Staying in Capitol Reef National Park hotels means enjoying easy access to the national park. But while you’ll definitely want to explore Capitol Reef, if you have time, there are plenty of other national and state parks that make for great day trips during your visit.
Located around an hour and a half from Cougar Ridge, Goblin Valley State Park is one such day trip. This stunning park is unlike any you’ll find elsewhere in Southern Utah or any other place in the world. Its name comes from the oversized, other-worldly rock formations scattered across the red rock landscape.
Where is Goblin Valley State Park?
Goblin Valley State Park is located to the East of Capitol Reef National Park. The drive itself is a great chance to enjoy some scenery, as you’ll drive through the Northern part of Capitol Reef before continuing on through some stunning landscapes, with towering rock formations and wide expanses of red rock desert.
Things to Do at Goblin Valley State Park
A drive through Goblin Valley State Park is a great chance to experience some unique and stunning views. But there is also plenty more to do during your visit to the park.
See the Famous Goblins
The landscape of Goblin Valley State Park is often compared to the surface of Mars. Whether you have an interest in geology or not, you’ll certainly want to take some time to explore the park’s famous rock formations, often referred to as “goblins.” These are a mix of hoodoos, which resemble stacks of rocks that reveal layer after layer of ancient rocks and soil, as well as other sandstone formations, some of which look like something out of this world.
These formations are concentrated in a three-square-mile valley, aptly named The Valley of Goblins. You won’t find marked hiking trails here. Instead, the valley is a free-roaming area that you can explore as you please.
Unlike Capitol Reef or many other state parks in Southern Utah, Goblin Valley has only a small number of marked hiking trails. But these trails are a great chance to see more of the park’s stunning scenery up close.
The park’s five marked trails include:
- The Goblin’s Lair: A 1.5-mile one-way trail with strenuous climbs. This trail leads to a beautiful slot canyon, called “the Lair.” The canyon entrance is blocked by a rock fall, which means that the slot canyon is now only accessible by rappelling in. You’ll need to bring your own gear, and get a permit at the Visitor Center.
- The Carmel Canyon Loop: This is a moderate 1.5-mile roundtrip hike that offers stunning views of several of the park’s most popular formations, including Molly’s Castle and Carmel goblin.
- Entrada Canyon: A 1.5-mile one-way trail ranked moderate. This trail passes several goblin formations.
- Curtis Bench Trail: This is a great hike for families or those looking for an easier hike. It is 1.5-miles one-way, and runs parallel to the Entrada Canyon Trail, only at a higher elevation. This elevation means that you’ll enjoy stunning views of the Valley of Goblins and of the Henry Mountains.
- Three Sisters: This very short, easy trail is just 250 yards one-way. But it leads to perhaps the most iconic rock formation in the park; Three Sisters.
Like Capitol Reef, Goblin Valley State Park is certified as an International Dark Sky Park. This makes it a great place to enjoy some stargazing.
There are as many marked mountain biking trails in the park as there are hiking trails in Goblin Valley. A 7-mile system of interconnected trails, called the Wild Horse Trail System, is a playground for mountain bikers.
If you have the gear and experience, Goblin Valley is also a destination for canyoneering. There are also several tour companies that offer canyoneering trips into the park for beginners and experienced explorers.
Choosing the Best Capitol Reef National Park Hotels
Whether you’re looking to spend your time exploring Capitol Reef or want to enjoy a day trip or two, Torrey, Utah makes for a great basecamp. And when it comes to choosing the best Capitol Reef National Park hotels, Cougar Ridge can’t be beat.
Located just a 10-minute drive from the entrance to Capitol Reef, our resort is perfect for exploring the park, or for making day trips to Goblin Valley, Lake Powell, Zion National Park, and other outdoor destinations. From private rodeos to Bonfire Parties to visiting with our resident animals or getting a taste of life on a working ranch, there’s also plenty to enjoy on-site.
Ready to start planning your next stay at one of the best Southern Utah hotels? Right now, when you book a visit of 3 nights or longer, you’ll get 15 percent off your entire stay! Book today to take advantage of this great deal on your next visit.