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Goblin Valley is a small state park located in southern Utah not far from the big-name National Parks of Arches, Canyonlands, and Capitol Reef. It’s also just an hour and a half drive to the mountain bike mecca of Moab, making it a great pit stop on your mtb road trip.
Goblin Valley is most well-known for its mushroom-shaped hoodoos (aka goblins) that you can roam among freely. They’re pretty cool! There are also a number of hiking trails and caves to explore.
In addition to hiking, there are 7+ miles of super unique mountain biking singletrack (although sadly not among the hoodoos!). Goblin Valley mountain biking isn’t ‘world-class’ but it is a bonus to an already interesting area.
In this post, I share everything you need to know about mountain biking in Goblin Valley State Park. Let’s dive in!
Why Mountain Bike in Goblin Valley State Park?
The mountain biking in Goblin Valley State Park has a few things going for it. It may not be the ‘best’ or most engaging mountain biking in the state, but it’s definitely worth checking out if you’re passing through the area.
Here are a few things to expect and look forward to when riding this small network of trail:
Important Things to Know
Trail Guide & Route Recommendations
There are 5 loops that make up the trail network in Goblin Valley State Park, so it’s very easy to plan and modify your ride however you want.
I rode the outer perimeter of each loop, which was just over 6 miles and 600ft of climbing.
If you want to do a shorter ride, I highly recommend choosing the upper loops of Dark Side Of The Moon and Desert View.
All of the trails are best-ridden clockwise and at each intersection, there are maps with your location marked to make navigation easy (I always recommend having the TrailForks app downloaded to your phone).
As I mentioned above, the mountain bike trails in Goblin Valley are built on bentonite clay, so do not ride them when they’re wet.
When they’re dry, the singletrack rolls pretty fast and smoothly and there is virtually no tech or rocks on the trails, it’s almost all smooth, buff singletrack.
For climbing, there is a slight incline from south to north, but the total elevation gain is very manageable.
Goblin Valley Mountain Biking Map
>> Full Goblin Valley Loop
The full Goblin Valley mountain biking tour takes you around the perimeter of each of the 5 loops.
The lower half offer views out over the desert landscape with the Henry Mountains in the distance while the upper loops take you to the edge of the San Rafael Swell.
To navigate this loop, just keep taking lefts at every intersection (there are maps at each junction to direct you as well).
Route directions: Goblin Valley Trailhead > Lizard Foot > Buffalo Head > Landslide > Dark Side of the Moon > Desert View > Lizard Foot
Route notes: There are trail maps at each intersection, so a map is not totally necessary (although I always recommend having some form of navigation)
Do less: If you want to do a shorter loop, I recommend just doing the top half of this loop by skipping Buffalo Head and Landslide. Dark Side Of The Moon (the upper left loop) takes you out to the San Rafael Swell lookout, which is stunning (there is a bit of exposure) and Desert View (the upper right loop) has a number of scenic vistas as well including a great lookout over the campground. You can see the TrailForks route here.
Mountain Bike Packing List
Below are a few of my favorite pieces of mountain biking gear and recommendations for your mountain bike trip or ride:
Planning Your Goblin Valley Visit
Best Time To Go
The best times to visit Goblin Valley State Park are spring and fall. Summers get pretty hot (over 90°) and rain showers can be frequent (remember, you can’t ride these trails when they’re wet!).
Winters tend to be cold and also often wet with snow and rain. Always check the forecast before planning your trip.
Goblin Valley State Park camping
There is a small campground within Goblin Valley State Park with 24 sites that can be reserved ahead of time. There are also 2 yurts if you prefer glamping.
If you’re looking for dispersed camping, there are a ton of first-come, first-serve sites outside of the Park off of Goblin Valley Rd. that look out over a mountain of slickrock and have easy access to the Wild Horse Window Trailhead (see below).
Other things to do
Goblin Valley isn’t really a destination you’d go to just to mountain bike (mountain biking is a great addition to the Park), so I recommend spending some time there exploring these other activities as well:
Disc golf: There’s an 18-hole disc golf course that is free to play for all visitors. Check in at the Visitor’s Center for a map and disc rentals if you don’t have your own.
Hiking: Definitely spend some time walking around the hoodoos in the Valley of the Goblins. It’s otherworldly! There are also a few short hikes spread throughout the Park. We hiked to Goblin’s Lair, which was 3 miles roundtrip and features a huge cave that was actually once a slot canyon before a rockfall closed it off.
Wild Horse Window: Wild Horse Window is just outside of Goblin Valley State Park, but it is suuuper cool. There are multiple trailheads that lead up the slickrock to this cave and it’s not well marked at all. But if you keep aiming for the cave and following the cairns you’ll get there.
Temple Mountain Wash Pictograph: There’s a great display of pictographs just up the road from Goblin Valley State Park. They’re right off the side of the road and definitely worth checking out on your way out of the Park.
Goblin Valley mountain biking may not be the best in the state – not even close – but is unique and I enjoy my short pedal there.
The awesome views out over the San Rafael Swell, the agate and jasper geodes, and the otherworldly terrain all made the experience.
Plus, Goblin Valley State Park is also home to a handful of other great adventures like hiking trails, exploring among the voodoos, and desert camping.
If you find yourself in the area, I recommend stopping for a night or two and checking it out. It’s a cool place!
Planning a Utah mountain biking road trip? Be sure to add these destinations to your itinerary:
Have you visited Goblin Valley State Park? What did you think of the Goblin Valley mountain biking trail network? Leave a comment below!