Carmel Canyon Trail - Molly's Castle Overlook, Observation Point - Valley of the Goblins, Goblin Valley, Utah

Carmel Canyon Trail - Molly's Castle Overlook - 1.3 miles

Observation Point - Valley of the Goblins

Carmel Canyon and Molly's Castle

Carmel Canyon and Molly's Castle

Round-Trip Length: 1.3 miles (can be done as a 1.6 mile loop)
Start-End Elevation: 4,957' - 4,841' (4,957' max elevation)
Elevation Change: -116' net elevation loss (+187' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Easy
Dogs Allowed: Yes
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: No
Related Trails:

Carmel Canyon Trail - Molly's Castle Overlook - 1.3 Miles Round-Trip

The Carmel Canyon Trail runs .65 north from Observation Point to Molly's Castle Overlook, and continues on a sparingly marked but well-established loop around the north edge of Goblin Valley.

Molly's Castle is an archetypal Colorado Plateau butte formed by compressed layers of horizontal sandstone capped by a hard layer of Curtis Rock that eroded at a slower rate than surrounding sedimentary deposits.

The Carmel Canyon Trail passes through a wide canyon mouth to an overlook on the edge of a vast desert prairie. Visitors will enjoy commanding views over the goblins, magnificent colors, varied terrain, and wildlife viewing on the Carmel Canyon Trail:

The Carmel Canyon Trail begins on the north side of Observation Point and drops to the base of a large standalone fin topped by goblin formations (.3 miles).

It makes a sharp hairpin turn (.35 miles) down to the canyon floor and turns left at a signpost in the wash (.4 miles : 4,863'). The trail runs beside the wash to Molly's Castle Overlook (.65 miles : 4,844').

To hike the loop, backtrack to cairns just before the overlook sign (.6 miles). The cairns lead east up the far canyon wall. The loop travels clockwise around the east wall of Valley #1 and back through the main goblin amphitheater to the trailhead.

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N38 33.915  W110 42.156 — 0.0 miles : Carmel Canyon Trailhead
  • N38 34.069 W110 41.902 — .35 miles : Hairpin begins descent to canyon
  • N38 34.063 W110 41.883 — .4 miles : Turn left on canyon floor
  • N38 34.123  W110 41.712 — .6 miles : Cairn split for loop
  • N38 34.122 W110 41.672 — .65 miles : Molly's Castle Overlook

Worth Noting

  • Carmel Canyon is named for the distinct bands of chocolate and bone colored sandstone in its walls. These layers are part of the Summerville Formation, deposited during dry periods and recession of the inland sea that once covered this area. Late afternoon light accentuates these colors.

  • Bring binoculars! Carmel Canyon spills into a vast prairie home to large populations of Pronghorn that are fairly easy to spot in the open desert.

  • Afternoons produce the best light over the canyon and goblin formations near the trailhead.

Camping and Backpacking Information

  • Camping is permitted in developed areas only. Backcountry camping is not permitted in Goblin Valley State Park.

  • $16 per night : $8 per extra vehicle

  • There are 24 sites and 2 yurts ($60 per night). Yurts sleep 5.

  • Pay showers are available.

  • Backcountry camping is permitted just outside the Park on BLM land, and in the San Rafael Swell. There are also several well-established car camping sites on these lands.

  • Concessions and supplies are very limited in the Park. The closest towns with supplies are Hanksville (34 miles) and Green River (42 miles).

Rules and Regulations

Day Visits:
$7 Per Vehicle
$4 Per Vehicle with a Utah senior 62+
$16 for overnight campground : $8 per extra vehicle

Dogs are permitted on trails and lands within Goblin Valley State Park. Dogs must be leashed and never left unattended, especially in cars.

Directions to Trailhead

Goblin Valley State Park is located 41.9 miles from Exit #149 on I-70 near Hanksville, Utah.

From I-70, exit #149 and turn south on HWY 24 toward Hanksville. Drive 24.8 miles south to the turnoff for Goblin Valley. Drive 5.3 miles west to Temple Mt Junction. Turn left and drive 11.8 miles to the Visitor Center and Entrance Station. Follow signs to the Campground Picnic Area (Entrada Canyon Trailhead) or Observation Point and Valley of the Goblins.

Goblin Valley State Park is located approximately 215 miles from Salt Lake City UT, 50 miles from Green River UT, and 400 miles from Denver.

Contact Information

Goblin Valley State Park
c/o Green River State Park
P.O. Box 637
Green River, UT 84525-0637

435.275.4584 - main line
801.322.3770 - camping reservations
800.322-3770 - toll-free camping reservations

Utah State Parks and Recreation
PO Box 146001
Salt Lake City, UT 84114-601

Bureau of Land Management
125 S. 600 W.
Price, UT 84501

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