This Western State Park Is The Perfect Destination For Thrilling Outdoor Adventures

Have you ever fantasized about stepping on another planet? Then brace yourself for the sights at Goblin Valley State Park. It's like an otherworldly getaway — no spaceship required. The park is famous for its unique, alien-like geological formations, particularly the haunting "goblin" structures. These peculiar rock formations are shaped like mushrooms or goblins because of centuries of erosion, lending the park its distinct character and name.

In Southeastern Utah, Goblin Valley State Park spans an expansive 3,654 acres of enticing terrain, making it a wildly popular outdoor destination for families, adventure seekers, and photographers. Located just 12 miles off the beaten path of Interstate 70 (exit 149), Goblin Valley is an easy drive from other popular National Parks in Moab, Utah, Canyonlands and Arches National Park.

The park's "goblins," formed from 170 million-year-old Entrada sandstone, look like they've been sculpted by hand. The unique hoodoos tower up to 50 feet tall and are scattered throughout a 3 square mile area of the park's three distinct valleys, known together as the Valley of Goblins. The unique red rock formations, combined with the towering mesas and buttes in the background, give an unearthly feel to the park, but the sheer amount of adventure waiting in this park is really out of this world. 

Canyoneering and hiking in Goblin Valley

Canyoneering in Goblin Valley is a unique and thrilling experience unlike any other. The Goblin's Lair, also known as Chamber of the Basilisk, is a popular canyoneering route that takes hikers through narrow passages and rappelling 70 feet into dark chambers. This technical canyon requires a backcountry permit, proper gear, and knowledge, so it is recommended to go with a guide or canyoneering expert. 

Hiking is another popular activity in Goblin Valley, with easy to moderately difficult trails. The Goblin's Lair Trail is a strenuous hike, even if you choose not to take on a canyoneering adventure in the Goblin's Lair cave. The hike is 1.5 miles each way, beginning at the Carmel Canyon Trail observation point and following the Carmel Canyon Loop for a half mile until it splits toward the Goblin's Lair.

The moderately difficult 1.5-mile Carmel Canyon Trail heads opposite Goblin's Lair toward the Three Sisters and the Carmel Canyon Narrows formations. For an easier hike, particularly for families hiking with kids, the Curtis Bench Trail is a 2.1-mile easy trail that offers stunning views of the park's unique landscape. All three trails take hikers past the park's goblins, hoodoos, and rock formations.

Activities and accommodations for adventurers

Goblin Valley State Park provides ample activities and accommodations for adventurers to make the most out of their visit. Besides hiking and canyoneering, visitors can also enjoy one of the best regions for mountain biking and camping. Astronomy buffs can also stargaze at night in some of the darkest skies in the entire country.

The park is a fantastic destination for cyclists, with numerous trails catering to mountain bikers of all skill levels. Seasoned riders might want to tackle the 6-mile Wild Horse Butte Trail system, providing a more challenging adventure with panoramic vistas of the park. The trail is made up of five loops and offers a variety of terrains with easy and intermediate ratings.

The adventure continues beyond sunset. With such a remote location and minimal light pollution, Goblin Valley State Park is an official International Dark Sky Park and features some of the darkest skies in the region. Visitors can see a display of stars and constellations from the park's 25-spot campground (offering both primitive and RV sites) or on a ranger-led hiking event. The campground features two yurts for rent on the Utah State Parks website for those uninterested in camping life. For a chance at these ideal camping spots, book as early as possible.