2016 Dutchmen Coleman
2016 Dutchmen Coleman
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Utah is known for its unique landscape, and Goblin Valley State Park is near the top of that “unique landscape” list. Sandstone pillars of all sizes and shapes resembling castles, mushrooms, and totem poles dot the three-square-mile Goblin Valley. It doesn’t look like anything else found on Earth, which is why it’s used for science fiction movies to represent faraway worlds. The valley was a marine tidal zone almost 200 million years ago and held sand dunes, beaches, and ocean floors. Variations in the sandstone hardness caused the unique wind and water erosion patterns that visitors come to see today.
Camping at Goblin Valley State Park can feel desolate, and that may be what you’re after. The park is near the small town of Hanksville, 24 miles south of Interstate 70 and 200 miles south of Salt Lake City. The valley was a secret for decades, only known to cattlemen who accidentally discovered it in the 1920s. Desert explorers referred to it as Mushroom Valley in the 1940s, and the name stuck until its creation as a state park in 1964. Goblin Valley is full of photographic opportunities, scenic viewpoints, and trails for exploration on foot and bike. Book an RV in Emery County and see for yourself why it’s now one of the most popular state parks in Utah.
Amateur explorers of all ages love hiking in Goblin Valley because there are no official trails. You can meander through the valley and explore the sandstone formations. Children enjoy climbing over and through the smaller pillars while adults can prove their worth on the larger ones. If you're looking for trails, however, there are six miles of established trails elsewhere in the park. These trails vary in length and difficulty and lead to scenic viewpoints and other fascinating geologic features. The arid climate isn’t friendly to a lot of vegetation, but you can still keep an eye out for desert animals like jackrabbits, pronghorn antelopes, and kangaroo rats.
Mountain bikers also have a network of trails to enjoy on Wild Horse Mesa. There are multiple shorter loops that bicyclists can combine into larger ones, depending on their available time. The Wild Horse Mesa Mountain Bike Trail is a delightful 21-mile out-and-back suitable for all skill levels but scenic enough to attract even the most hardcore mountain bikers. The trail leads to a viewpoint where you can admire the surrounding reefs and mountain ranges. All bicyclists must stay on established roads.
RV campers at Goblin Valley stay active long after the sun goes down, and not just because the temperature is much more pleasant in the evening. Goblin Valley State Park is a member of the International Dark Sky Association, meaning it’s one of the darkest areas on Earth. The remote location of the park will give you great views of the Milky Way and the rest of the night sky. Rangers lead moonlit walks through the desert and also set up telescopes for you to get closer to these heavenly bodies.
The campground at Goblin Valley State Park is open year-round, and you should know that it can get very hot in the middle of summer. It's a smaller state park RV campground with 14 sites, though there are an additional ten walk-in tent pad sites if you're in a pinch. The campground itself is outside of the valley but is still situated near unique rock formations that you can explore directly from camp. There's not a lot of privacy here, but the motorhome camping sites do have decent spacing.
Amenities at Goblin Valley State Park Campground include heated showers, flush toilets, and a dump station. There are no electric or water hookups at any of the RV sites. Water taps are spread out throughout the park, and each site has a shade pavilion, fire ring with grill, and picnic table. The RV sites are back-in driveways that can accommodate RVs up to 59 feet in length. You're welcome to bring your pets into the Goblin Valley State Park Campground as long as they're kept on a maximum six-foot leash.
Despite its remote location, Goblin Valley State Park hosts many events throughout the year. There’s an exciting mountain bike festival in the spring, and the runners in the family can attempt the Goblin Valley Ultra Marathon in the fall. There is a nine-hole disc golf course that you can walk to from your rental RV, and the park hosts a tournament in early winter.
There's much more to explore near the park. Slot canyons and even more hiking trails await you, particularly in San Rafael Reef. Little Wild Horse Canyon is the most popular canyon here, but use caution during rainstorms as it can violently flood without notice. You can also get even more desolate by RV camping on any of the nearby BLM lands. Hanksville also has numerous recreational opportunities, including fishing and ATV tours.
No motorhome camping trip to Utah would be complete without visiting the other major national parks. Capitol Reef National Park is the closest, 60 miles to the southwest, and has great RV camping. If you drive northwest out of the park towards Green River, you’ll be within striking distance of Moab, Canyonlands National Park, and Arches National Park. If you need to do any significant provisioning or fuel purchases, you'll want to do so in Green River. Take some time out to indulge in a fresh burger or local barbecue while you're here. If the Rockies are calling you next, continue east on Interstate 70 to Grand Junction, just 150 miles from Goblin Valley.