On the edge of the San Rafael Swell, remote Goblin Valley State Park offers some of the most bizarre scenery in the Utah desert. The first impression is a
valley full of stone mushrooms (photo, left). Wind and water have carved
fantastic and unique goblin-like sculptures out of rock, creating an outdoor playground that inspires the
imagination. Numerous rocks and coves offer unlimited walking, exploring, or hiking opportunities.
Goblin Valley is located in Utah's Castle Country near the town of Green River and about mid-way between the Moab area (Canyonands and Arches National Parks) and Capitol Reef National Park, making it a convenient stop for tourists. The facilities and easy terrain make it a fun place for children.
Goblin Valley State Park Trails
The Carmel Canyon Trail cuts through Goblin Valley but the flat open terrain makes it easy to walk anywhere.
A second trail leaves the east end of the parking lot, skirting the valley for a few miles. You eventually
reach the eroded cliffs which form the backdrop of Goblin Valley. The view of these cliffs from behind
also make for fantastic scenery (photo, below). There may also be views of the Henry Mountains to the south,
which are often snow-covered in the spring.
San Rafael Swell and Slot Canyons
Goblin Valley State Park is located on the southern edge of the San Rafael Swell, an uplifted area of land - essentially a dome - noted for a variety of geological oddities. Besides Goblin Valley, the area features numerous sandstone canyons and a fascinating network of highly exotic, sandstone slot canyons. The most well known are Little Wild Horse and Bell Canyons which can be hiked as a loop with a day hike. The trailhead is about 5 miles down a dirt road from Goblin Valley. The narrows in these canyons are long and tight, in several places only
shoulder width. There is a parking area and outhouse at the trailhead, but no water. But avoid this hike
if rain threatens. Flash flood danger is extreme in slot canyons when there is rain anywhere in the drainage!
Goblin Valley History
The secluded Goblin Valley was first discovered by cowboys hunting for their cattle and explored by local ferry
operator, Arthur Chaffin, from the 1920's. At that time, he called the place "Mushroom Valley". The area
was documented and popularized in the late '40s and early '50s, becoming a state park in 1964.
This unearthly-looking place was also used to represent an alien world in a 1999 movie, the sci-fi spoof,
Visiting Goblin Valley and Southern Utah
Goblin Valley offers a small campground as well as a fairly new pavillion area featuring modern bathrooms,
picnic tables and a play area. This makes the park quite popular for families with younger kids.
The deserts and canyons of southern Utah are renowned for beautiful and surreal scenes cut into sandstone
by eons of wind and rain. World famous are the arches of Arches National Park,
the colorful spires of Bryce Canyon,
the fantastic canyons of Zion National Park, or
Rainbow Bridge, the largest natural bridge in the world.
Complete details may be found in our Southern Utah Travel Guide or Canyonlands - Four Corners Travel Guide.