Visiting this state park is like a journey to another planet! Goblin Valley State Park in remote south-central Utah is full of rocks that resemble otherworldly creatures. In fact, parts of the space movie Galaxy Quest were filmed among the park’s Martian-like scenery.

goblin-rocksThe unusual sandstone formations were carved by flowing water and smoothed by blowing dust over the millennia. Geologists will delight in examining the exposed bedrock and various sedimentary layers throughout the park, which also serve as examples for teaching children about some of the earth’s natural processes.

General Info: Goblin Valley State Park is located in Emery County between the towns of Green River and Hanksville. The park includes more than 3,000 acres of unusual rock formations in a dusty desert valley about 24 miles south of I-70 on Highway 24. At an elevation of 5,100 ft., remember to schedule water breaks and rest time into your day’s plans to prevent altitude sickness or heat stroke. Find out more about the park in the September issue of Utah Travel Tips.

Hours and Fees: The park is open daily year-round. Day use entry costs $7, while camping costs $16 per night (see camping details below). For more details call the park office at (435) 564-3633. View a map of the park for a general lay of the land.

goblin-valley-movieActivities: Hiking and rock climbing are the obvious activities in this park and there are several great trails to explore. Narrow slot canyon trails are best suited for more experienced hikers, and should be avoided altogether if there is a chance of rain. Flash floods can roar through these narrows if there is rain anywhere in the general drainage system.

The unique setting also provides terrific subject matter for photography or painting. Some visitors even perch upon the rocks for meditation, yoga and the like. Children will no doubt love to crawl all over the odd-looking rocks, so perhaps you can turn it into a game by asking each child what they think a particular rock looks like. It will stimulate their creativity and imaginations while leaving memories of a fun visit they can share with their friends back home. The Junior Ranger program is another fun way for kids to experience the park. It’s tailored to kids ages 6-12, but everyone is welcome. Ask a park ranger for details upon your arrival.

ATVs and off-road vehicles are not permitted in the park itself, but there are several miles of dirt roads near the park entrance where you can kick up some dust. Find out more at the Visitor Center upon your arrival, or call ahead (435) 564-3633. Bicycles are allowed only on paved park roads and in parking areas. Read the park rules before your visit.

Pets: Dogs are welcome provided they are kept on a leash and all waste is properly discarded. Keep your pets under control at all times for their own safety and that of area wildlife.

goblin-campground-mapCamping Info: The campground has 25 paved RV sites spacious enough for big rigs. Each site features a picnic table and barbecue grill. The campground also has modern restrooms with hot water showers and culinary water system. A sanitary dump station is available for your convenience. Call the park office at (435) 564-3633 for more information. The park also offers a group pavilion and an observation outlook for your enjoyment.

Weather: Thunderstorms are likely during the monsoon season from July to September, and can cause flash flooding. Summer is typically hot and dry, with average July temperatures starting from 85°F and on into the 100s. However, the high altitude can bring sudden temperature changes, such as cooler nights even in summer.

If you’re from the Beehive State or have visited Goblin Valley State Park in the past, please chime in with your stories and tips! Your insights can help others have a fantastic trip. Since I struggled to find detailed information about this park, I could really use some help this week. Please post a comment below to share what you know about this area! Thanks!

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4 comments

  1. BARRY ENGLEMAN

    Christina:

    We stayed at Goblin State Park last September. We used it as a base to do a hike into Horseshoe Canyon which is in a small detached section of Canyonlands.

    This is a wonderful six mile round trip hike that takes you past several large pictograph sites and ends at The Great Gallery which has some very well known pictographs. We were the only ones there. It is a great destination. The hike also offered up, for us, a chance meeting with a very large petrified dinosaur bone just lying in a a dry (at the time) stream bed. You don’t run into one of these every day. It was very exciting to find, view and record on our camera.

    Goblin is dry camping within your RV but there are showers, water and a dump station available. It is a beautiful destination. When we were there, the majority of the campers were in tents but small, medium and large rigs won’t have a problem getting settled. We like it when the crowd in mixed. We have a 36′ Beaver Santiam.

    If anyone happens to go there when the ranger is doing a night walking tour of the goblins, make sure you sign up. We didn’t have a full moon the night we went but I might plan our next trip back to be during a full moon just for the experience. We will go back. It is not that hard to get to and there are lots of things we missed the first time.

    So, it was finally time to move on to other southern Utah destinations. But, I hadn’t run the generator when I should have and I couldn’t get the slides in. And, the generator wouldn’t start. Oh boy! And, this place has no sevices. I finally got the generator started by using the chassis batteries. Ya-dah, Ya-dah, Ya-dah, if you know what I mean with regard to RV’s and their not so bright owners! We still enjoyed every single minute of our stay at Goblin State Park and we will go back.

    Thanks
    Barry

  2. Hi Barry,

    Thanks for the great story! And I’m very much indebted to you for the pointers for RV camping at the park–it’s precisely the information I was hoping for.

    Sounds like you can relate to the blog post by Nick Russell urging RVers to “Use That Generator!” to maintain optimal performance. I don’t know about your family, but for mine those little hiccups always make for memorable vacation “adventures.” 🙂

    Also, I just found a scenic route that’s on the way to Hanksville that may be worth a look on your return trip to the park (depending on which direction you’re coming from). The Bicentennial Highway runs for 133 miles from Hanksville to Blanding on Utah’s Route 95. It passes through Glen Canyon Recreation Area (where the Hite Overlook offers views of Lake Powell), Natural Bridges National Monument, and Edge of the Cedars State Park, to mention a few of the well-known points of interest. There are several nearby hiking trails to explore when you stop to stretch your legs along the way. Once you’ve reached Blanding, you can continue on to Colorado on the Trail of the Ancients National Scenic Byway.

    Thanks again for your feedback!

  3. BARRY ENGLEMAN

    Christina:

    We did Hwy 95 on the way back from Zion, Bryce and Captiol Reef. What incredible territory. We stopped at Natural Bridges and then stayed four days in Blanding. Gooseneck State Park is definiltely a view you won’t see too often. It is even pretty good on Google Earth. Anyway, anyone wanting to travel the back roads, and they are all good back roads, try southern Utah.

    The little hiccups can boil our blood once in a while for a few minutes but we always find a way to laugh with them after those few minutes are over.

    Thanks
    Barry

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