Goblin Valley State Park is easily one of the coolest places to visit in Utah. The crazy rock formations look like they were built from the ground up, but were actually the leftovers from erosion. These weird rock formations look like someone stacked rocks up all over the valley. What makes Goblin Valley so cool is that it truly looks like you have stepped onto an alien planet. They even filmed the famous Tim Allen movie “Galaxy Quest” here because it made for the perfect alien planet set! While you are spending your time visiting this awesome Utah state park, there are so many hikes that you can do as well! This is the ultimate list of Goblin Valley State Park hikes that you should consider doing on your trip to Utah.
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What is Goblin Valley State Park
Goblin Valley State Park is one of Utah’s lesser-known gems. It is located in Hanksville, Utah, and is the perfect stop between Arches National Park and Capitol Reef National Park. Goblin Valley is famous for its awesome rock formations that look like mushrooms. In fact, it was originally named “Mushroom Valley” by the man who found it! Goblin Valley is the perfect place to spend a day or two camping, exploring, hiking, and stargazing. In fact, it is located in an International Dark Sky Reserve which makes it one of the best places in the world to see the Milky Way! Goblin Valley is the perfect stop on any Utah Roadtrip.
The Best Goblin Valley State Park Hikes
There are so many amazing hikes in and around Goblin Valley State Park. Between the awesome rock formations, the desert scenery, and the slot canyons, there is truly a hike out there for everyone! Below I have listed the top 8 Goblin Valley State Park hikes for you and your family to enjoy.
1. Three Sisters
The Three Sisters trail is the most popular trail inside of Goblin Valley. It is a simple and flat 1-mile hike that will take you to the most famous rock formations in the valley. This hike is a must-do if you are visiting the park, and it is the best way to see the formations up close. This is also an awesome trail for kids to do as well.
It is important to note that this trail isn’t really well marked although you can follow the trail from a map from the visitors center. However, Goblin Valley State Park is really cool in that you can literally walk where you would like in the valley. This trail is a great starting point to go out and explore what the park has to offer!
2. Little Wild Horse Canyon
Little Wild Horse Canyon is my absolute favorite of the Goblin Valley State Park hikes because it is honestly such an amazing slot canyon. I’m a huge fan of the Utah slot canyons because you can’t really find them in many places in the world besides Utah. Slot canyons are thin canyons that have been created over time by rushing water. Just make sure to plan ahead and take every precaution as slot canyons are prone to deadly flash floods.
Little Wild Horse Canyon is located just outside of Goblin Valley State Park. It is an 8-mile loop which is mostly slot canyons. At one point it also connects with Bell Loop. If you don’t want to complete the entire 8 miles, then you can always do it as an “out and back” trail where you go as far as you would like into the canyon before turning around. Either way, I highly recommend doing this trail!
3. Valley of the Goblins
Valley of the Goblins is much like the Three Sisters trail in that it goes through the valley itself. This trail however isn’t really a trail at all! It is just an open exploration area inside the valley. Once you take the short descent into the valley, you can go and explore anywhere that you would like in the Valley of the Goblins.
4. Dark Side of the Moon Loop
The Dark Side of the Moon Loop is the perfect trail for those who want to add a little more distance to their hiking in Goblin Valley. This trail is a 4.3-mile loop that circles the valley itself. It was designed as a mountain bike trail, but it also makes for an awesome hiking trail that goes up to a viewpoint where you can overlook the valley (with minimal elevation gain!). This trail is not a difficult trail, but it is completely worth it!
5. The Goblin’s Lair
The Goblin’s Lair is another slot canyon hike located on the east side of Goblin Valley. This is easily one of the best Goblin Valley State Park hikes because it includes the crazy rock formations of the valley and an awesome slot canyon as well! This 2.3-mile hike is an out-and-back hike that is dog friendly. If you don’t bring your pet friend though, you can actually sign up at the visitor center (and pay a $2 fee) to use the rappel lines and actually rappel deeper into the canyon for an even crazier adventure! This is one hike that you don’t want to miss!
Read More: 7 Important Tips for Hiking With Your Dog
6. Entrada Canyon
Entrada Canyon is actually located just outside of Goblin Valley State Park. This trail is a 1.8-mile out and back trail that takes you through a wash and a canyon. It is important to note that this trail is pretty narrow so at points it can be a little bit difficult to maneuver. It is recommended to start from the campground side instead of the Goblin Valley side since it is supposedly easier to follow from that direction!
7. Curtis Bench
The Curtis Bench trail is a 2-mile out and back hike that is located inside of the park. It is ranked as one of the best Goblin Valley State Park hikes because you get a nice overlook of the valley and of the nearby Henry Mountains. This hike is dog-friendly and also a really awesome trail to hike at night. Because the Milky Way is easily visible from Goblin Valley, hiking at night means that you get to see the Milky Way during your hike as long as the night is clear! This hike is rated as relatively easy and dog-friendly as well!
8. Carmel Canyon Loop
The last hike on this list is the Carmel Canyon Loop Trail. This trail is only 1.5-miles and is rated as moderately strenuous. You can also tack on a hike to Molly’s Castle overlook from here as well. This little trail includes a slot canyon that sometimes requires a bit of scrambling to get through, but that is part of the adventure! A lot of people like to combine this trail with other trails like the Goblin’s Lair. It is also important to note that this is not a well-marked trail, but still definitely worth hiking!
If you enjoy hiking in Utah and are planning on heading north to the Salt Lake City area, be sure to check out this Epic and Easy Hike: Salt Lake City, Utah!
Things to Know Before You Go
- There is a $20 per car entrance fee
- There is no food available for purchase so bring your own
- Drones require a permit which can be purchased for $10 at the visitors center
- There are yurts that you can book in advance to spend the night at or you can camp on the BLM land nearby (Check out this Wild Camping Essentials List first if you plan on free camping on the BLM land).