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Goblin Valley State Park

The park contains thousands of mushroom-shaped goblins. You can walk amongst the hoo-doos in Goblin Valley, there are hiking trails and a cave on the back side of the valley called the Goblin’s Lair

The sun sets behind the hoodoos of Goblin Valley State Park in Utah
Goblin Valley State Park contains thousands of mushroom-shaped red rock (goblins) also called hoodoos. Cowboys searching for lost cattle first discovered Goblin Valley.
In the late 1920s, Arthur Chaffin, owner/operator of the Hite Ferry, was searching for an alternative route between Green River and Cainsville. They came to a vantage point about a mile west and were awed by the view of five buttes and a valley of strange-shaped rock formations surrounded by a wall of eroded cliffs. He called it Mushroom Valley and finally returned in 1949 to explore the area further. The state of Utah later acquired the property and it was designated a state park in 1964.
The area was once covered by ancient seas, the rock formations are the result of alternating hard and soft layers of sandstone, mudstone and siltstone. Once the water receded the area was worked by water and wind with the softer rock eroding faster than the harder layers, leaving behind the hoodoos we enjoy today.
Getting there
  • 1.5 hours from Moab, the road to Goblin Valley State Park is paved the entire distance and is accessible year-round to all vehicles.
  • West of the town of Green River: Follow I-70 west for 11 miles to Exit #149 and take Highway 24 south 24 miles to mile maker 136 and the signed turn-off to Goblin Valley State Park located on the west side of the road.
A beautiful sky above the road into the park entrance
38.5643783N, 110.7034986W 
The parking lot is called Goblin Overlook
$20 per car
  • Can be combined with nearby Horse Shoe Canyon
  • Dogs allowed on leash
  • Wander freely among the interesting rocks
Photo Notes
  • Early morning and late afternoon offer the best light to bring out the colors and shapes of the goblin
  • Drone use is by permit only. Permits may be obtained at the visitor center for a fee of $10.00.
1-2 miles total, it depends on your exploration of the area
A fiery sky just after sunset in Goblin Valley Utah

Graphic showing how the hoodoos or goblins were formed over time

How the Goblins formed
The area is divided into 3 valleys or basins.
  • Valley 1 is the closest to the parking area and where the vast majority of visitors will spend their time and is the basin with the greatest collection of goblins.
  • Valley 2 sits behind and south of Valley 1
  • Valley 3 extends quite far south of Valley 1 and the parking lot.

Topo map for Goblin Valley State Park




Curtis Bench Valley of the Goblins Spur to Observation point

1.8 miles total out and back
The Curtis Bench Trail comes all the way over from the campground, however, unless you are camping there, there is little reason to take it from there. Instead, follow a backward route from the Parking lot to the overlook.

Curtis Bench Valley hiking trail Map


Valley of Goblins (Valley 1) Off-Trail

1-2 miles depends on how much you explore
There is no official trail here. You just choose a direction and go, you have the freedom to choose how you wander between the goblins, climbing over and around them.

Valley of Goblins (Valley 1) map


Goblin’s Lair Trail 

2.75 miles round trip loop
  • There are two ways into the Goblin’s Lair, rappelling through the ceiling or via the hiker’s rock scrambling entrance ( 38.561381, -110.695231 )(this would be the exit if you rappelled in). Most people visit via the hiker’s rock scramble entrance via the Carmel Canyon loop/Goblin’s Trail route.
  • Permit Required to rappel the entrance through the ceiling
  • Download your backcountry permit here to rappel into Goblin’s Lair. Permits are $2/person (up to eight people in a group) in addition to the park entrance fee. Simply print the form, fill out the top half, and present it to a ranger upon arrival at Goblin Valley State Park.

Graphic of the Goblin's Lair cave

From the parking lot take the Carmel Canyon Loop Trail. This beginning of the trail will give you sweeping vistas of the Carmel goblin formation, the Molly’s Castle outcrop, the Three Sisters, and on clear days, even the La Sal Mountains far to the east. 

View from the Carmel Canyon Loop Trail.Valley view on the Carmel Canyon Loop Trail.Desert view hiking in Goblin Valley State Park

At the junction of the Carmel Canyon Trail and the Goblin’s Lair Trail turn to the right to follow the Goblin’s Lair trail. The Carmel Canyon Trail to the left does contain a short section of colorful narrows to explore as a side trip. 

junction of the Carmel Canyon Trail and the Goblin's Lair Trail

Continue on east and then south on the Goblin’s Lair Trail…

Back side of rocks

Shortly you come to a junction, the Goblin’s Lair will be straight ahead and to the right, to the left is a short out-and-back trail to the Goblette’s Lair (a smaller version of the Goblin’s Lair). 

A sign points the way to the Goblette's Lair

The entrance to the Goblin's Lair

The entrance to the Goblin’s Lair
A vertical scramble up some boulders takes you to the entrance of the Goblin’s Lair.

Taking a break outside the entrance to the Goblin's Lair

The Goblin’s Lair is actually a 70-foot deep natural sandstone cave/slot canyon the entrance has been sealed by rock fall. This rock fall is what you have to scramble/climb down into the Goblin’s Lair. It’s not that difficult, just be careful in a few spots. 

Climbing down the rockfall inside the Goblin's Lair

Once inside you can head to the back wall and look straight up at the rappelling entrance in the ceiling.

the rappelling entrance in the ceiling

When done, scramble back up to the hiker’s entrance and you can follow the 1/4 mile trail to the Goblette’s Lair

Graphic pointing to the entrance to the Goblette's Lair. 

The Gobblette’s Lair is a smaller version, and doesn’t require much scrambling to get inside it.

The Gobblette's Lair is a smaller version

After visiting both Lairs, head back the way you came, you can explore the Carmel Canyon Trail before you head back to the parking lot or down into the valley of the Goblins.

Carmel Formation and Molly's castle at sunset

Carmel Formation  and Molly’s castle in the far background

A sunset view of the icons of the Goblin Valley State Park - The Three Sisters rock formation

The Three Sisters – an iconic formation that you can see from the road between the campground and the parking lot, a short trail can take you out to it

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Goblin Valley State Park Utah

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The park contains thousands of mushroom-shaped (goblins). You can walk amongst the hoo-doos, there are hiking trails and a cave on the back side of the valley called the Goblin’s Lair

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