Goblin Valley Camping With Kids – Utah’s Most Family-Friendly State Park

Goblin Valley is one of Utah’s hidden treasures. Surrounded by gorgeous landscape and ample opportunity for adventure, Goblin Valley Camping with kids should be on every parent’s bucket list!
Behind the Reef Road Temple Mountain Camping on BLM land at Goblin Valley

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A few weekends ago we decided to take our kids camping in Goblin Valley State Park. Located in Emery County between Hanksville and Green River, Goblin Valley is a state park not to be missed!

What we learned from our experience in Goblin Valley Camping with Kids:

Camping with Kids in Goblin Valley

Visit in Spring or Fall: It can get really hot and dry in summer. During Spring and Fall you’ll find temperatures perfect for camping, hiking, and climbing.

Camp on the BLM land outside the park! If you’re tent camping, I can’t stress this enough. There are some designated camp sites in Goblin Valley State Park, but you’ll be surrounded by other campers and have zero privacy.

If you continue on Temple Mountain Road past Goblin Valley Road you’ll find a variety of great camping spots easily accessible by car or truck. We turned off of Temple Mountain Road onto Behind the Reef Rd., and found a very secluded spot right off the road to camp.

Be prepared for “no facilities”: There are a couple multi-campsite areas outside the park on BLM land with a public porta-potty type toilet, and there are two porta-potty type bathroom areas within the Goblin Valley State Park area. Other than that, you’re on your own to improvise. We brought a portable toilet lined with a heavy duty garbage bag. We were fortunate enough to have the perfect tree with a “U” shaped bare spot in the foliage. We attached a sheet to the branches, set the toilet in the U area, put a roll of toilet paper on a branch and had our own private bathroom.

Or you can stay on the campground at Goblin Valley State Park: Of course, if “no facilities” isn’t your thing, you can stay at the campground in Goblin Valley. The Goblin Valley Campground has 25 campsites and 2 yurts. The campsites are $25 per night and have flush toilets, showers, as well as communal water and dump stations. You do need to book far in advance as the campground is often sold out.

Bring your own firewood: Don’t expect to gather dead wood when you get there. Instead, bring your own firewood. Had we relied on the wood we found, we would have quickly been smoked out of our campsite.Camping off of Temple Mountain Road at Goblin Valley

Prepare for cold nights: This was where we fell short on our trip. Our boys all had new sleeping bags rated for cold temperatures, my husband had his new, warm hiking sleeping bag. I, meanwhile, had my husband’s 20 year old sleeping bag and I was freezing! Needless to say, I’ll be getting a new sleeping bag before our next spring camping trip. Layer up on the clothing. Wool socks and beanies at night are helpful.

Bring lots of water: Even where there are public toilets, there is no water. I may have missed them, but I did not see any drinking fountains at the park. We brought this water cooler, filled, for our campsite. We used the water for drinking, brushing our teeth, washing our hands, and putting out the fire. We also brought two hydration packs for my husband and me to wear when we were out hiking.

Hiking with Kids in Goblin Valley

You can hike pretty much anywhere: There are some pretty awesome established and recommended trails. Curtis Bench trail is an easy 2.1 mile out and back family-friendly hike. It offers a unique overview of Goblin Valley and a great view of the Henry Mountains. Carmel Canyon trail and Entrada Canyon trail are two other short hikes within Goblin Valley State Park that are great for families with kids ages 8 and up. We actually ran out of time to go on these hikes so let me know if you go, and how your family liked them.

Little Wildhorse Canyon/Bell Canyon loop hike is an oft-cited must hike. You’ll find the turn-off to this hike right before you hit Wild Horse Butte (pictured below).

Wild Horse Butte at Goblin Valley State Park Utah

The Little Wildhorse Canyon/Bell Canyon loop hike is San Rafael Swell’s most popular hike. The hike is a bit long. The loop 8 miles and will take about 4 hours to complete, depending on the ages of the kids in your family. Some people have stated that it only took them about 2.5 hours (though they must have been close to speed walking). I think 4 hours – 4.5 hours is a safe bet if you are walking with little kids.

We take our Ergo Carrier for our 4 year old to ride in on long hikes like this. While the hike is long, it isn’t strenuous. And, you’ll get to walk through some of the most gorgeous slot canyons in Utah. *Be sure to check the weather before you hike. Flash floods are a real and serious danger in slot canyons. We had to miss this hike because of the storm threat.

Pretty much anywhere you choose to explore will be awesome. Just explore safely. We just chose to hike down into a wash area and explore on our own. It kept us fairly near the road, and allowed us to explore an off-the-trail area safely. We had a nice walk through the wash area and then made our way up a gentle sloping rock formation.

Hiking outside of Goblin Valley

Be sure to wear your hydration packs: As many of the hikes are half-day hikes, and you’ll likely be out exploring much of the day, it is important to pack a variety of snacks and plenty of water. If you have backpack style hydration packs, you can conveniently store your snacks to eat on your hike. In addition to your hydration packs it is wise to keep more water in your car for when you return from your hike. During the hotter months you need to drink 1 gallon of water per person (adult) per day.

Valley of the Goblins: Of course, when you’re visiting Goblin Valley, you absolutely must see the goblins! There are three different valley areas you can explore.  All are filled with the famous Entrada sandstone goblins.

Valley of the Goblins, Goblin Valley State Park Utah

The unique mushroom shaped sandstone formations date back to the Jurassic age and are a result of the ebb and flow of tides and tidal currents. It was absolutely amazing!

Goblin Valley State Park with Kids

Visitors are free to climb on the goblin formations. It is, however important to keep in mind that some of the tops of the structures can be fragile. It’s a great opportunity to exemplify and teach your kids about respecting nature around us.

Visiting Goblin Valley State Park with Kids

Surrounding the valley is Molly’s Castle overlook and Goblin’s Lair. Molly’s Castle is a marvelous overlook that can be reached from the Carmel Canyon trail. As mentioned before, this trail and overlook is best for older kids, teens, and adults.

Exploring Goblin Valley State Park with Kids

Goblin’s Lair (pictured above) is full of interesting holes and caves to explore! All said, we spent a good 3 hours exploring the goblins. We could have spent longer, there was so much to explore, but it was time to return to our campsite for dinner.

Goblin Valley was just a short 3 hour and 15 minute drive from Utah County. We spent just a short weekend there, but our kids all agreed that it was their favorite camping trip yet! We are so excited to return to the San Rafael Swell area of Utah soon to explore some more.


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About Amy @ Oh So Savvy Mom

My name is Amy. I'm a mom to three, wife to one, and a sister and aunt to many. I'm an Air Force wife currently living in Bossier City, Louisiana. Oh So Savvy Mom began as a way for me to share parenting and product advice with others. I have a lot share, but I'm no loud mouth. My blog is my way to be heard. Come join me at Oh So Savvy Mom, learn about new products, pick up some parenting tips and tricks, and have a good time.

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