Goblin Valley State Park
This page presents our personal notes on hiking and camping within Goblin Valley State Park in Utah.
We've been to Goblin Valley State park on two occasions. Once for a quick recon visit, and once to spend a couple of days camping and hiking. This record is from our second, most recent visit.
We just entered Goblin Valley State Park. It's a clear day with no clouds, at 67 degrees. The road into the park is now paved with asphalt all the way. The first time we were here it was still gravel.
We had reserved site 24, which is right near the entrance to the campground. The site is a bit away from the nearest site, which is good, but is at a junction in the road, so there is a bit of traffic from time to time. There are a few kids in the campground, but not as many as we’ve seen at other campgrounds this past summer.
After we set up we drove to find the Visitor Center, but discovered that there really isn’t one. Not even a real ranger station. They use the small entrance station instead. They probably have some limited information, and they do sell Goblin Valley clothing, but we didn’t stop. So we made a quick drive through the parking area at the Goblin Valley Overlook, then stopped at the group site, which was unoccupied at the time, and filled our six gallon jug with water and used that to fill the fresh water tank in the trailer. Then we walked over to the sanitary dump, across from the restrooms, and filled up the six gallon jug again and poured that into the trailer as well.
There is a nice covered picnic table and fire pit at the site, and the road through the campground is freshly paved with asphalt, as is the driveway into each site. The driveways are, for the most part, nice and wide and level. We pulled out the awning on the trailer to keep the sun out of the interior. It was warm, but not really hot. There were a few gnats around, but they weren’t horrible.
There is a modern building housing the restrooms, with hot water and showers, an RV dump station, and a solid waste bin. Drinking water is available near several sites around the 24 site campground. The campground was full this night, including the group site. Mostly tent campers, but there were a couple of trailers and one or two other pop-ups. Half of the sites are along the east side of spectacular sandstone cliffs and spires, while the other half sit out a bit further in the desert.
For dinner we grilled burgers over a wood fire and then watched all of the stars come out.
We got up at 6:30 a.m. It is 48 degrees in trailer. The Sun is just glowing over the horizon. We realized last night that we’d forgotten our toothbrushes. So we had to use toothpaste on our fingers and do the best that we can. It seems like every trip we forget something. Usually minor.
After breakfast we headed off to hike the Horseshoe Canyon Unit of Canyonlands National Park, which is about twenty miles to the east of Goblin Valley.
We’re back at the campground from our hike. On the way in we drove down the main road, just before entering the park, to see where that road leads. It is asphalt as far as we went, and beyond. There is a large gravel parking area with two restrooms. It doesn’t look like there is any water there. There were several RVs and other campers camping there, plus a tent or two. The road leads on into the San Rafael Swell.
The clouds continued coming in. We had high winds and had to take the awning down. There were a few sprinkles, but mostly high winds, throughout the afternoon. We ate some lunch, then took showers. The women’s side shower was fine (although the single shower stall could have been a bit cleaner), but the men’s side only had very cold water. I managed the best I could, but came out feeling quite chilled. The door to the shower rooms does not lock, so you have to hope that no one comes in and interrupts you while you shower or are getting dressed.
In the evening we grilled chicken over charcoal in our little collapsible grill. We had to move it under the shelter because it started raining. Of course, after our meal was prepared, we only got a few sprinkles now and then. Wind was our biggest concern, and it really rattled the trailer.
We slept in, knowing that it would be cold, and we didn’t need to drive anywhere today. We had hot oatmeal for breakfast, then we got ready to hike along the Entrada Trail (from the campground) to the Goblin Valley. The skies are clear and the Sun is just coming up. The temp is 61 degrees outside, and it’s a little breezy and chilly.
We're getting ready to leave the trailer to hike up the Entrada Trail. The GPS Coordinates for our campsite are: 38 343.54N; 110 42.746W; at an approximate elevation of 5,037 feet.
The signed trail leaves the campground just south of site 24, near the entrance to the campground and the group site. The trail crosses a low desert area, then climbs briefly to the rolling hills above the campground, where it meets the service road which is also known as the Curtis Bench Trail. The Entrada Trail crosses the road and then continues down a narrow wash through the softly weathered formations. Most of the trail follows the bottom of the narrow wash for 1.5 miles until it comes out into the Goblin Valley.
We could see the Observation Point to our left, or the north, and there were swarms of kids and people in that area, so we headed south. It is an interesting area of toadstool like formations of various sizes. You can wander around and let your imagination run wild.
We reached as far south as we would go on this trip. It seems to be the southern end of what the park brochure calls Valley 1 and Valley 2. A third valley seems to be beyond this point. We will have to save it for another trip. The GPS Coordinates for this point are: 38 33.373N; 110 42.190W; at an approximate elevation of 4,899 feet.
From this point we headed east into the taller formations along the cliffs in that direction, and worked our way back along the east side toward the north. This is mostly easy walking, with some climbing and scrambling to get through from one wash to another. We would work our way up one wash, wondering at the natural sculptures around us, and if we couldn’t find an easy way through the head of the wash, we’d walk back down and then pick another wash to explore. A person could spend hours just wandering around gawking at the amazing formations.
The only problem at this time of the year is the low angle of the Sun. It was difficult to take some photos because the camera would be facing right into the Sun’s glare. Also, I have a fixed lens digital camera that has an auto focus feature. With all of the layers of depth in almost every direction many of the photos came out just a bit blurred. The poor computer on the camera wasn’t sure just where to focus. I guess I need to learn how to use the manual focus, and maybe get better shots in these types of situations. I’m sure, though, that I took hundreds of shots and many will come out just fine. The other issue is that so much of the landscape is the same, uniform color. Other than the shadows there was little contrast. A good photographer with good camera equipment and some patience will be able to capture some fantastic images.
We worked our way north and eventually connected with the Carmel Canyon Trail and walked to the Observation Point from the north. The Observation Point has a large parking area (which had many vehicles in it on this day) and has a paved, covered deck with several picnic tables and informational kiosks. It sits on a ledge overlooking Goblin Valley, so you can get a birds eye view of the toadstools and other features below.
There is also a pair of vault toilets near the parking area.
From there we located the sign for the Entrada Trail. But we weren’t sure where the trail led at this point. There weren’t a lot of footprints and they seemed to go all over. But we could see the wash that we thought we needed to get to, so we cut across the soft surface and found our old footprints and headed back to camp.
We’re back at the trailer. According to the GPS we hiked six miles round trip. That gives us 295.5 miles for the year.
We took a little walk around the campground to check out the other sites for future reference. All of the sites have an asphalt driveway, a covered shelter over a picnic table, and a large fire pit with an adjustable grill.
- There is a large, nice, mostly private group site with a large asphalt parking area. It has its own water spigot and a large covered area with several picnic tables.
- Site 1 would work for us, but it is not ideal. It’s a pull through and is exposed, sitting out in the desert.
- Site 2 has a long driveway and would work for trailer. It is a wide site, but maybe too close to bathroom. It does have a water spigot near it.
- Sites 3, 4, and 5 share a combined parking area and are for tent camping. You park and carry your equipment in to near the covered table and grill. They are along the cliff, though, and in a neat area.
- Site 6 is a walk in site along the cliffs.
- Site 7 would be okay for the trailer. It is level and close to bathrooms.
- Site 8 is a pull through site, close against rocks. But the trailer would be right along the road and that is never a desirable location when vehicles pass close by, especially at night.
- Site 9 is a large pull through site, but too close to the road.
- Sites 10, 11, and 12 are carry in sites for tents, again, and close to the cliffs.
- Site 13 is a trailer site that would be nice. It is against the rocks, with water just across the way.
- Sites 14, 15, and 16 are all nice back-in sites against the cliffs. They would get late afternoon shade. Site 16 is a large site with water nearby. Site 14 might be the best site in the campground.
- We missed 17 and 18 for some reason.
- Site 19 is a carry in site.
- Site 20 wouldn’t be too bad. It’s a flat spot.
- Site 21 is right along the main road, but has water nearby, and is not too far from the restrooms.
- Site 22 is near the restrooms and along the main road, but it has its own water spigot. It is for handicapped use because it has a raised tent platform.
- Site 23 is along the road, is suitable for the trailer, and is not too far from the restrooms and water. It is out in the desert.
- Site 24 is probably the most isolated spot, suitable for the trailer, a nice quiet spot, but it is close to the roads, and probably the farthest campsite from the restrooms and water, with the exception of the group site.
For dinner we grilled bratwurst over a wood fire. But it was so windy that we weren’t able to have a fire after that. Sparks were flying all over.
We got up about 6:45 a.m. The temp was 45 in the trailer this morning. The wind came and went a couple of times during the night. This morning, much to our surprise, there are clear skies. We were afraid that we’d have to take down the trailer in the rain.
We’re packed up and are ready to head on home. The skies are cloudy to partly cloudy, and it looks like maybe it could rain locally later in the day. Chilly; windy; 46 degrees outside, plus the wind chill.