Hike to Goblin's Lair and Carmel Canyon

Utah Goblin Valley State Park

Added by Katie Lyons

  • Distance: 3.5 miles roundtrip
  • Minimal elevation gain
  • Secluded hike
  • Incredible views and photo opportunities
  • Great for beginning canyoneers to explore in relative safety

This beautiful, isolated hike also makes for a flexible route – very few places in Goblin Valley are off limits, allowing you to customize the adventure as much as you please.

The hike begins on a rapidly descending trail, heading into the heart of Goblin Valley State Park. After a quarter mile of steep descents, the trail levels and winds through the mysterious hoodoo formations.

Any signs of civilization are soon left behind as the trail turns to face a cliff wall covered with “goblins” (the rock formations native to this area). As the hike continues, you are graced with the presence of wildflowers, various plant species, and potentially an occasional desert animal.

The final steep section of the hike travels along a well-developed trail through debris of fallen rock. After scrambling up the trail, you will notice a large slot canyon to your right, which appears out of nowhere in the face of the cliff. Dark and eerie in nature, the slot canyon compels you to either explore deeper or admire from above.

After exploring Goblin's Lair, follow the trail back the way you came, or continue exploring in Carmel Canyon, on the way back. The sun reflecting off the sandstone walls of the canyon give photographers the chance to capture the breathtaking beauty that is Goblin Valley.

After squeezing through narrow walls and ascending up a small rock face (no climbing equipment required), you will arrive back at the parking lot, hopefully excited by these adventures and hungry for more.

For more info on camping in Goblin Valley, Check out this adventure.

Pack List

  • Water
  • Camera
  • Rappelling equipment to descend into Goblin's Lair (optional)
  • Tent (optional)
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More



Hiking, Photography, Rock Climbing

Skill Level:



Spring, Summer, Autumn



Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Picnic Area

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How to Get There

8 months ago

Great Description

This is an awesome, short, yet informative description of a great day in Goblin Valley! I would like to add however, that if anyone does rappel in the Goblin's Layer to get a permit from the ranger station. They are ten dollars for a group. Also be prepared to rig your own anchors as the anchor points to the rappel are not mangaged by the Park rangers. Once again great job! I had a blast doing this adventure! Also, this is an epic trip during the Winter, no crowds!

8 months ago

Added by Katie Lyons

Trail running, skiing, and photography enthusiast from Gunnison, CO.

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