15 Best Things to do in Goblin State Park in Utah

15 Epic Things to do in Goblin State Park: What to do with Limited Time in the Park

Goblin Valley State Park is located in southeast Utah. It is a great place to stop off between Capitol Reef and Moab.

In this Goblin Valley State Park Travel Guide I cover Goblin Valley Hikes, What to do in Goblin State Park, and tips for visiting.

Bird’s eye view of the Goblin Valley at Sunset with the colorful sky above

Practical Information for Visiting Goblin Valley State Park

Here’s how close Goblin Valley is to other locations in Utah

Salt Lake City: 225 miles, 3 hours 30 minutes

Moab: 100 miles, 1 hour 30 minutes

Capitol Reef: 80 miles, 1 hour 30 minutes

Hanksville: 32 miles, 35 minutes

The park is open daily from 6am to 10pm and costs $20 per vehicle to enter.

What to do in Goblin State Park

Observation Point

The Observation Point is a wonderful start to exploring Goblin State Park. Generally, a parking lot turned observation point, guests can see the vastness of Goblin State Park from this vantage point. Prehistorically, Goblin State Park was a tidal flat between a massive inland sea to the north and continental mountains and hills to the west.

Strange and colorful landscape filled with bizarre sandstone rock formations

Eroded through wind, water, and time, Goblin State Park was then formed into what it is now with its unique shapes and obscure rock formations that amazingly look like unearthly creatures that have just sprouted from the ground below.  Guests can see thousands of mushroom-shaped pillars that resemble “goblins” hence the namesake of the park. Curious and very intriguing, these little rock formations have attracted tourists to view this amazing creation of nature.

As one of Utah’s most popular state parks, Goblin State Park is full of adventure and every nook and cranny will always bring a new discovery to adventurers. 

Explore the Valley 1

For a more interesting trip and for those who prefer to veer off the path usually taken, Goblin Valley State Park has 3 valleys that have no official trails, no marked boundaries, and are filled to the brim with unique hoodoos or “goblins”. One of the three valleys, unnamed but well-loved, has challenging trails that lead to the top of the cliff that is located at the edge of the valleys.

This valley is the first that people will see from the observation deck and is usually the view that would keep guests coming back for more and explore through the unique hoodoos of the park. The hoodoos from this location are spread out but become denser when guests climb up the cliffs on the opposite side of the valley floor. 

Explore the Valley 2

Southeast to the first valley is the second valley of Goblin State Park. This valley is entered just by following south of the observation point where it spreads into the east of the creek with two major runoffs coming down from the cliffs above. The second valley contains more hoodoos than the first one and is more maze-like in the landscape. Here, guests who venture into the second valley find allure in the Mars-like location that the area visualizes. 

Explore the Valley 3

For hikers and adventurers who have committed to touring the entirety of Goblin State Park, the third valley is one for the books. Very few really venture out into the third valley since it’s a bit of a hike plus it needs commitment to actually finish viewing the entire park itself. Guests usually just stick to valley 1, view the park from the observation deck, and just call it a day. But those who go out into Valley 3 of Goblin State Park have the dedication to see just how marvelous and awesome the park truly is.

Past the 2nd valley, the goblins will have dispersed for a good stretch until they will suddenly reappear and are more in numbers than before. The third valley itself stretches out to the east and is larger than Vally 1 and 2 are combined. The Valley is massive and could be explored for an entire day. Take pictures and roam through the hoodoos that are unique to the park.

Go on a hike – Goblin’s Lair

Known as the Chamber of the Basilisk, The Goblin’s Lair is one of the park’s most anticipated attractions. The hike involves an out-and-back trail that pans up a rocky slope and ends in a massive cavern-like formation that has been dubbed as the Goblin’s Lair with its whimsy flair. This hike is incredibly popular for locals and tourists especially for those who want to try hiking for the first time. Going on a hike here will surely make you fall in love with the sport.

The trip into the lair itself is easy and amazing. Not only is the hike scenic with the beautiful contrasting rock formations, it is also full of wildlife that calls the valley their home. The cavern that is featured in the Goblin’s Lair is actually a gorgeous slot canyon where light pours in from more than 100 feet above the chamber floor. Usually, guests climb up from the west, rappel down into the Chamber of the Basilisk, and exit out on the east trail. 

Go on a hike – Three Sisters

The Three Sisters of Goblin State Park is one of the most iconic goblin formations in the location. The hike to the attraction is a 1.6 kilometer moderately trafficked loop trail that offers one of the best views in the park and features a family-friendly trail that makes it accessible and fun for all guests. What makes the Three Sisters so iconic is the very peculiar stone formation in the middle of the desert field.

Three Sisters Hoodoos Goblin Valley State Park Rock Canyon San Rafael Desert Utah USA Southwest. Thousands of rock hoodoos mushroom shaped like little goblins and munchkins. Sandstone on top erosion-resistant rock. Goblins look like modern art statues.

The three-stone formations highly resemble rook chess pieces whose shape can also be likened to a small goblin-like creature. Strange, it may seem, but people flock to this trail on peak seasons to see the unique naturally formed rock formations that just put you in awe of what nature can do.

Hike – Curtis Bench

The Curtis Bench trail is known to be the easiest to do in Goblin State Park. This trail runs 1.05 miles south from the Goblin Valley picnic area that takes you to a high viewpoint over the Valley of the Goblins and various canyons. The trail itself offers a well-loved route that takes you into the most remote parts of the Goblin amphitheater and lets you view the gorgeous Curtis Formation. Not only does it show the unique formations that are only available to this trail, but it also lets you get a good view of Goblin Valley and the Henry Mountains in the distance.

Goblin state park near Hanksville, Utah, USA

Along the way, guests will see various specimens that are unique to the Goblin Valleys such as pieces of agates, chert, caviar agate,  and alabaster. The Curtis Bench trail is the perfect choice for hikers who prefer a much less crowded trail as it leads to an alternative route into a lightly traveled corner of the Valley of the Goblin. Camping is most preferred around these areas as it is away from large crowds and provides one of the best views of the sunrise and sunset that highlights the beauty of the canyons. 

Hike – Entrada Canyon

The Entrada Canyon Trail is located in Goblin Valley State Park of Utah and due to its popularity, guests usually book earlier in the campgrounds since the view during the sunrise and sunset periods are absolutely immaculate. The Entrada Canyon Hike lets you go on an adventure trail that takes you from the campgrounds to the goblins and curious rock formations. The hike itself is 1.2 miles and is good for beginners, beginners who wish to test their skills and take it to the next level, and experienced pros. There are signs on every trail fork so that guests would not have a hard time navigating through the location.

Since the park is actually wide and vast, it would be wise to stick with a hiking buddy for added safety. On the hike, you’ll see very interesting specimens of rock such as chert, agate, jasper, and alabaster. The trail itself follows a very intricate drainage system that leads you into the canyon itself. The serpentine-like canyon is estimated to be a maximum of 20 feet in height and it still blocks all the views of the surrounding area but gives you gorgeous visuals of the canyon’s contrasting colors. As you hike through the canyon, you’ll see the Entrada Sandstone weathering away into what is known as hoodoos or “goblins” giving the valley its name. 

Goblin Valley Hikes – Carmel Canyon Loop

If you wish to see the inside of the Goblin’s Lair, rappelling into one of the slot canyons of Goblin State Park is one of the ways to enjoy its beauty. This trail conveniently connects with the Goblin’s Lair Trail and ends with a gorgeous visual of the contrasting canyon rocks. This challenging trail is a 1.5-mile loop that guides from the parking to the desert floor.

Goblin state park near Hanksville, Utah, USA

This trail is popular for tourists and hikers as it offers a chance to see wildlife and the trail itself is a new challenge for beginners who wish to test their skills and endurance up a notch. This trail is popular for those who choose to go on a trail that is flexible which means that hikers are allowed to customize their own trail as they please – while following safety measures, of course. The trail gives guests a wonderful sight of local wildflowers, various plant species, and unique rock species. 

See the Sandstone Formations – Goblins

Part of the allure of going to Goblin State Park is seeing the reason why it was named as such. The Goblin Valley consists of thousands, as far as the eye can see, of small red-brown rock formations that are shaped like mushrooms and are peculiarly dubbed as “goblins”.

The “Goblin” rock formation is one of two locations in the Southwest that has one of the highest numbers of hoodoos in the whole world. It doesn’t take long to tour around Goblin Valley – a quick hike is of no sweat as the location just takes your mind off of the time spent at Goblin State Park. The park offers campgrounds for adventurers who wish to see the sunset and the sunrise shine through the valleys and canyons that Goblin Park has.

Go Stargazing

With Utah known as home to one of the nine locations that the  International Dark-Sky Association recognizes as perfect for viewing the glorious night skies, it is no wonder that Goblin State Park is known for the absence of light pollution which makes the stargazing in the park one of the best. The Southwest is one of the best locations to go to when in the mood to go stargazing and it is known that the view in Goblin State Park is a view like no other.

The glorious views of the Milky Way with other celestial bodies are perfectly paired with the gorgeous landscapes of Goblin State Park. The Park offers campgrounds for guests who wish to stay and enjoy the night sky and view the sunrise the morning after. 

Go Mountain biking on the Wild Horse Trail System

For biking hobbyists, mountain biking on the Wild Horse Trail System is perfect for your next adventure. This challenging track includes seven miles of singletrack mountain bike trail and it sits on a small mesa west of the campgrounds of the Goblin State Park. Biking has never been so picturesque with the Wild Horse Trail System highlighting the beauty of Goblin Park. The trail itself features the unique landscape of the park that makes it popular.

Other than Goblin Park’s beauty, the trail also gives a beautiful view of gorgeous canyons, cool rock slabs, and endlessly blue skies. The trail also forms interconnected loops so guests can freely ride as much as they want. Each trail fork includes a trail map on a post so guests would be guided on where they are and where they should go next. The trail itself is challenging, thrilling, and fun! Bikers keep coming back for more on this trail system that just gives the right amount of adrenaline rush for the next adventure. 

Rappel into Goblin’s Lair

Another fun and thrilling adventure that awaits is rappelling into the Goblin’s Lair. At first glance, the rock climbing activity might be difficult and a bit terrifying to do but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be hooked to go back for more. Rappelling into the Goblin’s Lair is one of the favorite recreations to do in the park.

Once inside the “lair”, you’ll see a beautiful slot canyon with a slit of light shining through that highlights the streaks of red that accentuates the canyon walls. Those who have visited before have definitely given positively raving reviews about the trip into the lair and you definitely do not want to miss out.

Play Disc Golf

The Disc Golf course in Goblin State Park is no small feat. It’s scenic, rough, challenging, and is enough to build a sweat for enthusiasts and pro-players of the sport alike. Officially recognized by the Professional Disc Golf Association, the course at Goblin State Park is one of the most unique and challenging disc golf courses in the area.  Goblin State Park offers a 9-hole disc golf course that is free to play.

Guests may choose to bring their own discs or may rent them from the venue site. Pliers would surely feel like they’re playing disc golf on Mars with the unique landscape the course has; each hole is surrounded by little hoodoos. The course is challenging, fun, and is enough to break a sweat for beginners and pros alike! 

American Southwest Obsessed

Nicole is a travel expert who has been traveling to the American Southwest since 1992. There is so much to see and do in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, and California. I spend part of the year in Phoenix and travel around the area visiting all the best places and going on the best hikes. Check out my detailed destination guides, the best hiking in each state guides, and the travel gear you need for your next trip.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Recent Posts