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Goblin Valley State Park

Goblin Valley is filled with the sandstone figures, looking like toadstools, towers, or, perhaps, goblins. Alternately called hoodoos, the goblins are formed of soft stone and are constantly changing with the erosion of the wind and water.  It’s fun to wander among them or clamber up them, and they make for some pretty cool photos.

Aliciya on Top

One popular activity at Goblin Valley is nighttime hide-and-seek using flashlights.

The campground at Goblin Valley is small, but try to get one of the sites that are a bit apart from the others.  They sit back between rock fins, so you have some privacy. For a bit more cash, you can stay in one of the two yurts at the campground. We have stayed in real Kyrgyz yurts in Kyrgyzstan, so we didn’t feel the need to do it again in Utah.

Here’s a view of our campsite from back in and up one of the fins.

At 57 miles, or an hour and a quarter, Goblin Valley makes a good alternative for camping after exploring Capitol Reef, just make sure you save time for the State Park, too.

Alex among the goblins

You can get more information from the Utah State website. I also came across this excellent blog post.

Aliciya and Christy
And Tatyana
With all my girls (one’s behind the camera, though)

On our last trip, we stayed in Coral Pink Sand Dunes, and then visited Bryce on our way to Goblin Valley, skipping Capital Reef and Kodachrome.  That makes for a longer day in the car, but also means camping in two State Parks with hot showers.  When I go again, I’ll camp in Kodachrome Basin. 

Capitol Reef National Park

We have not spent much time in Capitol Reef — mostly we’ve just passed through. Still, it is a beautiful area and no doubt rewarding if you have the time.

Another, very different, view of the area. The park is named for the white “capitol” domes, one of which is visible here.

This National Park is only 2 3/4 hours from Bryce Canyon if you drive through Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument, as you should (the quicker route, through Widtsoe, Antimony, and Angle, only saves you about 20 minutes). 

Aliciya Enjoying the Wonder of Red Dirt

Also, if you are moving at a leisurely pace, you might consider stopping at Escalante Petrified Forest State Park for a picnic, hike through the petrified forest, or to overnight (there is also swimming and boating on the nearby 130-acre Wide Hollow Reservoir).

Classic Capitol Reef Landscape

There is a developed campground in Capitol Reef, as well as two primitive campgrounds. Camping is also allowed elsewhere in the park with a permit which can be obtained at the visitor’s center. Or, you can continue on to Goblin Valley State Park.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon is another premiere destination, but our time here has always been limited to a driving trip to the various overlooks from which you can see the bulk of the formations.  I’m certain there are rewarding opportunities for hiking in the park, but we have always been more attracted to other destinations. Nonetheless, it is a beautiful place to just take in the view, and it’s only an hour and a half (75 miles) from Coral Pink Sand Dunes if you take the most direct route.  However, there is also a longer route (101 miles and 3.5 hours) through Grand Staircase – Escalante National Park. If you skip Coral Pink Sand Dunes, you can go directly from Zion’s to Bryce in only about two hours (85 miles). Kodachrome Basin State Park, only about 35 minutes from the visitor center, might be a good place to camp.

Route to Bryce, from either Coral Pink Sand Dunes or Kodachrome Basin.

The National Parks Service maintains a website for the park. There are two campgrounds in the park with 199 camp sites between them.

Your next stop is Capitol Reef National Park.

At the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the Ambassador of Poland

“They discussed issues of mutual interest” is diplospeak for, “and we ain’t tellin’ you what we talked about.”

Kodachrome Basin State Park

I’ve never been here, but it is quite well known, and probably a great alternative for camping near Bryce Canyon National Park and it’s reportedly worth the side trip, in itself.

In poor weather, this is a better route

Read my post on Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument for directions through that monument to Kodachrome. That trip does involve a dirt road. The route in the map above would be better for those in a sedan or in stormy weather. It also passes by Bryce Canyon National Park, so if you are in a hurry, you could stop by that park on the way to Kodachrome, instead of the next day.

The State of Utah has a website with a bit of info on the park. You can actually find more at the wikipedia page. Campsites are reserved at

On to: Bryce Canyon National Park

Kuwait Times Reporting on a Meeting Ambassador Silverman and I had with Minister of Interior Sheikh Khaled Al-Jarrah Al-Sabah

Here’s the link to the original article.

Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument

I’ve traveled near and even through the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, but I’ve never had time to really explore it. For that reason, I’ll keep this post short, as a place holder for sometime when I get back.

The Monument was declared by President Bill Clinton in 1996 and originally designated an area of some 4,730 square miles in Southern Utah. However, in 2017 President Donald Trump ordered that its size be reduced to almost half that, at 2,524 square miles. The original extension of the monument made it the largest in the lower 48 (Misty Fjords, in Alaska, as well as five marine monuments, are larger).

On this map (original found on Wikipedia), the current extension of the monument is shown as the shaded green area, while all the area inside the green borders made up the original monument.

If you follow the itinerary I have suggested, you will enter land which was in the original designation of the Monument some 15 miles down U.S. 89 from Kanab. After passing The Toadstools, you will turn to the north up Cottonwood Road (Road 400 – it is a dirt road, but not too rough going, usually). By the time you get to the Parts Box Trailhead, you are in the current Monument, and you will be in the Monument most of the way to Kodachrome Basin. Make sure you don’t miss the turnoff to the famed “double arch,” Grosvenor Arch.

This is the route I recommend. However, if you want to skip the dirt road through Grand Staircase, see the page on Kodachrome Basin for the alternative route.

You will also pass through land which was in the original designation, but is no longer in the Monument for most of the way from Bryce Canyon National Park to the City of Escalante. From Escalante, I recommend you continue on Rt. 12 which will take you through the current Monument to Boulder City.

If you make this trip, you should have some basis for forming an opinion as to how large the Monument should be.

Here’s a link to Utah State’s website on Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and here is the Official BLM Site for the Monument, though it has not been fully updated to take into account President Trump’s proclamation.

On to: Kodachrome Basin State Park

Coral Pink Sand Dunes

This is a less-known site, but one of our favorites. The coloration of the sand dunes makes them beautiful and the hot showers in the campground make the stay that much more pleasant.  This is a major destination for ATV enthusiasts.  For those looking for peace and quiet, weekdays are the better bet.  This Utah State Park is only about an hour (40 miles) from the visitor center at Zion’s. It is close to the route I am describing both on the outbound side and on the return, so you could easily add it to either end of the trip, or, in fact, stay there twice.

Route from the Zion NP Visitor Center to Coral Pink Sand Dunes SP
Tatyana with Aliciya, 2006

The State Parks in Utah allow reservations, about three months in advance. If you can’t get into the State Park, there are two Bureau of Land Management campgrounds nearby.  I haven’t visited them, but understand that they are more rustic, but also very cheap.

Our Campsite in 2016

The State of Utah has a website for the park, with a video that’s worth watching (and not much else). You can make camping reservations at, and that site has a lot more information on the park, itself.

The coloration of the sand varies quite a bit according to light conditions
Distant storm clouds really bring out the orange colors
This is in the morning after rain

On to: Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument

Zion National Park

View of the Temple of Sinawava

Zion is one of the gems of the National Park system (in fact, all six of the National Parks included in this itinerary should be considered among the gems).  The Visitor Center is only about 2 hours and 45 minutes (164 miles) from the center of Las Vegas. During popular times of the year, the park is crowded, and destinations within the park are now mostly reachable only by park transportation.

The route from Las Vegas to Zion NP is pretty simple. North on I-15 until you see the signs.

I won’t spend many pixels describing Zion. Lots of others have done much more, in print and on the web, than I can do here. I’ll limit myself here to sharing a few photos and one link: JOE’S GUIDE TO ZION NATIONAL PARK.

On to: Coral Pink Sand Dunes

Meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

I will, very diplomatically, make no comment regarding Facebook’s translation of my name from Arabic.