Goblin Valley’s eminent feature is its thousands of hoodoos and hoodoo rocks, which are formations of mushroom-shaped rock pinnacles, some as high as several meters. The distinct shape of these rocks comes from an erosion-resistant layer of rock atop softer sandstone.
The vast landscape of sandstone goblins may have visitors wondering if they’re on Mars or in Utah. The movie, Galaxy Quest, was filmed at Goblin Valley State Park because of its unearthly scenery. Scores of intricately eroded creatures greet visitors to Goblin Valley. Hike among these rock formations and discover numerous haunting coves. Adjacent to the park, off-highway vehicle enthusiasts will find hundreds of miles of dirt roads to explore.
Hiking is permitted in the park, which features three marked trails.
The Visitor Center is open daily from 8 am to 5 pm. However, during winter months (Nov – Feb), the Visitor Center may be closed for short periods of time while staff is away at lunch or on park business and occasionally may be closed all day if no staff is available.
38° 33.901′ N
110° 42.190′ W
Holiday Closures: None
Main Campground: $16
Group Overnight Camping:
Group Campground: $3 per person (25 person min – 35 max – 8 vehicles or 4 RVs max)
- 24 miles south of I-70 on Highway 24, turn at Temple Mountain junction, follow signs 12 miles to park.
- 20 miles north of the town of Hanksville on Highway 24, turn at Temple Mountain junction, follow signs 12 miles to park.
The secluded Goblin Valley was first discovered by cowboys searching for cattle. Then in the late 1920s, Arthur Chaffin, owner/operator of the Hite Ferry, and two companions were searching for an alternate route between Green River and Caineville. They came to a vantage point about one mile (1.6 km) west of Goblin Valley and were awed by what they saw â€“ five buttes and a valley of strange-shaped rock formations surrounded by a wall of eroded cliffs. In 1949 Chaffin returned to the area he called ‘Mushroom Valley’. He spent several days exploring the mysterious valley and photographing its scores of intricately eroded rocks.
Publicity attracted visitors to the valley despite its remoteness. In 1954 it was proposed that Goblin Valley be protected from vandalism. The state of Utah later acquired the property and established Goblin Valley State Reserve. It was officially designated a state park on August 24, 1964.
Plants and animals
Vegetation is limited to hardy desert species that can endure blowing sand and hot dry surface conditions. Vegetation and wildlife exist on a limited supply of water in the arid desert environment. Plants have adapted by reducing the size of their leaves to reduce evaporation, with some having a waxy coating on their leaves that reduces water loss. Flora occupying Goblin Valley include Mormon tea (joint fir), Russian thistle, Indian ricegrass, and various cacti. Juniper and pinyon pine grow at slightly higher elevations.
Animals often must travel many miles to find water or else wait for thunderstorms to provide moisture. Most animals in the area are nocturnal, venturing out only in the cooler evenings to hunt and forage for food. Some animals get water from the food they eat and go for weeks without a drink of water. Jack rabbits, scorpions, kangaroo rats, pronghorn antelope, kit foxes, midget faded rattlers, lizards, and coyotes are found within and near the park.
The unusual stone shapes in Goblin Valley result from the weathering of Entrada Sandstone. They consist of debris eroded from former highlands and redeposited on a former tidal flat of alternating layers of sandstone, siltstone and shale. The rocks show evidence of being near an ancient sea with 1) the ebb and flow of tides, 2) tidal channels that directed currents back to the sea and 3) coastal sand dunes.
Joint or fracture patterns within the Entrada’s sandstone beds created initial zones of weakness. The unweathered joints intersected to form sharp edges and corners with greater surface-area-to-volume ratios than the faces. As a result, the edges weathered more quickly, producing the spherical-shaped ‘goblins’.
Average daytime highs in the summer average between 90 and 105Â°F, though the low humidity, high elevation, and sparse vegetation allow evenings to cool off rapidly to about 50Â°F. Winters see colder temperatures and occasional snow, with temperatures above freezing most days but often dropping as low as 10Â°F at night. The average precipitation is less than 8 inches. During the summer, the monsoon arriving from the south brings frequent intense and localized thunderstorms. The rugged terrain and intense rainfall can lead to devastating flash floods, while the low humidity combined with gusty winds and frequent lightning can spark wildfires.