Located about an hour and a half from Cougar Ridge, Goblin Valley State Park is one of Utah’s best-hidden gems. This beautiful state park features red rock landscapes and formations that rival the state’s popular national parks, as well as fewer crowds and more opportunities to enjoy some quiet, beautiful nature.
If you’re looking to get off the beaten path during your next visit to Cougar Ridge or want an alternative hiking destination to visit besides Capitol Reef National Park, keep reading. We’re bringing you the ultimate guide to Goblin Valley State Park.
History of Goblin Valley State Park
If the name “Goblin Valley” sounds otherworldly, then you won’t be surprised to learn that the park is home to some bizarre and alien-looking rock formations. Towering hoodoos shaped more like mushrooms than the stacked formations you’ll find in Bryce Canyon tower above stark, rocky landscapes. These formations are what inspired the park’s name.
Early cowboys may have first discovered these unique formations. But it wasn’t until the 1920s when a man by the name of Arthur Chaffin, who was working on finding an alternate travel route through the area, documented his find.
In 1949, he returned to the area, which he then called Mushroom Valley. He explored the valley and documented his visit through a series of photographs. These were quickly discovered by the state of Utah, which declared the area a state park in 1964.
What to Know Before You Visit
To get to Goblin Valley State Park, you’ll head into Torrey, Utah, and hop on UT-24 W for nearly 70 miles. It is a state park, which means that you’ll need to pay an entrance fee.
A single private vehicle entrance will cost you $20. This entrance fee covers the driver and all riders in your vehicle. Motorcycles, bicycles, or individual pedestrians will pay $10. Utah residents over the age of 62 will also pay $10 to enter in a private vehicle.
There are very limited options for stores, restaurants, or other services near the park. For that reason, it’s a good idea to pack a lunch and snacks, as well as plenty of water for your visit.
During the summer months, the park regularly sees triple-digit temperatures. If you want to visit this time of year, plan to get your hiking in early or late in the day, and always pack more water than you think you’ll need.
Spring and fall offer far more pleasant temperatures. Even winter can be a great time to visit the park. While temperatures may dip below freezing, especially overnight, the valley only sees snowy winter weather on occasion.
Hiking in Goblin Valley State Park
Hiking is one of the best ways to experience Goblin Valley. If it is your first visit to the park, head to The Valley of Goblins first. This unique hiking area doesn’t feature any designated trails. Instead, it’s a free-roaming area that covers around 3 square miles. You can wander among the mushroom-shaped hoodoos and get some incredible views of the valley.
If you prefer an actual trail, The Goblin’s Lair is another great choice. This 2.5-mile round-trip trail offers a moderately difficult hike. You’ll get to see the massive formation known as The Goblin’s Lair.
Other Ways to Experience the Park
A scenic drive through the park is another great way to see Goblin Valley, especially during the hot summer months. If mountain biking is your thing, the Wild Horse Mountain Biking Trail System offers 5 loops in the park, some of which cover areas of the park that you otherwise wouldn’t get to see!
One big benefit of visiting Goblin Valley over Capitol Reef is the chance to bring your pet along for a hike. Goblin Valley State Park, unlike most national parks, allows dogs on hiking trails. Just remember that they must remain on a leash, and owners are responsible for cleaning up after them.
Goblin Valley is also home to a disc golf course. Located in a loop around the park’s campground, the course features 18-holes. It’s free to play, and if you’re visiting without your own discs, you can rent them for just $1 from the visitor center!
Finally, plan to stick around the park after dark to see some of the darkest skies in the whole region! On a clear night, you’ll enjoy stunning views of the milky way. Check at the visitors center during your visit to see if rangers are leading any moonlit hikes that night.
Planning a Visit to Goblin Valley State Park
If you’re looking to see a part of Southern Utah that many tourists overlook, plan a visit to Goblin Valley State Park. Located just a short drive away from Cougar Ridge, this park is a great addition to your next trip’s itinerary. Plan a day of hiking and sightseeing, or bring your bike along for a mountain biking adventure.
Ready to see the unique hoodoos of Goblin Valley? Book your next stay at Cougar Ridge today!