It is Labor Day weekend. So what are most people doing? Camping. To avoid the crowds, I went to a State Park a little less traveled - GOBLIN VALLEY STATE PARK.
Goblin Valley is a small, but unique park. The main attraction area can be covered in a few hours. I heard the "goblins" look different in different lights throughout the day so allow more time if you have it.
INSIDE THE PARK
Upon the arrival at the formations area, there is a big overlook, toilets, and signs to read. Once inside, the valley floor is flat so it offers easy access for all ages and abilities. The cool thing about this place is that there are no designated paths (the map shows 3 areas but you can go wherever you want). The shape of these rocks comes from an erosion-resistant layer of rock atop softer sandstone. The figures fall and new ones form constantly. Thanks to this factor, visitors are allowed to climb on, play with, and discover everything in the area.
The fee for the park is $8 per day right now. There is a nice campground in the park which I believe is another $18. The campground has running water, toilets, showers, benches, and fire pits.
Just outside the park, there are two great spots to camp for free on BLM land. The first can be found if you turn right on the Little Wild Horse Road just before the Ranger station/gift shop/entrance. Follow the road outside the park for about 3 miles until you reach a few dirt roads that lead you to the cliffs. If you have an off-road vehicle, you can camp right next to the cliffs. It's a fantastic view.
The other free camping spot can be reached if you turn onto Temple Mountain Road and head South. There is a campsite spot next to airy bathrooms. If you drive beyond that, there are more spots that might give you more privacy. The BEST spot there, is the first turn once you get on Temple Mountain Road.
I'm adding a category for this because, as a female, I hate those non flushing toilets where you can feel the air rushing up on you as you sit down. UGH. I avoid them at all costs. Next to the goblins and at the campsite down the road that I mentioned, there is an air toilet. In the campground and at the ranger station is a flushing toilet. Be wise.
Obviously, you can hike near the formations. Outside the park are also places to discover. A must do hike when you are in the area can be found at Bell Canyon. (The park ranger can give you a brochure of this hike.) If you take the Little Wild Horse Road and drive 5 miles on that road, you will find the parking lot to the hike. When we arrived at the parking lot, there were a lot of cars, but once on the trail we hardly saw our fellow hikers. While hiking on the path, you will reach a fork in the road. If you turn right, you can make it to a slot canyon. It's about a 3 mile hike there and back or you can do the full loop and it's about an 8 mile hike.
It was raining a bit before we started hiking and we encountered a flash flood. It was still fun to hike in the flood water to the narrow canyon, but we decided the water level might be too high if we kept going in the rain. So beware of the weather conditions.
I was hoping to find Willie Wonka's factory at the end of the trail due to the color of the rain water, but no luck.
*There aren't any stores super close to the area so make sure you have your gas and needed supplies before getting to the park.
*Dogs are allowed in the park on leash so feel free to pack your best friend.
*Yes, this is the place filmed as the alien planet in the movie Galaxy Quest and in the Killers Human music video.
*Finally, support your state parks, but don't forget to clean up after yourself.
I filled an entire beef jerky bag full of garbage just at the spot we camped near.