Goblin Valley is a popular state park in central Utah despite it being in a pretty isolated area. It’s on our atlas and fairly well known at this point, but it’s funny that we came to put this on our itinerary over the holidays when my dad had the movie Galaxy Quest on tv while we were over. John’s curiosity prompted him to look up whether it was filmed in a real place or not, and lo and behold, some of the filming took place in central Utah.
Goblin Valley State Park has a couple dozen dry campsites within the park, but as they are all reservable, they fill up fast and often. The good news is that there is a ton of BLM land in the area available for a scenic spot. We picked a spot right near the intersection of Temple Mountain Road and the spur road off of it that leads to the state park. We had a few neighbors but great views of the San Rafael Swell. There continue to be sites along both sides of Temple Mountain Road, and even though the road gets a bit rougher and narrower as you pass through the swell, we saw a good number of trailers, fifth wheels and class A’s down this way. There are even a few fenced in, level gravel areas with pit toilets where people seem to congregate, but we’re not sure why if there are so many areas to choose from (especially if you have a commode in your RV). Regardless, the best sites appeared to be along the road to Little Wild Horse Canyon trail, where we saw scattered RVs sitting right under large eroded cliffs.
Having gone almost two weeks on the same tanks (thank goodness the national parks had water fills we could fill extra jugs with), we were desperate and just used Goblin Valley’s dump station and fresh water fill. Not sure if this was definitely okay, but there was nothing saying we couldn’t at least. (Luckily the park wasn’t super crowded this day and we were able to tow and park throughout our visit.) Utah is a gorgeous state, but it is definitely sparse on resources (especially without going miles out of your way), so we were thankful for this!
Given that I was waiting on a pesky blister on my foot to heal, we just wandered around the valley and didn’t really check out any of the couple-mile long hikes in the park that sounded fun but not earth shattering anyway, to be honest. Wandering around the valley was a plenty fun way to get a feel for this unique park though.
The so-called “goblins” are eroded pieces of Entrada sandstone that were once waterfront property to the sea that cut through North America millions of years ago. This is the largest concentration of this particular type of geologic feature and there sure are a lot of them here. Though the park asks you to step carefully (and we could see why as some of the rock does break off easily), it is pretty much free range to go and explore and climb on the valley floor. I imagine it would be super fun to bring kids here as there are a ton of easy things to climb. It is fun to “see” different things in the rocks similar to “seeing” formations in the clouds. As a whole they most resemble a field of mushrooms (coincidentally enough, the park was originally named Mushroom Valley), but they also reminded me of whales, shoes, goombas from the Mario videogames, among other, sometimes immature things…
The bonus of this park is that there is a good amount to do in the surrounding area of the San Rafael Swell (particularly if you are talented at scrambling and/or canyoneering), but we would have been happy to make the stop to this fun and unique little place regardless.