Let your imagination run at the fantastic Goblin Valley

Tom’s Experience exploring Goblin Valley:

Goblin Valley State Park is home to the very accurately named Valley of Goblins. This is a place where you can really let your imagination run wild.

Valley of Goblins Utah

There are no established trails in the Valley of the Goblins so you are free to roam, explore, ponder and climb in the beauty that surrounds you.

Exploring the Valley of Goblins

They say 80,000 people visit Goblin Valley every summer so do not go during peak season expecting to find solitude.

Goblin State Park

The valley is split into three sections, the upper, the middle and the lower. While wandering through the park it almost feels as if you are on a different planet with the red sand and the bizarre rock formations. There are a few short established trails in the park: Curtis Bench Trail, Entrada Canyon Trail, the Carmel Canyon Trail and the Molly’s Castle Overlook leading to the Goblins Lair.

Valley of Goblins Hoodoos

It will get hot in the desert so bring plenty of water but there is also a small store at the entrance where you can purchase snacks and drinks.

Hiking in Utah State Parks

Dogs are allowed in the park but must be kept on leash. You can spend all day playing among the goblins and just head back to the car when you are tired or your imagination starts to slow.

Tom’s Rating:

Trail Info: Goblin Valley is located south of I-70 about 25 miles on Highway 24 and is about 25 miles north of Hanksville, the closest city. There are many signs that point the way and it shouldn’t be too difficult to find. There is a $10 a day entrance fee to enter the park. There are some campsites and yurts available for a fee but in order to get one you need to make a reservation months in advance during the peak seasons. There are outhouses at the main parking area, observation point.

GPS:

Observation Point Parking Area:     38.564372,-110.703305

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Explore the beautiful family friendly Bell Canyon

Tom’s Experience hiking Bell Canyon:

Bell Canyon is a popular slot canyon in the San Rafael Swell just outside of Goblin Valley State Park. The trailhead is usually packed with people since it is such a great, family friendly, adventure. It isn’t nearly as awesome as its close neighbor, Little Wild Horse Canyon, but it is still a pretty fun slot canyon.

Hiking in the San Rafael Swell

This is a great canyon to experience canyoneering, because there are really no technical parts requiring ropes, swims or keepers, and if you get to a point you can’t go up any further you can turn around and head back to the trailhead. You can hike up Bell Canyon and back down if you would like but the more popular route is to combine Bell Canyon with Little Wild Horse and go up one canyon and then down the other for an 8.7 mile loop.

Hiking Through Bell Canyon

From the trailhead, follow the wash up and eventually you will come to a small dry fall that is easy to get around. After that, the junction of Bell Canyon and Little Wild Horse is pretty close. There was a sign when we were there pointing out the different canyons. Bell Canyon is the left fork and Little Wild Horse is the right. If you decide to do the loop starting with Bell Canyon, when you exit Bell Canyon there will be a road you walk along.

Bell Canyon Loop

Follow that road to the right and eventually there will be a sign for Little Wild Horse Canyon. Bell Canyon was not nearly as narrow as Little Wild Horse and I felt that Bell had a few more obstacles in the narrow section than Little Wild Horse. Neither canyon was very difficult, even with a dog and a baby, but slot canyons can change drastically after every flash flood.

Family Friendly Slot Canyons Bell Canyon

Dogs are allowed on this trail but might need some help getting up and over obstacles. We brought a backpack for our dog and left it empty. This allowed us to grab the backpack to lift her up and over obstacles rather than trying to grab her when she is already scared to climb something.

Bell Canyon Cairns

The narrow section had a few dry falls when we went that were fairly easy to get down but would have been more difficult to get up. There was also a little bit of water but we were able to stem over it and not get wet.

Backpack

Doesn’t my wife look great carrying our baby in the Osprey Poco backpack! You can check out our review of the Osprey Poco Child Carrier Backpack or purchase it on Amazon

Near the top exit there is an abandoned house if you follow the road to the left as you exit. It is the remains of a miner’s house.

Tom’s Rating:

Trail Info: Head towards Goblin Valley and just before the park entrance, but after the park boundaries, turn right (west) on a side road called Wild Horse Road. Follow this road 3 miles and the trailhead will be on the right. There is plenty of parking although in multiple lots, as well as an outhouse and some trail information. The roads are paved all the way to the trailhead. There are numerous free places to camp in the area as well as paid places in Goblin Valley.

GPS:

Trailhead = 38.582782,-110.802956

Bottom of Little Wild Horse = 38.589596,-110.807097

Top of Little Wild Horse = 38.611698,-110.795011

Top of Bell Canyon = 38.6031,-110.818003

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 Please comment below to share your experience exploring Bell Canyon in the San Rafael Swell. Don’t forget to register to receive the Travel Tom’s Newsletter by submitting your email in the bar above.