Goblin Valley State Park
Updated: May 7, 2022
Here is why we enjoyed Goblin Valley State Park
Little Wild Horse Slot Canyon
Goblins (sandstone structures by the thousands) that look to be out of this world
Nice place to stretch your legs between Arches/Canyonlands and Capitol Reef
Park staff were very friendly and helpful
Goblin Valley State Park was a quick stop for us to see a slot canyon. Thankfully, we made this stop because their was a wildfire near Buckskin Gulch and we were unable to take that hike. Goblin Valley for us was on the way from Moab to Torrey Utah or Arches/Canyonlands to Capitol Reef. There is a campground at Goblin Valley if you wish to spend the night and spend more time hiking and viewing the goblins.
Our goal here was to hike a slot canyon. Goblin Valley was a bonus. We arrived at the visitor's center on a really hot day for us and walked inside. Its a small visitor's center attached to the gatehouse for day passes. There are the normal touristy stuff and snacks and drinks. We were very happy with the service from the park attendants and they gave us good instructions on how to get to Little Wild Horse Canyon and Goblin Valley. Dogs aren't advised in the slot canyon. So, we left the generator on, air conditioners on, and unhooked the truck for the short drive to Little Wild Horse Canyon. It is about a 6 mile drive from the visitor's center to the trailhead. Our tow vehicle was necessary as our motorhome would not have made the trip. The trailhead parking lot is small and there are many ditches in the road to allow water to pass during flash floods.
Little Wild Horse Canyon is an easy canyon with some rock climbing. We left the trailhead and started walking to the wash. Once in the was it started to get warm and we were prepared with our hydration packs filled with water, snacks, cooling towels and for our youngest her stuffed animals. This was our first big hike of the trip. We got about 100 meters in and my oldest started feeling knee pain. He tried his hikers out at home but when on the wash in the heat they didn't work for him. He's had this problem in the past so we have shoe inserts and other fixes. Unfortunately, all of that was 45 minutes away in the RV. Thankfully, I had a handful of dollar bills in my wallet and we used those to make an arch support to get him through the hike. The advantage of money over other materials is that it is stiff, water resistant and easy to fold and adjust with more or fewer bills. We didn't even have to go back to the truck!
15 minutes of stress and creativity later we continued on our way and towards Bell Canyon and the right turn into Little Wild Horse Canyon. The wash is about 1/2 mile long and mainly full sun. Make sure to put on plenty of sunscreen, wear hats and sunglasses. The canyon has areas of slot canyon and more open areas. the full loop is 8 miles long. we knew before we arrived at Goblin Valley that we would not hike the whole trail. The day was too hot and this was a travel day for us so we couldn't spend as much time as we may have otherwise spent in the canyon. If you are looking for slot canyons and you can handle moderate trails with decent elevation gains this is a good hike. Note that you will need to hike 1/2 -3/4 of a mile in and out in order to see the slot canyon part of the trail. Also, don't underestimate the trip back. We turned around at the right time. The marker in the trail is shown in the picture below where we were able to hike under this rock and take some pictures.
As you can see there are some significant boulders to climb over. Dogs are allowed on the trail and we did see one. However, there are points along the trail where you will need to lift and lower your dog to help them through the trail. On our way out of the canyon we were constantly looking for shade and ways to stay as cool as possible. The heat was oppressive. the last 1/2 mile, in the wash, was difficult. There was no heat, our kids were exhausted, and the terrain is stone and rock. When we reached the truck we turned on the air conditioning full and packed it up and headed back to the RV. We checked on the dogs briefly and then drove to Goblin Valley.
The drive to the valley provided good views of goblins that help build the anticipation of what awaits at the valley. The goblins are sandstone structures that are big and round and there are thousands in the valley. When you visit walk down into the valley and walk among the goblins to see how big they actually are. It would be fun to play hide and seek in the valley and we did enjoy running around and playing. The pictures really describe the valley best and we are privileged to have the memory. We were fortunate enough to see prong horn cross the raod while we were at the park, too. Again, Goblin Valley was a quick stop due to the heat and this being a travel day. So, we drove back to the gate house, hooked up the truck to the motorhome, and continued on our way to Capitol Reef. It was nice to have the comfort of the RV and good air conditioning to recover from our excursion.
The experience is worth it as you can see by the photos. There isn't a whole lot to journal except exciting, fantastic, amazing and other adjectives. We found Goblin Valley in this book:
A Complete Guide to the Grand Circle National Parks
We recommend for anyone traveling to Utah to see the National Parks and surrounding areas. Click the title (affiliate link) to find the book on Amazon. If not for this book we may not have stopped at Goblin Valley. We're so happy we did.