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Goblin Valley State Park in Utah: Unusual Rock Formations You Must See to Believe!

Utah is a fantastic state filled with natural wonders, including many beautiful state and national parks. We loved vacationing there!

Goblin Valley was first a State Reserve and is now a State Park.

Goblin Valley was first a State Reserve and is now a State Park.

Goblin Valley State Park

Unearthly and imaginary creatures abound in the rock formations of Goblin Valley State Park in Utah. It is a must-see adventure for your entire family. The park is located between Capitol Reef National Park and Arches National Park.

My mother, niece, and I met some fellow travelers going in the opposite direction between the national parks. They told us to make a point of taking the detour off of Highway 24 onto the unpaved road, and then follow the signs to see the Goblin Valley State Park. They made it sound so fascinating that we decided to take their advice.

We had just enjoyed sightseeing in the unbelievably beautiful Capitol Reef National Park and were on our way to see both Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. Had we not been tipped off by those fellow vacationers, we probably would not have taken the time to make this side trip, which turned out to be of great interest.

The Three Sisters at the Goblin Valley State Park

The Three Sisters at the Goblin Valley State Park

The Three Sisters

As we approached the area and got closer, we began to see some unique outcroppings of very unusual goblin-like creatures sitting upon a flat surface of the rock. It appeared as though some giant children had formed these sentries while playing with silly putty, and they were just the beginning of what we were to see.

On the left-hand side of the photo above is the formation commonly referred to as the three sisters.

Road grader at work on the road we took to get to the Goblin Valley State Park.

Road grader at work on the road we took to get to the Goblin Valley State Park.

Unpaved Entrance Road

The 10-mile one-way unpaved road was being newly graded, and we followed the dirt path, not knowing what to expect. The date was back in July of 1991. The road may be paved by now, but I doubt it due to its remoteness from more heavily trafficked areas.

Goblin Valley State Park

Goblin Valley State Park

Raised Viewing Area

As we got to the main viewing area, there was a raised shelter with picnic tables where one could look down upon this out of this world sight. On the smooth earthen floor appeared countless unearthly formations all cast in stone. Stones piled upon other rocks formed images of creatures of every type imaginable.

Many look like mushrooms, with others appearing like the goblins for which the state park gets its name. In the late 1920s, when Arthur Chaffin first discovered this place, he called it Mushroom Valley, which seems appropriate to this site.


Off the Beaten Path

Goblin Valley State Park is one of those places that one could easily miss seeing, as it is definitely off the beaten path. Just imagine what the first people who discovered it must have thought!

Many people, both children and adults, were exploring and climbing up on the rocks, but they looked like dwarves playing in that giant child's silly putty city, as seen from the overlook.

There are no specific trails throughout this maze on the valley floor. Still, the higher overlook picnic area can always be the guidepost to getting one safely back to one's car. If it were not for that point of reference, it would be easy to get lost among this wide array of scattered rock formations.

Take some time to watch what it is like to walk among these unusual rocks in the video below.

Reservation Information

Spring and fall are perfect times to visit this park because of more moderate temperatures. It can get sizzling hot in summer and also very cold during the winter.

There are some beautiful campsites here. Make reservations by calling 800-322-3770. The video below shows some of the campsites. It also shows even more of what there is to do and see while visiting this remote park playground.

It would be fun to be able to spend several days hiking and playing in this area!

Bring Your Camera!

If you are a Hobbit fan or just like gremlins and goblins, be sure and make plans to visit this site. Be sure to bring your camera. It is a photographer's paradise!

Goblin Valley State Park and all of those unearthly rock creatures will remain in your memory long after you have finished your vacation in Utah. It has certainly done that for us!

Picture showing all of the people playing among the rock formations in Goblin Valley State Park.  Photo taken from the raised picnic area above.

Picture showing all of the people playing among the rock formations in Goblin Valley State Park. Photo taken from the raised picnic area above.

Goblin Valley State Park

Goblin Valley State Park


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2008 Peggy Woods

Comments are welcomed.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 11, 2017:

Hi Athlyn,

So glad that I could take you along on a virtual trip to Goblin Valley State Park. You must have some interesting formations up there in Alberta if this reminded you of them.

Athlyn Green from West Kootenays on September 11, 2017:

This reminded me of the formations in Alberta.

I can see why Goblin was originally called Mushroom Valley--amazing what wind and sand can carve from the existing landscape.

By means of your photos and descriptions, it was like traveling there.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 30, 2017:

Hi Dale, The place on Catalina Island must be something if this Goblin Valley State Park reminds you of it. Strange that you cannot successfully get a photo of that one rock.

Dale Anderson from The High Seas on August 29, 2017:

Wow this looks like a really cool place. It reminds me of a spot on Catalina Island off the coast of California. There is a rock there that, to me at least, looks exactly like a bear sitting upright. Must have some kind of Voodoo curse or something on it though because, every time I take a picture of it with my phone, my phone breaks and I lose the picture. I suspect that, at this point, my wife thinks I am making the whole thing up.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 30, 2017:

Hi Susie,

Yes I think you are correct! Those are a lot of goblin shapes all in one place. It probably makes Him smile.

Susie Lehto from Minnesota on July 30, 2017:

Peg, I very much enjoyed learning about learning about Goblin Valley State Park. I have never in all my days seen so many rocks that look like 'goblins'. I believe God has a seen of humor.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 23, 2017:

Hi Nell,

It was a delight getting to see the Goblin Valley State Park. Nature is truly amazing!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 23, 2017:

Hi Robert,

It is true that for most sectors of Houston the economy is good. Those working for oil companies have been hurt in the last few years because of low oil prices worldwide. Houston's economy is diversified enough now compared to years ago in the past when it would have hurt the economy even more.

Nell Rose from England on July 23, 2017:

Nature is great isn't it? I would love to visit here! what a great day out!

Robert Sacchi on July 22, 2017:

I visited Houston on a day trip during the oil boom. At the time it looked more like the TV show Dallas, than Dallas. Glad Houston is doing well.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 22, 2017:

People surely do get excited about the Super Bowl no matter where it is held. Undoubtedly Houston will host it again. We have so many different venues + the hotel space for people to enjoy.

Robert Sacchi on July 21, 2017:

The Super Bowl may be an anomaly. Hosting a Super Bowl guarantees a certain amount of money. On top of that there are only a few cities that have a stadium suitable for a Super Bowl. So Houston will likely host the Super Bowl again before too long.

Then again hosting the Olympics use to be a losing proposition until they figured out a way to make it profitable.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 21, 2017:

Hi Robert,

Such fairs are not always profitable at the time with what cities have to spend in hosting them. What I meant is that often after the fact the venues created for the different events take on a life of their own and remain a part of the city landscape. Some of them of course are only temporary and are torn down after the events are over. For the fairly recent Super Bowl in Houston we now have many more downtown hotels as an example.

Robert Sacchi on July 20, 2017:

Yes, I enjoyed being there. It also brought back memories of the World's Fair in New York. Actually the World's Fair in Knoxville, as with the 2 World's Fairs in New York were financial busts. The one in New Orleans took the cake. They closed down after taking heavy losses. New Orleans had hoped their being a more interesting venue would save their fair from having the same fate as the one in Knoxville.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 20, 2017:

Hi Robert,

That must have been fun! Many cities after events like that are over use those venues for other purposes. Often it is a boon to the local economy which has lasting impact.

Robert Sacchi on July 19, 2017:

On my trip from San Antonion to New York I stayed overnight in Knoxville and was fortunate enough to see the World's Fair.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 19, 2017:

Hi Robert,

I agree with you that having other people along when doing a road trip is much more fun because of sharing experiences together. On some occasions if enough time is allotted extras can be worked into the schedule. Such was the case with visiting Goblin State Park.

Robert Sacchi on July 18, 2017:

Yes, I can see where that was a wonderful road trip. I'm a point A to point B type of driver. You trip also had the advantage of having someone else in the car.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 18, 2017:

Hi Robert,

My big cross country road trip was from Houston to California and back with a long time girl friend of mine from our OR nursing days. We visited 10 national parks + some state parks in a period of about 2 1/2 weeks. That was our main focus for the trip. It was fabulous! Death Valley is absolutely amazing! As to Utah, my mother, niece and I spent one vacation visiting all 5 of the national parks + some state parks & other locations in Utah. Love doing sightseeing vacations like that!

Robert Sacchi on July 17, 2017:

Never been to Death Valley. The only time I went cross country I took the I-80 route. I did make the drive from Texas to New York, but that's another story.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 17, 2017:

Hi Robert,

You are correct in what you said. There are so many spectacular sites in Utah and the western states that could all be described in that manner. Have you ever seen the salt formations in Death Valley?

Robert Sacchi on July 13, 2017:

It's curious you use the word "unearthly". I drove through another part of Utah, I-80. When I was driving through the salt flats I thought it looked unearthly. I guess Utah and other western states have many unearthly things to see.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 10, 2014:

Hi Mary,

Still not sure which rock you meant as there were a number of videos, but with many of the rocks balanced as they are, seemingly on top of one another, it was bound to happen sooner or later. Goblin Valley State Park is quite a place!

Mary Hyatt from Florida on July 10, 2014:

I stand corrected: The rock that was toppled over is the one on the video, not your photo; sorry....

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 09, 2014:

Hi Mary,

I did not hear that particular news item but it does not surprise me. This is a great area for rock climbing but one needs to use common sense. It is an amazing place! Glad you have gotten to see it in person. Thanks for your votes, pin and share.

Mary Hyatt from Florida on July 09, 2014:

One of my daughters and I visited this strange, but beautiful park several years ago, I have many photos of these curious rocks.

You may have read the story in the news about the two idiots that toppled over the large rock that sat on top of the other rock. I believe it was the one in your photo.

Voted this Hub UP, etc.etc. and shared. Will also Pin to my travel board.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 24, 2013:

Hi Au fait,

You would have loved visiting here. Great place for an entire day of climbing, playing hide and seek, etc. We have to thank those fellow travelers who told us about it! It is worth the detour to see. Thanks for sharing this information with others.

C E Clark from North Texas on August 23, 2013:

What a strange place! So many times I visited Arches National Park and took visitors there and never even knew this place existed! Such a strange place and so interesting. Great photos, videos, etc., as usual. Pinned this article to my 'Travel' board, gave you 5 more stars, voted this hub up, interesting and awesome, and will share.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 28, 2012:

Hi alocsin,

Goblin Valley State Park is amazing. Seeing the people amidst the interesting rocks does give one perspective as to scale. Ah...so you like Grieg's "In the Hall of the Mountain King" composition. I also thought it appropriate. Thanks for your comment.

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on March 28, 2012:

What a great name for a park. That final picture of people playing among the rocks gives a sense of scale to those giant formations. FYI, the music in the last video is appropriately enough from Edvard Grieg's "In the Hall of the Mountain King."

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 22, 2011:

Hi Don,

Goblin Valley State Park is well worth a detour between the national parks of Capitol Reef and Arches. Looks like it would be a great place for those people who like to camp! Thanks for your comment and votes. Merry Christmas!

Don A. Hoglund from Wisconsin Rapids on December 22, 2011:

It has been a long time since I have been in Utah but what I remember was interesting. If I ever get there again I'll try to see the goblin park.Voted up,interesting and beautiful.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 22, 2011:

Hi Gus,

Glad you liked this hub about Goblin Valley State Park...one of Utah's amazing sites and a fun playground of sorts. As far as running out of breath...am sure some of the people playing in the Goblin Valley State Park have done that. Haha! Thanks for your comment.

Gustave Kilthau from USA on December 22, 2011:

Howdy Peggy W - You know something? A person could easily run clean out of breath trying to keep up with that wonderful camera of yours. Another fun hub for you here, Peggy...

Gus :-)))

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 22, 2011:

Hi Eiddwen,

These old pictures were taken with a Canon 35mm camera...nothing fancy. Now I use just a Panasonic digital camera that cost less than $200. It has features that I have never even used. I'm pretty much a point and shoot kind of gal using a zoom lens on occasion.

These rocks are even more colorful than portrayed here because the photos were somewhat faded. If I have time I can use some photo editing to bring them back to life. All I need is time! Ha!

Glad you liked this one about Goblin Valley State Park. It is certainly an unusual outcropping of rocks in Utah!

Thanks for your comment.

Eiddwen from Wales on April 22, 2011:

Hi Peggy,

Another great one to bookmark, I love all your hubs and I was just wondering ; Do you have a super duper camera or just an average one.

I'm only curious because all your photos are amazing.

Your niece is a very pretty young lady, thank you for sharing this hub again.

Take care


Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 02, 2011:

Hello Linda Peterson,

That is typical of youngsters. We generally care to learn more about our relatives when we are older, and by then, many of them are already gone.

Did your great grandfather also visit or live at one time near the Goblin Valley State Park in Utah?

Linda Peterson on February 02, 2011:

This is so interesting. I have just started searching information about my great grandfather whom I always found fascinating. His name is Arthur Chaffin. His daughter Gladys Smith was my Grandmother. I knew he ran the first ferry at Hite,Lake Powell but had no Idea all the other important things he did in his life. Too bad when we are young that we don't think to really question our relatives lifes.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 08, 2010:

Hi Tony,

Visiting the Goblin Valley State Park was merely a side adventure to all 5 of the National Parks that we visited in the State of Utah one summer, but it was certainly interesting! Glad you liked this. Love and peace to you!

Tony McGregor from South Africa on December 07, 2010:

This was a wonderful Hub to read and the pix are awesome! Thanks for sharing this about a place I have never heard of before. Would love to see it.

Love and peace


Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 06, 2010:

Hello Arnim Walter,

Wow! You have certainly has some unique experiences in the Goblin Valley State Park in Utah! Thanks for the comment.

Arnim Walter on December 06, 2010:

My photography students and I visited the goblins in 1976 from Canada. The students liked the night time, when the goblins spooked them in moonlight. The last time I was there with my wife. While we were cooking our supper during a thunderstorm,lightning hit the valley, and storm blew the pots off the camp stove.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 26, 2010:

Hi habee,

Goblin Valley State Park in Utah is indeed a "neat place!"

Holle Abee from Georgia on April 26, 2010:

Neat place!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 05, 2010:

Hello Video Express,

I agree that with three boys...Goblin Valley State Park in Utah would be a great playground for them. Thanks for the visit and comment.

Video Express from Boston, MA on April 05, 2010:

Great pictures. I have three boys and this place would be a ton of fun.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 01, 2009:

Hello loveroflife,

Yes, Goblin Valley State Park in Utah is amazing...but as you say...there are many such spots in that state along with breathtakingly beautiful ones as well. Thanks for reading and commenting.

loveroflife on October 01, 2009:

Another amazing scenic spot in Utah. Thanks.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 12, 2009:

Hello qlcoach,

Happy that you liked this hub about Goblin Valley State Park in Utah. It really is an amazing place.

BTW...clicked on your link above & it said the hub does not exist. But by clicking on your avatar, it shows that hub. Will go read it now. Thanks for commenting.

Gary Eby from Cave Junction, Oregon on August 12, 2009:

Beautiful, Beautiful! I love nature and this park is an amazing place. Great videos too. Hope you will visit my new HUB about cruising: https://hubpages.com/hub/ebywaycruise. Enjoy my video too about Dreams the Eby Way....Gary.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 25, 2009:

Hi frogyfish, It certainly is unusual. Glad we stumbled upon it and could share it with you and others. Thanks for commenting.

frogyfish from Central United States of America on June 25, 2009:

Really strange, unusual, and most interesting rock formations. It does deserve its name. Imagine h o w it all came to be! Thanks for very interesting hub!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 02, 2009:

Hi Journey, Glad you liked it.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 02, 2009:

Hi Ethel,

We were staying in the same motel with other travelers and we were both visiting National Parks in Utah but were each going in opposite directions. So we shared additional information with one another as to things not to miss seeing. That is how we were introduced to the Goblin State Park. Would undoubtedly have passed it by without checking it out as it was an out of the way location. We were happy to have heard about it and perhaps they investigated sites we also told them not to miss. Glad you liked viewing and hearing about this.

Nyesha Pagnou MPH from USA on June 02, 2009:

This is very interesting, Peggy W. Thanks for posting this article and the photos!

Ethel Smith from Kingston-Upon-Hull on June 02, 2009:

Never heard of this place before. Thanks for sharing it with us :)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 28, 2009:

Hi Laughing Mom, Thanks for following Teresa. I feel certain you would enjoy this even better in person than just seeing the photos. It is an "out of this world" experience. Thanks for the comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 28, 2009:

Hi Teresa, This was an out of the way place compared to all the great National Parks in Utah, but worth a visit for sure. If you are in the area, be sure and make the side-trip to see it. Thanks for commenting.

Laughing Mom on May 28, 2009:

I followed Teresa over here. This looks like a place I'd love to explore!!

Sheila from The Other Bangor on May 28, 2009:

Graet photos -- glad I found this one: you are really making me itch to travel again. . . .

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 15, 2009:

Sounds like a great place, C.C. Riter. Any chance that you will write about it? Did you take any photos?

C. C. Riter on February 14, 2009:

Wow! that is beautiful. I must try to get ther myself. Pgrundy is right in her assement of you niece, very cute. This is what we peripatetic fools find. The bestest of places. i have one I love in KY, the Natural Bridge State Park in Daniel Boone Nat'l Forest.

Thanks, great hub

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 05, 2009:

Hello MellasViews, Had it not been for the tip of another tourist, we would have missed seeing this park as our focus was in visiting the National Parks of Utah. Most unusual, but definitely worth a visit!

And greetings, Amanda! Thanks for commenting. If you ever decide to visit this park, be SURE and visit some of the others. Utah is a paradise of parks!

Amanda Severn from UK on February 05, 2009:

Amazing! The wonders of nature. It looks like a great place to visit. Thanks for posting.

MellasViews from Earth on February 05, 2009:

wow... what a gorgeous looking place to visit. And yes, the photos do look like faces carved out in the sides of some of those rocks! Amazing pics!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 27, 2008:

Thanks Celesta. We saw no snakes, but of course it was daytime with many people scrambling over the rocks and making lots of noise. Nighttime is probably very different!

Celesta on December 27, 2008:

Awesome! I would love to take a tour through this great park, but because of my fear of rattlesnakes, I will settle for this tour. Ha!

You are writing some good stuff.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 25, 2008:

Most unusual beauty in these rocks, for sure! The vast majority of the State of Utah is set aside in public lands. It amazed us at just how DIFFERENT the rocks looked in each of the national and state parks. Some have such majesty and are cathedral-like and awe inspiring, and others.......like here........well...........moulded silly putty was my best description.

Thanks for the comment regarding my niece. We enjoyed many summer vacations together and they are now fond memories. I am getting to relive those trips by writing these hubs. By-the-way, she is now a young lady and the mother of her own beautiful daughter.

pgrundy on December 25, 2008:

What a beautiful place! Love the photos of your niece too--what a cutie! Thanks Peggy. (o:

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