SPOTLIGHT: Things to Do in and Around Goblin Valley State Park

By Elizabeth Barton

SPOTLIGHT: Things to Do in and Around Goblin Valley State Park

With 45 state parks in Utah, there’s no question why the state is one of the most popular for camping and outdoor-related tourism. From the state’s beautiful geologic structures to its snow-capped mountains, there is much to explore. Goblin Valley State Park is among the most unique. With its fascinating sandstone formations, wide-open desert spaces, and exciting nearby activities, the opportunities at Goblin Valley are endless. Here are the best things to do in and around the park!  

1. Goblin Valley State Park, Green River, UT

One of Utah’s most popular state parks, Goblin Valley State Park, is unlike anything else in Southern Utah, let alone the world. Featuring thousands of what are called “hoodoo rocks” (which locals refer to as “goblins”), the park feels more like the scene of an alien invasion than the red rock canyons you’d expect in the region. You can explore these mushroom-shaped sandstone formations as if they make up an interesting geological maze. Goblin Valley really is the ultimate, out-of-this-world playground. 

2. Hiking

Goblin Valley State Park isn’t known for long, established trails suited for traditional hiking. In fact, the best hiking in Goblin Valley takes place almost haphazardly. To get the most out of Goblin Valley, ditch your campsite and head to the park’s main event: the “Valley of Goblins.” There is no official trail here, but that’s part of what makes it fun. You can spend at least half the day hiking about this valley of strange rock formations and it’s unlikely you’ll experience an ounce of boredom. Keep in mind that during the winter months, it is rather cold here, so be sure to bundle up! 

3. Valley of Goblins Observation Point

If you want a great view of the Valley of Goblins, the Valley of Goblins Observation Point is probably your best bet. Even though it can be crowded depending on the season, it is undoubtedly the best view of the park, as well as the starting point for your descent into the valley. 

The cutest slugs I ever did see.

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4. Camping

Goblin Valley State Park has its very own campsite consisting of 25 individual sites and two yurts. Among the sites, there are 10 walk-in tent pads, 14 RV spaces, and one group site that can accommodate up to 35 people. Although the campsite isn’t technically located within the state park, it is directly adjacent to the park and features the same kind of geography that makes Goblin Valley famous. The nightly camping charge is $25, which includes the park’s $13 entry fee. As a part of this fee, not only do you get a campsite, but access to pay showers, free flush toilets, and a communal water and dump station. The park is open year-round, but an RV or yurt campsite would be the better move during the colder months. Head to the Reserve America website to get your campsite! 

5. Stan’s Burger Shak, Hanksville, UT

A short 13 miles from Goblin Valley State Park, Stan’s Burger Shak is a popular burger joint in Hanksville, Utah. After a long day outdoors, there really is nothing better than crispy onion rings, a burger, and a sweet drink. Here you can experience the delicacy that is Utah’s specialty “fry sauce” with all the love from a family-owned restaurant! 

6. John Wesley Powell River History Museum, Green River, UT

Why not explore a little local history while you’re here in Green River? The John Wesley Powell River History Museum is “the premier location for river runners and river history.” The museum digs deep into local history, illustrating the significance of the Green and Colorado rivers, and their impact on the history and culture of southeastern Utah. 

7. Stargazing

Recently designated as an “International Dark Sky Park,” Goblin Valley is one of the world’s premier locations for stargazing. The park has grown increasingly popular for stargazing over the past few years, given that it is free from any significant sources of light pollution. At Goblin Valley, you will witness one of the clearest and darkest night skies on the planet. Every month, the park holds a variety of ranger-led events such as telescope tours and moonlit hikes.

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