My name is Hansi Kiessner and welcome to my article on Goblin Valley State Park. I am originally from Germany but currently live in Salt Lake City. I have loved traveling from a young age. Being from Europe means I was exposed to many different countries and cultures early on in life.
I even lived in Sweden for three months and shared an apartment with a photographer. His pictures inspired me to get into photography. Taking a trip to Trolltunga, Norway gave me the chance to capture my first “real” picture standing on the ledge. It was a beautiful moment and I haven’t been able to put the camera down since.
Visiting Goblin Valley State Park for the Fifth Time
I currently live in Salt Lake City which gives me the opportunity to travel all around the state of Utah. Most recently, I took a four day trip and went to Canyonlands National Park, Dead Horse Point State Park and Goblin Valley State Park. It’s awesome to have so many parks right on my doorstep.
I first found out about Goblin Valley State Park from friends in high school who had just visited. It was on my list for a while and when I visited for the first time the park blew me away! Now, I have visited five times. Goblin Valley has become a regular destination for me. I just love it so much!
First and foremost, the park is a wonderful place to explore. There aren’t many established trails and so you have this sense of discovery. In fact, that is the main attraction to me. This park is also my go-to location for Milky Way photography because the skies are so dark and the stars are so bright.
Favorite Place in the State Park – Goblin’s Lair
The one place I love most in Goblin Valley State Park is Goblin’s Lair. It’s a stunning cave that you can scramble down from a short hiking trail. The cave has awesome acoustics and is a very calming place to be inside of. Some people use climbing gear to rappel from a hole in the top of the cave. However, that adventure is only for people who are not scared of heights!
5 Best Things To Do in Goblin Valley State Park
Goblin Valley State Park is a geological wonderland in Utah. It’s not as popular as other national parks or state parks in Utah (and with less established and marked trails) which gives you the chance to enjoy really unique experiences. From my five visits to the state park, here are my top five adventures/things to do:
- Hike the Trails and Go Exploring: Bring a compass or satellite GPS map and head off on an adventure. Some of the best trails include Carmel Canyon, Entrada Canyon, Curtis Bench Trail and Three Sisters.
- Visit the Highlight of the Park, Goblin’s Lair: The full return hike to Goblin’s Lair is around 3 miles and to be honest it’s not the easiest hike in the world. However, the reward is seeing this massive cavernous rock formation and slot canyon. When light seeps through the ceiling vents from over 100 feet above, you are rewarded with a natural treat.
- Go Stargazing in the State Park: Experts have concluded that Goblin Valley has one of the darkest night skies on earth! This makes it a dream destination for stargazing. The views of the Milky Way will take your breath away. You can even join moonlight hikes and telescope tours at the park which will take your stargazing experience to the next level.
- Watch the Sunrise at the Three Kings: The Three Kings is the best spot in the state park to watch the sunrise, especially for photography lovers. Three uniquely shaped sandstone rock formations rise out from a larger rock base, creating a scene which resembles three kings.
- Stay Late for the Sunset: Sunsets in Goblin Valley State Park are some of the most beautiful and unique in Utah! Oftentimes, dark clouds loom over the rocks as the sky transforms into pink and purple colors.
Where to Stay at Goblin Valley State Park
When I visit Goblin Valley State Park I go camping at a free dispersed camping site called the Temple Mountain Campground. There is also free camping available within the park but I have not checked out those places yet. They also have yurts to stay in for larger groups and families.
Need to Know Before you Go
Make sure you bring your own food and water to Goblin Valley as obviously there are no stores in the area. Be sure to fill up or fully recharge your car before heading into the park. It’s a very remote area! Don’t push yourself too far out of your comfort zone – some of the longer trails should only be tried by fit and experienced hikers. Apart from that, just explore and enjoy.
I would like to leave you with my favorite memory of Goblin Valley. It was when I hiked to the top of a plateau on the far side of the park with my friend Rob. We overlooked the entire park and then experienced an amazing sunset. It was the type of beauty that kept you in the moment. The colors were incredible and I took some of my best pictures ever!