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    Visit Goblin Valley: walking among the hoodoos in the Utah desert

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    Joel Fulleda

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    If the unprecedented and surreal landscape of Bryce Canyon has remained in your heart with its hoodos - the red pinnacles that look like imposing natural towers - why not consider the idea of visit Goblin Valley, one of the most secret parks in Utah, a stone's throw from Canyonlands and Capitol Reef?

    It is, in fact, a sort of "younger brother" of the Bryce, discovered in 1920 by some herdsmen who were looking for an alternative route between Caineville e Green River, city ​​that serves as a reference point for visitors even today, as we will see.

    Almost thirty years later, one of the herdsmen, Arthur Chaffin, returned to visit Goblin Valley, to conduct a series of explorations in search of the most fascinating hoodoos of this area: because of the fungal structure of these rocks, Chaffin initially called this area “Mushroom Valley”. In 1964, after some vandalism against the rocky goblins, the state of Utah acquired the park and placed it under conservation.

    So all that remains is to answer the most frequently asked questions: how to visit Goblin Valley? How to reach it? What are the things to be most aware of? But let's go in order.


    • How to get to Goblin Valley: driving directions
    • Visit Goblin Valley: itineraries on foot
      • For those with limited time… the Valley of the Goblins
      • Entrada Canyon Trail
      • Carmel Canyon Trail
      • Curtis Bench Trail
      • Three Sisters Trail
    • Visit Goblin Valley: info and curiosities
      • Opening hours and prices
      • General info ...
      • … And curiosity!
    • Where to sleep in Goblin Valley?

    How to get to Goblin Valley: driving directions

    The main point of reference for those who want to visit Goblin Valley is the city of Green River, located 50 miles north of the park entrance. From here, continue on I-70 westbound for about ten kilometers, then turn south on UT-24 and follow it for 24km. Turn onto Temple Mt Road and then onto Goblin Valley Road.

    If you're coming from the south instead, you'll find Goblin Valley 30 miles north of the funny town of Hanksville, always along a truly surreal stretch of the beautiful UT-24 scenic road. This itinerary could be interesting for those coming from Capitol Reef, which is 109 miles away: it could be the opportunity to see two very close but completely different natural landscapes.

    Attention! If you use the Google Maps navigator, you might be a little confused. My experience says that, coming from the south, the navigator instructed to turn here to reach the park. A secondary road that actually leads into the Goblin Valley but which is closed to traffic. The point where you have to turn is instead this, towards Temple Mt Road.

    Visit Goblin Valley: itineraries on foot

    What can one expect from this mysterious and underrated corner of Utah? First of all it is good to know that we are in the desert: very high temperatures in summer, variable weather in autumn and spring, cold temperatures and occasional snowfall in winter.

    This is not a "normal" desert, because, scattered throughout the park, you will find myriads of rocks of "Entrada sandstone”, red and squat, in the shape of goblins, but also massive natural monuments with the most evocative and grandiose shapes, such as Molly’s Castle (which imposes itself from a considerable distance) and the Three Sisters (the latter visible closely along the road leading to the valley) which testify to an ancient and creative geological history.

    In order to better observe these bizarre rock statues, various itineraries can be followed on foot. Here they are in detail:

    For those with limited time… the Valley of the Goblins

    The fastest and most direct way, as well as the one recommended to get in touch with the geology of the park, is to reach directly the real valley and wander around aimlessly tra i goblin e le balanced rock.

    As you can see in the map of this useful brochure, the valley is divided into 3 zones: Valley 1, Valley 2 and Valley 3. By parking your car here, you just need to go below the parking level and you will find yourself directly in the Valley 1, which already collects an infinity of rock formations to explore with curiosity. Children will have a great time, with minimal effort. And adults too ...

    If you want to reach the other 2 zones, you will have to continue walking from the viewpoint to the south, taking into account that travel times are getting longer and that there are no marked paths, but only one large maze of goblins at more or less dense or high levels. The Valley 2 it can also be reached via the path named The Goblin’s Lair, for which a permit is required: the path is extremely complicated especially in the final part, which takes place in a cave / canyon in which you have to descend.

    Entrada Canyon Trail

    • Length: 2.9 km
    • Difficulty: simple

    This itinerary is perhaps the simplest of the alternatives to the simple walk among the goblins. It will take you from the campsite (located just below the imposing Wild Horse Butte) up to the goblins, along a fascinating path, among the meanders of the canyon, in search of the most curious rocks, which can appear around every curve, or above every ridge.

    Carmel Canyon Trail

    • Length: 1.9 km
    • Difficulty: simple / medium

    This relatively short and simple circular path will give you the opportunity to observe one of the most famous natural monuments in the park, Molly’s Castle, a massif that really resembles a mighty manor.

    To get to this point, it will be necessary to take a small detour from the main circuit, but it is a well signposted path. Most visitors walk the main path to the crossroads for Molly's Castle and then turn back, without finishing the loop. If, on the other hand, you decide to continue, you will have the opportunity to enter one of the slot canyons typical of this area. If you get lost, look for the rocks marked with blue paint. The start of the trail is at the northeastern edge of the Goblin Valley Parking Area.

    Curtis Bench Trail

    • Length: 3.2 km
    • Difficulty: medium

    This area of ​​the park offers visitors the spectacle of the Curtis formation, which is a geological stage of the rock following the Entrada sandstone. The path, slightly more demanding than the previous one, will take you to some memorable points of view, from which you will be able to contemplate not only the natural amphitheater where goblins gather, the Wild Horse Butte and the Henry Mountains. The trail is found after paying admission, at the fork between Goblin Valley and campgrounds.

    Three Sisters Trail

    As I mentioned, the iconic ones Three Sisters they can be seen in the short stretch of road between the park entrance and the main car park. Almost all visitors are content to see the sisters from afar, stopping at the side of the road and taking a picture, but there are those who leave the car in the nearest open space and approach on foot. There is no real path, but the terrain is flat and, even if you are very careful, it is not difficult to arrive at your destination.

    A canyon (or rather two) around the park If you'd like to explore two of Utah's most undiscovered slot canyons in one fell swoop, know that they are truly a stone's throw from Goblin Valley!

    Once you leave the park, instead of immediately returning to the UT-24, leaving behind the booth where you pay for the entrance, take the first left and drive for about 8 km to the entrance of the Little Wild Horse Canyon and Bell Canyon. Do you want to know more about travel times and the type of excursion that awaits you? Read our in-depth analysis here.

    Visit Goblin Valley: info and curiosities

    Now that you have a clear idea of ​​what to do in Goblin Valley, you are just missing some useful information and, why not, a curiosity that can tempt you to visit this park.

    Opening hours and prices

    Goblin Valley Park State is open year-round from 6am to 22pm. Tickets cost $ 15 per car.

    General info ...

    The park organization recommends paying particular attention during excursions, both because of the climate (bring plenty of water), and because of the wild nature of the area: it is therefore advisable to stay on the marked trails and contact the Visitor Center rangers for any eventuality. It should be emphasized that the park has been subject to vandalism in the past, which is why the controls are very fiscal in this respect. Any other info is available on the park's official website.

    … And curiosity!

    Don't you also think that Goblin Valley is a perfect setting for cinema? Well, you are not the first to think it, because among the rocky goblins of the valley, among many, it was shot Galaxy Quest, a parody of science fiction TV series.

    Where to sleep in Goblin Valley?

    In the valley, as already mentioned, there is a campground, overlooking Wild Horse Butte. The cost is $ 23 ($ 11 for extra vehicles). Also available are home, typical bungalows of Mongolia, which rise between the pinnacles and the heads of goblins, but they cost more.

    If you want to sleep in a normal hotel, you can go back to Green River or one of the towns heading south (the largest is Torrey).

    Find a hotel in Green River

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