Driving between national parks in Utah’s vast and beautiful landscape, it seems easy to stay on the main highways as you keep to your carefully planned schedule. If, on the other hand, you want to take a side trip to really explore an uncrowded Utah, then consider making a detour to Goblin Valley State Park.
What is Goblin Valley?
Goblin Valley is a rock lover’s paradise and will delight all ages, children in particular. The red goblins call out to visitors to come explore, to climb, and to use your imagination. Is that shape a castle? Maybe a watchtower? Goblin Valley is simply an enchanting rock playground set in a desert landscape.
How is it different than Bryce or Arches or other national parks? Unlike its bigger cousins, Goblin Valley tickles the fancy, perhaps, because the scale of the park is smaller. You can run around the formations, climb upon them, and really experience red rock country with relatively few visitors or restrictions. There are a few foot paths, meandering amongst the goblins, but you can easily forge your own trail to examine individual rocks that capture your interest.
Fido is also welcome as long as the leash is no longer than 6-feet.
Goblin Valley Explorations
Exploring Goblin Valley is a very pleasurable way to spend several hours, provided it is not too hot and you have adequate drinking water. Due to the nature of the rock formations, it is easy for kids to become disoriented so keep them in sight.
From the picnic area, you can walk down into trail and enter the valley. If you have individuals in your party who do not want to walk amongst the goblins (or cannot), they can watch your progress from the picnic area.
Encourage your children’s imaginations in this fun park as you explore. Have a contest to see who can come up with the most creative name for a particular formation. Bring your camera to capture your children’s sheer delight as they scale up and down the red rocks.
If you like to go geocaching, see if you can find one of the caches in the park. They can be tricky to find since the formations often form little one-way canyons, much like a maze.
Goblin Valley Logistics
This unique state park is located along Highway 24, south of Interstate 70. It is approximately 216 miles south of Salt Lake City. Entrance fees are currently $7 per vehicle.
Be sure to pack plenty of water and food. It can get very hot during summer days in Goblin Valley so early morning or evening visits are recommended. There are covered picnic tables as well as restrooms.
Goblin Valley has a small visitor’s center that is open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and the staff is very friendly. There are times during the winter months that the center may be closed from time to time. The visitor center has souvenirs available for purchase and you can get your national park book stamped here with a Goblin Valley specific stamp.
Goblin Valley does have a campground for tents and RVs, although no hook-ups are available. Current rates are $16 per night and sites can be reserved in advance via Reserve America.
For another unique Utah side-trip, read my article on Devil’s Garden and enjoy your adventures!