38.5737° N, 110.7071° W
EXPLORE EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THIS ALIEN-LIKE LANDSCAPE IN OUR IN-DEPTH GOBLIN VALLEY STATE PARK TRAVEL GUIDE, INCLUDING THE BEST TIME TO VISIT, CAMPING IN THE PARK AND THE TOP HIKES AND ADVENTURES.
Goblin Valley State Park might just be one of the most unique places on the planet. In fact, it seems so otherworldly that it was actually used as the set for the sci-fi movie Galaxy Quest (which came out in the late 90s).
What really makes the state park's landscape so unique is its famous array of hoodoos, which are formations of mushroom-shaped rock pinnacles that can be several meters tall. The hoodoos, which are locally called "goblins," are formed from an erosion-resistant layer of rock atop somewhat softer sandstone. Goblin Valley State Park and its neighbor Bryce Canyon National Park actually contain some of the highest concentrations of hoodoos in the world.
Goblin Valley became a state park in 1964, though it has been protected by the state of Utah since 1956 (it was a state reserve before becoming a state park). The park was created in hopes of deterring any vandalism against the rock structures - which for the most part has succeeded.
Today, Goblin Valley State Park is one of the most visited state parks in the whole state of Utah (the park saw nearly half a million people in 2021). This is mostly thanks to the unique landscape, but also because it is a great destination for people with kids, people looking to explore the nearby San Rafael Swell, or people just looking for a chill place to camp out under the stars (Goblin Valley State Park is a designated International Dark Sky Park). Plus, unlike its neighbors Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park and Capitol Reef National Park, Goblin Valley is very dog friendly.
Our Goblin Valley State Park Travel Guide below covers everything you need to know about the park; including, directions to the park, the best time to visit, camping information (including where to camp for free nearby!), the best adventures and even a couple of park travel itineraries.
\\ How to Get to Goblin Valley State Park
Goblin Valley State Park is pretty darn remote, therefore it takes a bit of time and effort to reach. But with that being said, it is also well located within Utah to easily be added to other southern Utah adventures; including on visits to national parks like Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park and Capitol Reef National Park.
One important thing to note about this desert state park is that it doesn’t offer very many services. Therefore you must stock up on things like food, drinks and gasoline before visiting the state park. The best place to do this are in the towns of Green River (they have multiple gas stations), Grand Junction, Colorado (they have gas, large supermarkets and stores right off of the interstate) and Moab, Utah.
Once stocked up, start making your way towards Goblin Valley State Park. Below are directions from all of the major points within the state of Utah as well as a few popular places out of state.
❔ GOOD TO KNOW: if you are thinking of flying into the area and renting a car to explore Goblin Valley State Park (and the surrounding parks) then your best bet would be to fly into Salt Lake City, Utah. You can book a flight to and from SLC here.
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH | 3.5 hours // 223 miles
The closest major city (with an international airport) is Salt Lake City, Utah. To reach Goblin Valley State Park from Salt Lake City (SLC) you will need to head down Interstate 15 until you reach Highway 6. Take Hwy 6 all the way to Interstate 70 and then go west for a couple of miles until you reach the exit for Highway 24. Once on Highway 24, it is 36 miles until you see the turn off for the state park. From the highway, it is approximately 12 miles to the park entrance.
GREEN RIVER, UTAH | 50 minutes // 49 miles
To reach Goblin Valley State Park from Green River, the closest city with any form of services, you will head west on Interstate 70 until you see the exit for Highway 24 (there will be a sign for the state park). Once on Highway 24, head south for 36 miles until you see the turn off for the state park on the right. From the highway, it is 12 miles to the park entrance booth/visitor center.
💬 INSIDER TIP: looking for a delicious meal on your drive to Goblin Valley State Park? Then consider heading off the interstate and stopping in at Tacos La Pasadita, a small taco truck with ample seating and delicious food (and a wonderful salsa bar). We recommend the huevos rancheros and burritos.
MOAB, UTAH | 1 hour & 35 minutes // 101 miles
The popular adventure town of Moab, Utah (and its neighbors Arches National Park & Canyonlands National Park) are only around 100 miles from Goblin Valley State Park, which definitely makes it possible to visit the state park simply on a day trip from Moab.
To reach the state park from town, first head north on Highway 191 until you reach Interstate 70. From the interstate, go west towards Green River. Eventually, you will see the turn off for the state park and Highway 24. From the exit, it is another 36 miles to the turn off for the state park and then from there another 12 miles to the actual park entrance station.
CAPITOL REEF NATIONAL PARK | 1 hour // 60 miles
Another option is to add Goblin Valley State Park to your visit to Capitol Reef National Park - one of the lesser-visited national parks in the state of Utah. From the national park, it is around 60 miles on Highway 24 to the state park entrance. Along the way, you will pass through the small town of Hanksville - which though tiny - does have a gas station, a couple of motels and a few restaurants.
► Curious to learn more about this stunning desert national park? Then consider checking out our in-depth adventure guide on Capitol Reef National Park.
LAKE POWELL | 5 hours and 40 minutes // 327 miles
Another destination that might make sense to add a visit to the state park onto is Lake Powell. Located in the far southern half of the state (actually a good portion of it is in the state of Arizona), Lake Powell is quite a distance away from Goblin Valley. But if you are visiting the lake from Salt Lake City it might make sense to add a visit to the state park onto your itinerary.
Either way, to reach Goblin Valley State Park from Lake Powell (Page, Arizona specifically) you will need to head out on Highway 89 until you reach Highway 62 near the town of Junction. From there, turn right onto 62 towards Koosharem. Once in the small town of Koosharem, turn onto Highway 24 towards Capitol Reef National Park and Hanksville. Once through the park, simply turn left in Hanksville to stay on Highway 24 until you see signs for the state park on your left.
❔ GOOD TO KNOW: along this drive you also have the opportunity to stop off in Bryce Canyon National Park. From Lake Powell, Bryce Canyon is just over 2.5 hours away.
GRAND JUNCTION, COLORADO | 2 hours and 20 minutes // 151 miles
The closest big city outside of Utah to Goblin Valley State Park is Grand Junction, Colorado. This town is located practically on the border of Utah and offers numerous services along Interstate 70 (including gas, lodging, numerous big box stores and even a small airport). From Grand Junction it is just over 2 hours to the state park. Start off by heading west on Interstate 70, past the town of Green River, until you reach the exit for Highway 24. Once on Highway 24, keep going south for 36 miles until you see a sign for Goblin Valley State Park on your right.
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA | 6 hours and 12 minutes // 429 miles
The farthest point to begin your journey to Goblin Valley State Park is this mega-city in Nevada. Again, we recommend adding Goblin Valley State Park to your larger Utah road trip itinerary (like this one) and not just making it your only destination. For example, if coming from Las Vegas you can easily add it in on your way to Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park.
To reach Goblin Valley State Park from Las Vegas start by heading out east on Interstate 15 until you reach Interstate 70 near the town of Beaver. From the intersection, start heading east on I-70 until you get to the exit for Highway 24. Once on the highway, turn south and drive for 36 miles until you see the sign for the state park on your right.
\\ The Best Time to Visit Goblin Valley State Park
GOBLIN VALLEY STATE PARK WEATHER BY SEASON
The winter months can be downright cold - especially at night and in the early mornings. For the most part, you can expect the months of December, January and February to have average temperatures in the low to mid-30s (-1° C). This is also when the state park gets most of its precipitation - some of which can occur in the form of snow.
💬 INSIDER TIP: we have visited Goblin Valley State Park a couple of times in the winter and while we struggled a bit with the cold - especially during the night (we were camping), we actually really enjoyed this time of year because the park was practically empty. If you don't mind the cold, visiting in the months of November and December could be a great option, especially if you want to avoid crowds.
By the time March rolls around the temperatures start to rise into the 50s and 60s and the desert begins to bloom in colors of greens and pinks. Because of the great weather and the extra desert colors, the spring season is the busiest time in the state park. If you want to visit during this time of year we highly suggest arriving at the park early and reserving your campsite in advance.
The hot summer months (June - August) can see temperatures above 100° F (38° C). This is often the most dangerous and uncomfortable time to explore the state park for there is very little shade available and the heat can cause dehydration quickly. Also, due to summer monsoonal rains, heavy thunderstorms can sometimes occur within the park.
The warmer temperatures stick around into September with the average daily high still getting into the mid-80s (29° C). But by October the weather is once again perfect for adventuring - high 60s, cooler nights and plenty of sun. This is another popular time to visit the state park, though it is thankfully slightly less busy during the fall season than it is in the spring.
THE BEST TIME TO VISIT GOBLIN VALLEY STATE PARK
Goblin Valley State Park is a great place to visit no matter the time of year. While the summer heat can definitely cause a bit of discomfort - especially during the middle of the day - due to the desert's low humidity the nights are always cooler and quite nice (even in the middle of July).
While the spring season is the busiest time of year to visit, we also suggest checking out the park in the fall and early winter (October and mid-November specifically). During this time of year the crowds are almost non-existent and the daytime temperatures are wonderful.
\\ Where to Stay in Goblin Valley State Park
CAMPING IN GOBLIN VALLEY STATE PARK
If you are hoping to stay in the heart of Goblin Valley then your best option is to book a night in the state park's popular campground. Consisting of 25 camping sites and 2 yurts, this campground is extremely popular - especially during the busy spring season.
While we usually choose to free camp out in BLM land (more on that below) sometimes it is nice to not have to worry about finding a comfortable place to pitch your tent or where you are going to get potable water. Plus, and this perk is especially nice during the cold months of winter, the state park campground also has hot showers.
To reach the campground, head into the state park until you get to a T in the road. If you go left you will reach the large parking area for the Valley of Goblins (the main area of the park), whereas if you go right you will reach the campground, which is organized on one loop road.
You can reserve your Goblin Valley State Park campsite here.
| COST: $35 /night (includes entrance fee), then $20 for an extra vehicle (one car is included)
| HOURS: check-in is at 3 PM and check-out is at noon
| SERVICES: in your individual campsite there is a firepit, picnic table, wind and sun guard and a flat tent platform; outside of your individual campsite there are bathrooms with hot showers and running water, large trash bins and firewood for sale. There are no electrical hook-ups in the campground.
GOBLIN VALLEY YURTS
Now if you are looking for a more comfortable and luxurious way to stay the night in Goblin Valley State Park, then consider renting out one of the park’s famous yurts.
The park has two yurts available to rent on a nightly basis, both of which are set up the same way: one single bunk bed over a double bed and then a futon couch (the yurt can hold at least 4 people comfortably). There is also a table and chairs inside and a couple of outdoor chairs on the large deck (along with a grill). Both yurts come with heat and A/C.
Be aware that the yurts do usually get fully booked weeks and even months in advance. Therefore it is highly recommended that once you have dates set for your trip you should go online and make your reservation.
CAMPING OUTSIDE OF GOBLIN VALLEY
While camping in Goblin Valley is a fun and relatively comfortable experience, if you are instead looking to camp outside of the park - either because you don’t feel like paying to camp or if the campground is fully booked - then you are in luck for there are a TON of free camping spots within a short drive of the state park entrance.
Because the whole area around Goblin Valley State Park is BLM land (run by the Bureau of Land Management) you can find a wide array of boondocking sites. Some of the best places to head to are off of Road 1013, which is the same road you will drive to reach the entrance to the state park. While there are numerous large parking sites and dirt roads off of Road 1013 before the state park entrance, we believe some of the best areas are right after the entrance station. If your car can handle it, we recommend heading to this area.
Just remember to follow all Leave No Trace Principles when free camping and to also be considerate of your neighbors and the land you are camping on.
💬 INSIDER TIP: if you are planning to visit Goblin Valley State Park during its busy season (the months of April and May and then September and October) be prepared to find the BLM area around the park full of other boondockers. If possible, try to get a site early in the morning or on a weekday.
LODGING NEAR GOBLIN VALLEY STATE PARK
HOTELS AND MOTELS
The closest towns to Goblin Valley State Park are Hanksville (32 miles away), Green River (49 miles away) and Moab (101 miles away). For the most lodging options (including spots for all types of budgets), we recommend checking out Moab. Below are a few options:
| Whispering Sands Motel, Hanksville: this centrally located motel has all the amenities you could need for a comfortable stay in the southern Utah desert. Book your stay here.
| River Terrace Inn, Green River: another centrally located lodging option is to stay the night in Green River (which is about halfway between Goblin Valley State Park and Moab). This locally owned motel offers free breakfast, a pool, and ample parking. It is also located right next door to some of the best restaurants in town as well as the John Wesley Powell River History Museum. Book your stay here.
| The Gonzo Inn, Moab: this funky spot is located in the heart of downtown Moab, a place with a lot of charm, delicious restaurants and tasty coffee shops. The inn offers high-speed internet, a pool, free breakfast and parking and views of the surrounding red rock cliffs. Book your stay here.
If you are looking to plan a family trip to the Goblin Valley area - or you just want to meet up with a group of friends - then you might want to consider booking a larger place for your desert adventures. Below are a few Airbnbs in the nearby town of Hanksville, which is approximately 35 minutes from the state park.
| Spacious Home in Hanksville: this large home sleeps 16 and comes with massive windows with stunning views of the surrounding desert (including the San Rafael Swell), Wi-Fi and a large modern kitchen. Book your stay here.
| Red Rock Cave Home: this incredibly unique spot - it is literally inside a cave - can play host to 10 people. It was recently remodeled and now has a very cozy and desert-y vibe (including a large wrap-around porch). Book your stay here.