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The Complete Guide To Goblin Valley State Park

Goblin Valley State Park at sunset with a golden glow
Valley of The Goblins

Located northeast of the famous Capitol Reef National Park or directly west of Moab you will find Goblin Valley State Park. While this State Park is definitely worth a visit, it is not the easiest place to get to. Making it a rather quiet park. But simply driving into the park will have you in awe. 

Goblin Valley has been formed over 170 million years. An ancient sea layered the area with mud, sand, and silt. And over millions of years, rain, snow, sun, etc have formed these unique formations into what we see today. And will continue to erode the formations to be even more different in the many years to come. 

While Goblin Valley State Park is rather small, there is still plenty to do to fill up a day or two of full-on adventure. So, let’s dive into the complete guide to Goblin Valley State Park to learn everything you need to know about this park. 

Fees At Goblin Valley State Park:

There is a $20 entrance fee per vehicle. While we find this a bit steep for the size of the park, it’s always worth helping out the park keep the place in great condition. 

And only $10 if you are on a motorcycle, bicycle, or on foot. 

Safety Precautions At Goblin Valley State Park:

Jake & Emily hiking the Valley of the Goblins in Goblin Valley State Park
Valley of The Goblins

Weather :

Golbin Valley is in the desert, so temperatures during the summer can easily reach over 100 degrees. If summer is the only time you can visit the park, leave your hiking adventures to early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid the heat.

During the summer months, you should also be aware of lighting. Due to the low humidity in the desert climates, there are often afternoon thunderstorms. And because Goblin Valley is a rather open area, it increases the danger to get struck by lightning. Seek shelter immediately and avoid hiking if a thunderstorm rolls through the area.

Avoid slot canyons and caves if there is any precipitation in the forecast. Those same powerful forces that help shape these cool features, can become deadly with flash floods. Check with the visitor center if you are unsure.

Check out our post: Tips For Hiking in the Desert


As the weather increasingly becomes warmer, the more water you need to drink. It is suggested to have at least a gallon per person per day. There is a drinking water spout at the entrance of the park and at the main parking area, so be sure to stock up if you need drinking water before a hike. Always bring more than you think you will drink!


In this area of the desert, you will find scorpions and rattlesnakes. For the most part, these creatures will avoid you if you avoid them. But do keep a lookout while hiking or camping. If you get stung or bitten, seek immediate help.

Also in the desert climates, you will find jackrabbits, kangaroo rats, pronghorn, kit foxes, and coyotes. Most of these animals are nocturnal to avoid the mid-day summer heat. Therefore, it’s unlikely to see many of them out during the day, 

Are Pets Allowed At Goblin Valley State Park?

Pets are allowed in the park but must be kept on a 6-foot leash. Also, waste must be properly picked up and disposed of. 

Gas Stations:

This area is pretty remote, while you won’t be driving too much at this state park, it’s always good to have a full tank when traveling in remote areas. Especially because you might not know when you will see the next one! Plus, gas stations in remote areas tend to be much more expensive, because they are harder for the trucks to get to. Therefore, make sure to top off your gas tank in one of the nearby small towns. 

Green River or Hanksville are two decent stops depending on the direction are traveling to the park.


This whole area doesn’t have very good cell service, if at all. But, we did happen to find 1-2 bars of Verizon in the main parking lot (Goblin Valley Overlook). I just wouldn’t expect to have much service in the rest of the park, so plan accordingly.

Jake and I like to download any hikes we have planned on the AllTrails app before going completely off-grid. As well as have a campsite in mind and general directions, because otherwise, you won’t be able to find your way out there. And you can always stop at the Visitor Center during business hours for help and advice.

Best Time To Visit Goblin Valley State Park:

Like most desert activities, it’s most comfortable to visit in spring and fall. The temperatures will be much more comfortable between the 60s & 80s. Although, the temperatures tend to drop at night, so if you plan to camp, be sure to pack layers and have a decent sleeping bag.

Best Hikes At Goblin Valley State Park:

Valley Of The Goblins:

Everyone that visits the park obviously comes for the unique views of the hoodoos. And the best place to see them is the Valley Of The Goblins.

But what’s unique is that you can get up close and personal with the hoodoos via the Valley Of The Goblins Hike. There is no set trail in this area covering 3 square miles. Therefore, you can choose your own path, just be sure you know your way back to the parking lot! And the park asks that you practice good behavior by not climbing on the delicate hoodoos.

But as photographers, always looking for that unique vantage point, there are several dirt hills in the valley that are perfect for getting a better view. We recommend being there for lighting early or late in the day. And looking north or south reveals some nice shadows and contrast from the sun beaming east-west.

Goblin’s Lair Trail:

a view of Goblin's Lair Cave in Goblin Valley State Park
Goblin’s Lair
a glowing view through Goblette's Lair in Goblin Valley State Park
Gobblette’s Lair

Besides just viewing the unique geologic wonders of goblin valley from above, the “coolest” hike within the park is Goblin’s Lair. (Pun intended, it’s typically 5-15 degrees colder in the caves).

The hike is fairly easy, although, you must pay attention to the signage, otherwise it can be easy to get lost. But the hike is 3 miles out and back and leads you to the Goblin Lair which is a very cool cave.

There is a bit of a scramble involved to get up to the entrance of the cave. And also a scramble to get down into the cave. 

Do not climb in if you are at all uncomfortable. Goblin Valley State Park is in a remote location, so help is far away. And this section of the trail can be dangerous. But nonetheless, it is possible to get down inside the cave if you are reasonably fit.

It is definitely worth it and by far one of the most unique caves in the park. Goblin’s Lair is soo much bigger than it seems in pictures.

Just past the Goblin’s Lair, you will find Goblette’s Lair, another small cave. This one is quite a bit smaller in size, but honestly worth the extra .15 miles to get over here. Plus from a photography aspect, the lighting was better in Goblette’s Lair.

Canyoneering Goblin’s Lair:

An even more fun way to access Goblin’s Lair is by a canyoneering expedition. Unless you have canyoneering experience, this adventure is best done with a tour guide. That way you can safely make it into the canyon with the proper gear and coaching.

Learn more about canyoneering Goblins Lair

Carmel Canyon:

If you like loop hikes, then Carmel Canyon Loop is a great hike for you. The hike is 1.5 miles and a rather easy hike from the parking lot into the valley of goblins. This trail is the starting portion of different hikes in the area, so be sure to follow the signs if you strictly want to stay on this path only. But the hike leads you along a trail where you can view the unique hoodoo formations, and down to the desert floor.

There comes a crucial turn off which will lead you into the canyon. Here you will walk through a narrow slot canyon, with shallow walls. It’s definitely a unique hike in the park, and if you’ve never witnessed a slot canyon, don’t miss this one.

This hike can also be paired with Goblin’s Lair Hike or the Three Sisters.

Curtis Bench Trail:

If you are looking for an easy hike that follows the Curtis Formation and gets a unique view above goblin valley, then this is the hike for you. Much of the hoodoos at Goblin Valley State Park are made up of Entrada Sandstone which is rather soft. The white rock that sits above the Entrada Sandstone is called the Curtis Formation. Which is much harder and more resilient to weathering.

Curtis Bench hike is 2.1 miles, out and back that offers beautiful views of the surrounding area.

Three Sisters:

The Three Sisters

The Three Sisters is an iconic goblin formation in the park. This formations can be viewed right from the road on your way to the main parking lot, but if you want to get closer, you can walk right up to it. You can get closer to it via Carmel Canyon Trail or a short hike right off the road. There is a small pull-off that allows about 2-3 cars to park. 

Entrada Canyon Trail:

Entrada Canyon Trail is moreso for the guests staying in the campground to get to the main part of the park. This 1.3 mile hike leads you from the campground to the parking area where most day-use visitors park. It leads you through a natural drainage that has unique discoveries. 

Mountain Biking At Goblin Valley State Park: 

If you want to explore Goblin Valley State Park on two wheels, then there are some awesome biking trails. But it doesn’t go through the famous goblin hoodoo formations, rather beautiful views of Wild Horse Butte. Wild Horse Mountain Biking Trails stretches about 8.7 miles if you want to hit every section of trail.

Mountain biking isn’t really Jake and my thing, so you should check out Utah Mountain Biking for more details about mountain biking in the area.

Night Sky At Goblin Valley State Park: 

Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

Goblin Valley is known to have one of the darkest night skies on earth. Like mentioned above, this park is hard to get to. And that is why the night sky is one of the best. The surrounding towns of Green River, Hanksville, Cainville, and Emery are rather small towns that don’t put off much light pollution. It gets extremely dark at night making the sky so good to see individual stars constellations and the milky way. Which leads me to why you should consider camping while visiting Goblin Valley State Park. 

Camping At Goblin Valley State Park:

Goblin Valley State Park has a very unique opportunity for camping. But, you will need to plan well in advance to snag a spot here. They have 2 super cool yurts you can stay in that are located amongst the red rock walls. The cost starts at around $100/night. 

Photo by Vitor Rossetto on Unsplash

Besides the unique yurts, you will find the campground which has 24 marked sites, and additionally, group camping sites. The campground has bathrooms & showers for paying guests. Campsites can be made up to 16 weeks in advance. And group campsites can be made up to 11 weeks in advance. Visit the Goblin Valley State Park website. There is also drinking water, dump stations, and shaded picnic areas. 

Free Camping:

a free campsite right outside Goblin Valley State Park
Free Campsite Outside Goblin Valley State Park

Located just outside the park on BLM land to the west, you can find free dispersed camping. This is honestly one of the coolest campsites Jake and I have encountered. You can be nestled between tall textured walls. Jake and I even had our own personal slot canyon to explore right from our campsite.

Limit your driving to existing roads, and camp only in previously disturbed areas. Expect no amenities and as always, Leave No Trace. If you are not familiar with dispersed, or wild camping and want to try it out, please read our tips: Beginners Guide to Wild Camping and Boondocking.

Takeaway | Goblin Valley State Park

a view from the first section of Carmel Canyon Trail at Goblin Valley State Park

I definitely think of Goblin Valley State Park is a must-visit place, if you are nearby. While it is unique to see, it’s not necessarily worth making a whole special trip to just visit this one park. Especially because you really only need a day to explore the park. But that’s not to say there aren’t so many other cool attractions nearby that can be paired with this trip to totally make it worth it! 

Also be sure to check out nearby attractions:

Little Wild Horse:

one of the best slot canyons in utah

If you enjoyed the attractions at Goblin Valley State Park, then you can’t miss Little Wild Horse & Bell Canyon hike. This is a 7.8 mile loop hike and to this day remains one of our all-time favorite slot canyons.

It’s located in the San Rafael Swell between Green River and Hanksville, Utah. It contains lots of variety, from super narrow slot sections to wide serpentine canyons, and open panoramas behind the San Rafael Swell. Check out our Little Wild Horse Hiking Guide for all the details.

Molly’s Castle:

While you can definitely see Molly’s Castle from some of the hikes mentioned above, there is a cool 4×4 trail that leads to this area. The road out to Molly’s Castle is about 1.7 miles.

Capitol Reef National Park:

And of course, if you are in the area, you gotta check out Capitol Reef National Park. There are seriously endless trails in the area. Check out our in-depth guide for best things to do in Capitol Reef National Park.

Moab, Utah

And just to the east is the town of Moab, basically the Mecca of outdoor desert activities. Home to both Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, as well as countless other amazing landscapes.

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