Goblin Valley, a Grown Up Playground

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Goblin Valley State Park in Utah is the perfect side stop on a southwest US road trip.  It’s much less visited than the nearby national parks and can be visited in just a few hours on your way to other parks, like Capitol Reef or Lake Powell from Moab.  It’s my favorite state park in Utah so far because it’s such a fun place.

Opposite of how things usually are, I actually had heard of Goblin Valley before I got to Bullfrog.  Where or what it was though, was still a mystery to me.  A few weeks later, someone mentioned it to me and told me it was like a playground for adults with caves and climbing.  I had to go.

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A couple weeks after that, someone told me a group of people were going after work one day, and I happened to be working in the morning.  Sign me up!  That was that and the next thing I know we were on our way.  It’s about an hour and a half from Bullfrog, about 30 minutes from Green River.  If you’re in the area, I would highly recommend it, even just for a few hours.

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As soon as we got there and had all of our stuff ready (read: lots of water, but could have been more) it was time to explore.  From the parking lot, we went down the stairs and all eight of us ran off in different directions immediately.  We were in the Valley of the Goblins and climbing over everything.  The valley is full of these weird goblin-mushroom shaped rock formations in all shapes and sizes.  There aren’t really any official hiking trails in Goblin Valley, it’s more of a free for all around the valley and into the nooks and crannies.

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We split up and regrouped I don’t even know how many times in the valley alone.  The valley is surrounded by a huge wall basically made up of these formations, but staggered, making it super easy to climb up.  Like always though, make sure you can get back down before going all the way up.  Some of the tops of the goblins are perfect for sitting and hanging out in for a little bit to recharge for more running and climbing.

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This place really is like a giant playground.  Eventually, we set off for the goblin wall in search of caves.  Everybody loves a good cave, right?  Ok, maybe not everyone, but we all wanted one.  Unfortunately, we didn’t find any, but we also may have gotten distracted and ended up on top of the wall instead.  It’s hard to not want to climb up all the way.  The view over the valley and the flat desert on the other side is outstanding and totally worth the climb.

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We hung out at the top for a while and got split up one last time before leaving.  This time it was on the way down.  It’s crazy how different everywhere we went looked for being the same.  It was all impressive in its own way.  I would end up coming back a few months later, but more on that in another post.  This was a wonderful first experience and evening is a great time to go, or morning, because it isn’t quite as hot.  And bring lots of water.  Like, a lot.  And don’t forget your sense of adventure.

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Helpful Things:

  • Go in the morning or evening for more ideal weather, especially in the middle of the summer.  Plus, it’s a great place to watch the sunset.
  • Brings lots of water.  I needed more because it was so hot and we did a lot of climbing.
  • Bring snacks, the visitors center is the only close thing and they don’t have much of anything food wise.
  • Don’t be afraid to climb up and go in caves, just make sure you can get back down or out.
  • Take a little extra time to explore more of the San Rafael Swell.
  • An awesome hike nearby is Little Wild Horse Canyon.

Have you been to Goblin Valley?  What did you think of it?  Do you want to go?

Tips for visiting Goblin Valley State Park in UtahTips for visiting Goblin Valley State Park in Utah

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