Goblin Valley State Park and Little Wildhorse Slot Canyon

 

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Little Wildhorse Canyon to Bell Canyon

I was looking for a slot canyon to explore along our drive between Capitol Reef to Moab, that was kid-friendly. Little Wildhorse Canyon was given good reviews and did not disappoint.

A slot canyon at Little Wildhorse Canyon, Utah

A slot canyon at Little Wildhorse Canyon, Utah

 

The complete lollipop loop of Little Wildhorse to Bell Canyon is 8 miles return. If you prefer to only go to Little Wildhorse as an out-and-back trail, then the hike can be 6 miles return. Being one who is constantly looking for new places to explore, we had planned to do the entire 8 mile loop on that Sunday morning. The hike started in a wash. We came to our first small section of slot about ½ mile in. That part required hopping into a large (maybe 4 foot deep) pothole (that was dry) and climbing out. Beyond this little obstacle, we walked into a very short ascending slot, which was a taste of things to come. After this short slot, we realized we were in a lowered part of the trail. Hopping out earlier meant a short 1-2 foot climb out of the depression. Waiting until the end meant having to hop out of a 5-6 foot depression. We hopped out earlier on.

Slot Canyon, LIttle Wildhorse Canyon, UT

Slot Canyon, LIttle Wildhorse Canyon, UT

 

Just beyond this section, there was a fork. There is a sign indicating Bell Canyon to the left. Little Wild Horse Canyon is to the right. There was no sign indicating direction for Little Wildhorse Canyon that I saw. On the day we went, there were many many families hiking Little Wildhorse Canyon, who happily showed us the way. I love Utah families. They hike in big groups with many kids and are always so friendly and helpful.

Narrow Slot, Little Wildhorse Canyon, Utah

Narrow Slot, Little Wildhorse Canyon, Utah

 

Here the slots began. Curves and colors made slots that were wide and small. Some slots we had to go through sideways. Others there was an alcove to fit five people to allow traffic from the opposite direction to pass. The slot canyons were broken into sections. We would hit some slots, then a wide section then another section of slots. We enjoyed about three or four sections of slots before we hit water. The first water section we encountered had rocks lining the bottom, so we graciously hopped our way along. We enjoyed some more curving sections before we hit our next water section.

Slightly wider slot, Little Wildhorse Canyon, Utah

Slightly wider slot, Little Wildhorse Canyon, Utah

 

This next water section, we had to turn around. It was ankle deep on my husband. My husband removed his shoes and socks to explore further to see if it was passable. It was passable, but he was stepping on the surrounding wall rock. It was passable for him but didn't think the kids could make it. The family behind us turned around. They spoke to an opposite direction hiker who said the water was much deeper further on. We had walked about 1.25 miles on the trail by that point. We all decided to turn around at that point and found a cozy lunch spot in an alcove overlooking a slot entrance.

 

During our hike, we encountered 3 areas where we needed to climb 4 to 6 feet of rocks but it was manageable. We turned around where the water was about ankle deep, since we didn't want our only shoes of the trip to be wet at the beginning of our hiking week and weren't willing

to go shoeless in muddy waters. We tried to enter Bell Canyon afterwards but quickly had to turn around due to water issues as well.  The trailhead for Little Wildhorse Canyon was a short drive (less than 30 minute) from the entrance of Goblin Valley.

 

Practical Information (as of April 2017):

Features: Beautiful curving slot canyons to explore, both wide and small

Our Hike: 2.5 miles rt due to water, usual loop Hike is 8 miles for entire Little Wildhorse to Bell Canyon loop

Fees: No Charge

Directions: From Hwy 24, follow directions to Goblin Valley entrance, then follow directions for Little Wildhorse Canyon (LWHC), LWHC trailhead is about 20 minute drive from Goblin entrance

Amenities: Vault toilet, small parking lot but large dirt overflow parking

 

The Valley of the Goblins

The kids loved The Valley of the Goblins. They described it as a playground. There were miles and miles of rocks shaped like mushroom-shaped rocks called goblins and goblin homes for the kids to explore. Near the edges of the park, there are towering rocks surrounding the rock goblins. Those made me a little more nervous than the short goblins. There were caves within these rocks that go straight down or directly up. Some rocks started falling as I stood underneath a cave, and I got myself out of there!

Valley of the Goblins, Utah

Valley of the Goblins, Utah

Valley of the Goblins, Utah

 

There was a hike I wanted to do here called Goblin's Lair but we couldn't seem to find the trailhead, unfortunately. So we just explored the large field of goblin rocks and the towering rocks on the edge for a few hours.

 

Taller (younger) goblins, Valley of the Goblins, Utah

Taller (younger) goblins around the edge of the valley, Valley of the Goblins, Utah

Taller (younger) goblins, Valley of the Goblins, Utah

 

Practical Information (as of April 2017):

Features: Goblin shaped rocks that go on for miles and miles, surrounded by a taller, towering soon-to-be goblin rocks

Fees: $13 State Park Fees

Directions: Approximately 216 miles southeast of Salt Lake City. 24 miles south of I-70 on Highway 24, turn at Temple Mountain junction, follow signs 12 miles to park. 20 miles north of the town of Hanksville on Highway 24, turn at Temple Mountain junction, follow signs 12 miles to park.

Amenities: picnic tables, parking, vault toilet

Website: Valley of the Goblins

 

Warning: The safety of these adventures are dependent on a variety of factors including but not limited to: terrain, weather, wildlife, hiker skill level, human error, and other foreseen and unforeseen circumstances. Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information provided at the time of publication, we do not assume any liability for the accuracy and completeness of the information provided.  As such, we will not be held responsible for any harm, injury, and/or loss that may result. Your personal judgement on the safety of each adventure is required at all times. Please use your own discretion and be safe.

 

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