Goblin Valley State Park, UT | A Nature-Made Playground

Dare I say I’ve lived in Utah for almost 4 years and never visited Goblin Valley? Until last weekend this was true!

Goblin Valley, a secluded valley in central Utah, is filled with hundreds of unique sandstone formations known as Hoodoos. These Hoodoos take many forms, most looking like overgrown mushrooms, nobs and spires.

Descending into Goblin Vally SP

The most unique aspect of Goblin Valley is the “run anywhere” form of the park. I expected to arrive, be ushered on to a designated trail and told to keep my hands off everything. Sometimes the “take only pictures, leave only footprints” rule is a bit of a bummer for families.

And while I agree with the principle of respecting natural habitats, I also love letting my kids experience nature first hand through all their senses. Goblin Valley is a hands on park. A hands, feet, and bodies on sort of place – which also makes it a fantastic place for kids!

Climbing Hoodoos Goblin Valley playground

I like to call this a nature-made playground. Run, climb, scurry, and jump all you like. Just don’t topple the Hoodoos… or you’ll find yourself in a mess of disgrace.

There is camping in the park, but we chose to go the free route and hit up the immense amount of BLM land just minutes outside the park. You can snatch some amazing sites along the road to Little Wild Horse Canyon Trailhead. If you are headed there on a fall weekend, expect to join many others looking for sites. We arrived on a Thursday night and were thankful for friends who got there early Thursday to get a great site.

Campfires on BLM land, southern Utah

Campfire reflections at our campsite on BLM land near Goblin Valley, UT

Tip Jar:

  1. Dress in bright colors (red, blue, lime green) as you can quickly lose the group and/or your kids. Stick close, stay visible. And make sure to explain to the kids a “plan” should they get lost. We went with meeting at the parking lot, as it is visible over the valley from most locations.
  2. Fall and Spring are the best times of year to visit. IMG_2198
  3. There is little shade, so bring lots of water, appropriate layers, and sunscreen.
  4. Don’t underestimate how dry it is here!
  5. There is a fabulous picnic pavilion at the parking lot overlooking the valley. It is perfect for cooking dinner while watching the sunset. Trust me and do it! Overlooking Goblin Valley at sunset

Redtape/Fees/Camping:

  • Park hours: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Day-use fee: $8; $4 Utah seniors 62 and older
  • Camping fees:
  • Main Campground: $18  ($8 extra vehicle fee); $20 March – June/ September – November
  • Yurts: $60; $65 March – June/ September – November
  • Group Overnight Camping:
  • Group Campground: $3 per person (25 person min – 35 max – 8 vehicles or 4 RVs max) IMG_2296
5 comments on “Goblin Valley State Park, UT | A Nature-Made Playground
  1. We love this park!!! thank you for the heads up on the BLM free camping. We are still getting our “camp legs” so we were a bit freaked out by the loneliness of this landscape. We saw lots of RVs camping away from the park and wondered if that was “allowed” especially since there are so many “private- no trespassing” signs everywhere. Good to know I just need to head out early.

  2. You know, the camping fees are pretty cheap in the State Park and your fees go to help to keep the park open, clean and safe–not to mention help with conserving this amazing place.

    • I completely agree! We buy state and national parks passes and donate every year to help preserve our lands. Goblin is tricky due to the small campground and high number of visitors. BLM camping allows those of us that aren’t so good at making reservations months in advance to still go. And we do pay the fees still to access the parks.

  3. We are going this weekend and wondering if we should bring our mountain bikes. We’d need to buy a bike rack to haul the bikes with our sedan….and so I’m just wondering if it’s worth it to hassle with bringing the bikes. I have a teen and a 6 year old who would be biking with me. Thoughts?

    • We didn’t bring bikes to the Goblin Valley area and I am not sure there are many trails or areas for them. Personally I’d skip them unless headed to the Moab area and you have a pretty decent 6 -yr old trails. But this is just my opinion!Dead Horse Point has some great family friendly bike trails – single track though.

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