Tucked away in the middle of nowhere southern Utah is one of the most bizarre places you'll ever see on this planet. In 100 visits you'll take 100 different paths and never feel like you've covered the same ground twice. And in a world of ever-increasing security and liability precautions, Goblin Valley is refreshingly void of safety rails and "stay off the grass" signs. If you can see it you can climb it, scurry around it, or burrow underneath it.
So what do you do when you get there? Let yourself be a kid again! Leave any fear of heights at home and scale to the top for a view across red rock country that is unmatched anywhere. Put aside claustrophobia and squeeze into as many nooks and crannies as is physically possible. Let your toughest decision be whether to go over a bulbous rock or around. Explore, explore, explore.
Goblin Valley is truly nature's best playground, especially if you get creative. Toss a Frisbee over a red rock obstacle to friend's you can't see. Play an intense game of sardines or hide and seek. Challenge the family to an extreme round of croquet. And definitely stick around until night when the unfamiliar terrain will take on an entirely new personality.
In all seriousness, Goblin Valley State Park is a treasure for Utahns and the Utah state park system. Go there and make it at least a day. It'll get inside of you and you'll find yourself wandering down out there again and again!
Directions and Information:
Leaving from Spanish Fork, drive south on Hwy 6 to the junction with I-70. Merge onto I-70 to the west and then take Exit 149. Passing underneath the interstate, follow UT-24 south for 24 miles. From there, signs will take you 12 more miles west and south before the park literally appears before you in the middle of nowhere. The park entrance fee is $7 and only good for the day you arrive, so make sure to get there early enough to feel like you got your money's worth. Also, a small visitor's center inside the ranger booth provides books and maps of the local area as well as a few treats.
If it's not the height of summer or UEA weekend, you're almost guaranteed to share the park with only a few other people like yourself. So many times I've been there and not run into a single other person. Regardless of the time of year you go, though, be sure to dress in layers and take lots of water. There are vault toilets, but there is no water source once you've arrived at the park.
If you're not fitting Goblin Valley into a larger weekend/vacation itinerary, there is camping available just outside the park. It's beautiful at night and quiet in the morning, but trust me on this: It can get cold at night!!! Not a problem if you come prepared for that (I speak from unfortunate experience). And if you're resourceful or daring, there are opportunities for free camping on public lands in several places nearby.