A Trip To Goblin Valley State Park

Take a hike through the amazing rock formations or camp underneath the starry night skies at Goblin Valley State Park.

By Joanna Lee
Camp Ambassador

Goblin Valley State Park became a state park in 1964. Remote but beautiful, it is located in the San Rafael Swell region of Utah. It is unique, colorful and a lot of fun. It is best known for its unique rock formations that look like goblins and its exposed sandstone cliffs. The best part about this area is that there is something for everyone. There is the area within the state park boundaries, and there is also the surrounding public land, which is vast and equally beautiful. Be careful about checking the weather before your trip, because the exposed bedrock and lack of vegetation in the area make certain hikes particularly susceptible to flash floods.


To enter the state park there is a $10 daily fee. This allows you access to hiking, mountain biking, a disc golf course and monthly night skies events. If you want to camp in the park, there is an additional fee (see below).

Hiking:  There is a wide variety of options for hiking in Goblin Valley State Park. Whether you prefer a designated trail or want to explore the wilderness and navigate slot canyons, there is something for everyone. Closest to the state park entrance is the first valley. This area is mostly flat with several groupings of “goblin” formations. You are free to wander this area and will undoubtedly find stunning views and something you find fascinating. If you hike through the entire first valley, you will come to a white, dome-like structure; past this is the second valley. In the second valley you will encounter taller goblin formations and several canyons. Beyond this point, the state park continues and eventually merges with public land: the Big Wild Horse Mesa Wilderness Area.

Joanna’s trail recommendations:

  • The Three Sisters: If you are looking for less hiking and more views, this trail is perfect. It is a 250-yard trail that leads to the most well-known and iconic goblin formation in the park.
  • The Goblin’s Lair: This 2.5-mile loop is hidden away on the east side of the park. It is not actually a lair but a slot canyon that was sealed by rockfall a long, long time ago. It does entail a little scrambling over boulders, so plan accordingly with footwear and clothing. There is also the option, with a permit, to rappel into the slot canyon from above.
  • Little Wild Horse Canyon & Bell Canyon Loop: If you prefer a more strenuous hiking adventure with a little navigation, I highly recommend this trail; it is my personal favorite in the area. It is outside the state park in the neighboring public land. It is an 8-mile loop that features both narrow slot canyons and vast desert terrain with goblin formations. It is challenging but rewarding. Make sure to carry plenty of water and appropriate hiking gear, as it is a remote route.

Mountain Biking: In 2015, the state park opened a new mountain biking trail system with varying length and difficulty options. You can check out this link for trail information and maps.

Disc Golf: This unique and optionally challenging disc golf course is free to play, with a small fee for disc rentals. Holes 1 through 10 are on relatively flat and easy terrain. Holes 11 through 20 extend into sand dunes and picturesque canyons. Make sure to bring appropriate footwear and plenty of water if you choose this adventure option.

Night Skies: In 2015, the National Park Service’s Night Sky Team labeled Goblin Valley State Park as one of the darkest night skies on earth. It is essentially free of any light pollution and regularly offers views of the Milky Way. Each month there are ranger-led events, such as moonlit hikes and telescope tours. This area is well known in the photography industry as a fantastic location to capture night photography.


As mentioned above, this state park is remote in terms of its location. If you want to stay in or very close to the park, camping is the best option. However, there are a few options within one to two hours if you prefer to stay in a hotel.

About 45 minutes north of the entrance to the park, there are multiple hotel options located in Green River. About 1 1/2 hours south of the entrance to the park there are also multiple hotel options, including the Capitol Reef Resort. You will find multiple restaurant options in both of these areas. Another option, with about a two-hour drive, is Moab. Here you will have a much wider variety of hotel and restaurant options.

If you prefer to camp and the weather permits, there are multiple camping options. There is an established campground within the state park with 24 campsites and amenities, including bathrooms, showers, drinking water and more. It accommodates both tent camping and RV camping. Campsites do require a reservation and cost $45 per night. The final option is my personal favorite: dispersed camping. The state park is surrounded by 6,000 acres of public land, mainly around Wild Horse Road, with plentiful campsites that offer seclusion and beautiful views and are free. Be sure to check the weather forecast and fire restrictions before your trip.

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