This state park is fairly remote but situated in a very good location if you are touring the southern national parks of Utah. Just off route 24, Goblin sits in a valley at the base of the San Rafael Swell. The park has unique features of sandstone. The valley is composed of different layers of sandstone that eroded at different rates. The lower layer eroded faster than the upper layer, creating mushroom type sculptures.
As with most state parks in Utah, Goblin has showers and camp sites. Great to stop in and visit for the day.
More here on this wonderful park: Goblin Valley State Park
Springdale is a quaint little town right at the entrance to Zion National Park. The town has everything you need for your visit to Zion. Hotels, good restaurants, outdoor equipment shops and guide services if you desire using one.
While I always camp within Zion National Park, I enjoy going into Springdale sometimes for dinner or just stop into my favorite watering hole, The Bit and Spur Saloon. I have very fond memories sitting at the bar after a long backpacking trip in Zion, sipping a hefenweisen beer as the bar played Ben Harper.
They now have a fairly good supermarket so you don't have to go all the way to the next town for supplies.
Bryce Canyon National Park has some very unique features known as "hoodoos." These hoodoos are formed by erosion from ice and rainwater wearing away the weak limestone. Bryce is open year round but can have many trail closures, especially in winter. Winter can be severe because Bryce Canyon rim is at 8000 feet above sea level and that is where you can gain access to the park.
There is a $25 entrance fee. The main area of the canyon is toward the entrance and the one most photographed. Camping is available and reservations can be made online at www.recreation.gov
Bryce also has a Lodge in the park and a visitor center.
Zion National Park was the first national park I visited many years ago. One of my favorite parks. Zion is located in the southwestern part of the state and is only a 3 hour drive from Las Vegas. There is a $25 entry fee. In 1997, the park service introduced a shuttle service to replace the number of vehicles driving to Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. The shuttle must be used from mid March to the beginning of November. Vehicle are permitted all other times. The drive through the park on route 9 is one not to be missed.
There are two visitor centers, Zion Canyon (Main entrance) and Kolob Canyon to the north. These two are not connected by road and you would have to exit the park to get to the other. There is also a hotel in the park, Zion Canyon Lodge.
Zion is different than other "canyon" national parks such as Bryce or Grand Canyon because all visitor centers, camping and the lodge are on the canyon floor. There are several hiking trail throughout the canyon floor, included the hike up the Virgin River to the "Narrows." All over night backpacking requires a back country permit that can be obtain at Zion Canyon visitor center.
There is several campgrounds within the park. You must reserve this in advance at www.recreation.gov
This is the point at which the first rail line across the US from east to west came together in May 1869. The site is literally still in the middle of nowhere ( about 1 1/2 North of Salt Lake City). At the site are replicas of the two trains that met and the site where the spike was laid.
This town in Southwestern utah is the gateway to Zion National park and many of the other National parks of southern Utah. In addition it has its own history as a early center of mormonism and as the winter home of Brigham Young.
While travelling through Utah and Arizona visiting one of the slot canyons was an absolutely ‘must do’ for us. We decided for the Little Wild Horse Canyon as our first slot canyon ever, mostly because we had read a lot of good reviews of it and because it is located close to Goblin Valley State Park.
We hadn’t any problems driving (by normal car) to the parking area, parked our car, signed the trail register, took a lot of water and some provisions with us and started our hike into some unknown ‘adventure’.
Just after the toilet the trail starts more or less within a wide and stony streambed. After about 15 minutes the trail divides and we followed the one to the right (left is to Bell Canyon). Slowly but surely the trail became narrower, and the rock walls higher. After some more minutes we entered the ‘entrance’ of Little Wild Horse Canyon, but the walls were not yet too high and the sun was still shining.
Suddenly we were walking in the first ‘narrow’ with impressive rock formations towering over our heads, curved and sculpted sandstone rocks and incredible colours. Sometimes the canyon was almost as narrow as our shoulders, but nowhere it was difficult to pass (only when we had some upcoming other hikers). The hike itself is a combination of coarse gravel, fine sand, and rocks.
We were lucky with the weather; on most places the sun reached the bottom of the canyon and we were able to shoot a lot of pictures (visited June 20th between 1.30 and 3.00 pm). We did a couple of narrows and then returned the same way; it is also possible to make a loop, coming back through Bell Canyon.
(See for more info and a map: http://www.climb-utah.com/SRS/lwh.htm)
After 1½ hours we came back at the trailhead and had a breathtaking really beautiful experience.
From deposits laid about 170 million years ago by a vast inland sea, the park has been sculpted by erosion of wind and water. Today results of these geologic forces can be seen in the stone gnomes in habiting the valley.
When approaching Goblin Valley State Park from Highway 24 through a more or less flat landscape of the San Rafael Desert we didn’t see anything spectacular. Just around the park entrance a re a couple of goblins, but we were absolutely overwhelmed by the view from the overlook into the valley with thousands and thousands of these goblin-like rock formations. The valley – not that big; being one mile across and two miles long - is surrounded by impressive rock walls and in the background are the San Rafael Reef and the Henry Mountains.
‘Of course’ we descended the rather steep slope into the valley. There are no trails on the bottom, so we wandered around surrounded by the ‘goblins’. Most of these red/orange/brown coloured rocks are just a couple of meters high. When coming so close it is very easy to see that the (top) boulders are of hard rock with a weaker sandy layer. It is almost unbelievable this landscape is the result of millions of years of effects of wind and water.
One of the discoverers of the valley called it Mushroom Valley and I think this would be a better name, because in my opinion the rocks look more like mushrooms than like goblins. I have to admit some are absolutely phallic-like rocks (but Phallus Valley State Park doesn’t sound !!).
We returned and had our lunch at the sheltered observation point, with still great views of this unique landscape from another planet !! All together our visit took about one hour and was absolutely worth the detour from the highway.
Goblin Valley is a state park and your America the Beautiful (annual) Pass is not valid.
Admission fee is USD 7,-.
The Park and (small) Visitor Center are open year round.
If you are visiting Utah in January, you might want to check out the annual International Balloon Festival in Bluff, Utah. Bluff sits right at the southeastern corner of Utah right next to the Valley of the Gods. Sounds important?! Because it is. To get to Bluff you can go through the switchbacks of the overwhelming Valley of the Gods. Once you enter Bluff you have a sky full of hot air balloons of all colors and themes. The experience is amazing and once the balloons ground mid-day you have not only the valley to see, but also Goosenecks State Park and the Natural Bridges National Monument you can visit within a few minutes of each other.
No trip to Utah would be complete without a trip to Arches National Park. From outside the park you'd never guess there's anything unique up there. But after just a short ascent after entering you'll be amazed by the landscape and of course the arches that dot the landscape.
People come from all over the world to visit Bryce Canyon National Park, and after you see it for yourself you'll understand why. There is truly no other place on earth like it. For more information have a look at my VT page:
There are so many things to see and do on and around the Great Salt Lake. For the brave you can boat (too salty), or float (too salty and too many brineshrimp). You can walk and walk and walk through its waters trying to get deep enough to try to float. You can hike Stansbury and Antelope Islands. Antelope Island State Park also has biking, and kayak rentals, buffalo roundups, and an old farm with tours and wagon rides, You can visit world renowned landscape art at the Spiral Jetty. Bird watching at Farmington Bay and Bear River Bird Refuge usually offers avocets and Wilson's Phalarope, swifts, eagles and more. Saltair resort hosts concerts from new and off-beat bands. I know I should have an entry for each of these, but right now I'm just thinking overview. I have a love/ ignore kind of relationship with the lake... I love it, but it is so easy to ignore. Yet there is no more beautiful sunset than from its shores, there are no more quiet moments than from its waters. If you want any specific information email me and I'll answer any questions.
In Zion National Park, which if full of unique landforms, Checkerboard Mesa is the most famous on the east side of the park. This area features stone with horizontal and vertical lines, forming a very rare checkerboard pattern.
En route to Moab, we stopped briefly at Newspaper Rock to have a look at the ancient petroglyphs left by the Puebloan people hundreds of years ago.
The sandstone cliff is covered with images of horses with riders, animal pelts, paw prints and human feet with six toes. The engravings were very well preserved and easy to view, it was fascinating to see and well worth the detour, I thought. There is also a primitive campground here amongst the large cottonwood trees.
If you continue west past this site, you will soon arrive at The Needles District of Canyonlands NP.
As ‘Dutchies’ we always are trying to include a bike trip during our holidays. For Zion National Park – where we stayed only 1 night – we decided exploring Zion Canyon by bike.
We started from the shop of Zion Cycles in the centre of Springdale towards the Visitor Center of Zion NP. Here starts the Pa’rus Trail, a combined paved hike and bike trail along the Virgin River, this is a nice and (almost) level part of the trip, crossing some creeks before reaching Canyon Junction.
Here we took the Scenic Drive into Zion Canyon and were pedalling between high red and pink coloured mountains with the lush green valley of the Virgin River at the bottom of the valley to our left. We loved the views of this beautiful landscape and even saw some wildlife along the road. At Zion Lodge we had our first stop for a drink.
We passed impressive places like Weeping Rock and Big Bend before reaching the end of the Scenic Drive at the sheer cliffs of The Temple of Sinawava. There we had another (long) break, did drink a lot of water from a tap, sat near the Virgin River, looking at the crowds walking along the Riverside Walk.
The ride back to Springdale was completely downhill and was much more agreeable while catching some wind due to our speed. This amazing Zion Canyon bike ride of almost 30 km’s took us 4 hours, including stops.
- Scenic Drive: due to safety concerns cyclists are required to pull over and stop when approached from behind by a shuttle bus; which means during our trip we had a stop every 10 minutes or so.
- Distance: Springdale to The Temple of Sinawava is about 14 km’s and has a total elevation gain of 200 meters; don’t underestimate this incline. If you are not an experienced biker it can be quite a tough ride.
- During our trip there was a lot of sunshine and it was really hot in the Canyon, so carry a lot of water. Water is also available at The Temple of Sinawava and drinks/snacks at Zion Lodge.
- We rented our bikes from Zion Cycles, located behind Zion Pizza & Noodle Co. We paid USD 25,- per bike for a half day (= 4 hours) !! They have a leaflet with bike rides in the Zion Area (also to Grafton).
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