would love to do some day hikes in the canyons especially.

  3. Wow! I have never heard of this park! I am saving this so I have it when we make it to Utah. That is a bucket list state for us. Thanks!

    1. There are some really cool National Parks and State Parks plus Utah does not have very many bugs with is awesome when you want to explore outside!

  4. This looks like such a fun place to visit. My kids would love running around and exploring. Would love to make it here someday.

  5. I’ve heard of hoodoos before but didn’t realize that incredible places like Goblin Valley exist – so cool!

  6. Such an amazing landscape. I would love to bring my kids. I will add this to our ‘must’ Utah list.

  7. I have always wanted to stay in a Yurt. I celebrated my 40th birthday in a yurt at the top of the mountain at Big Sky Resort in the middle of winter. Would love to camp in one! We have hoodoo’s in my city but these are truly spectacular. Definitely saving this for future travel when we can cross the border again!

  8. This place looks so cool! I’d never heard of it. We’ve been thinking about a road trip to Utah this July maybe since we had to scrap our plan to go east. I’ll keep it in mind!

    1. All the national parks and Goblin Valley are very hot during the summer. Salt Lake city is nice in the summer because the mountains are 10-20 degrees cooler than the valley.

  9. This reminds me so much of our trip to Bryce Canyon with the Hoodoos. It would be great to hike through them.

  10. Wow this place looks cool! We were supposed to be doing the Utah National Parks back in March and April as part of our honeymoon but they had all closed so we cancelled it. We’re hoping to plan another trip back out there, maybe in the Fall. This would be a good addition to that itinerary.

  11. Why is it that I have never heard of Goblin Valley or a hoodoo? These rock formations look so cool! Looks like they are all kinds of great hiking areas in Utah.

    1. I have always want to stay in a yurt but I think about it too late and they are usually booked up!

  12. This is one area I have not visited in Utah! Love your pictures, I’m ready to visit next time I’m there! Thank you for sharing!

  13. This looks like so much fun! We need to get back to Utah. We loved it when we were in 2009.

  14. I can’t believe I’ve never been there! I went to SUU, so not that far. And have done a bunch of the other other National Parks in the area. Maybe we’ll gave to plan on it next time we’re in Southern Utah. Thanks for sharing!

  15. Too funny, those hoodoo’s do look like mushrooms! Looks like another planet!! Thanks for sharing this interesting area of the world I’ve yet to visit.

  16. Goblin Valley State Park in Utah looks so cool! We would love to see it in person and stay in a yurt for the night. I will check it out for sure when we visit!

  17. I haven’t heard of this before! It looks really cool. I will have to add it for sure when exploring Utah!

  18. How interesting! I love to hike and explore new places. You opened my eyes to a new spot that looks great for exploring. Thanks for the information!

  19. This place looks so cool!! I think my kids would love it (and so would I!). We are definitely adding it to our list of places to visit in Utah.

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  21. I just recently went to Utah (and will posting about it as well!) but, I never went here before! Such a great and wonderful post. I look forward into going back to utah to travel more hikes. Maybe someday we can collab and talk about it!

  22. Very good info, and I love all your photos! Utah has so many fantastic places to hike-we want to plan a trip to southern Utah soon. Thanks for the tips!

  23. Wow! I’ve never been to Utah and want to go so badly! I’ve never heard of Goblin Valley before, but will definitely be adding to my list of places to visit when I do make it out there. Thanks!

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