If you’re on a mission to get out and enjoy a little nature without the crowds, here’s everything you need to know to visit Goosenecks State Park in Utah.
It’s on our list of Utah State Parks because of the stunning view you’ll see plus many travelers don’t know about it!
And while Goosenecks State Park may not be a destination of its own for many travelers, it’s only 30 miles from Monument Valley, making it an easy and worthwhile detour if you’re already in the area.
Keep reading so you know what to expect when you plan a trip to Goosenecks State Park in Utah: why you should visit, things to do, where to stay, what to pack and other things to do in the area!
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Why Visit Goosenecks State Park?
This park is home to the San Juan River, which has slowly eroded this incredible canyon over the last 300 million years into the natural wonder it is today. The river sits 1,000 feet below the plateau, making it a dramatic sight to see the carved canyons that look like goose necks.
Goosenecks State Park is an excellent spot to soak up some stunning views, practice your photography, and admire nature’s beauty without tons of tourists.
You won’t find views like this in many places. It’s worth a quick visit for the view alone – which is a good thing, because there aren’t a ton of different activities or amenities to be found in this remote park.
Another great reason to visit Goosenecks State Park? It’s one of the places to visit in Utah that isn’t well-known, so it’s a great spot to escape the crowds that tend to overwhelm many of the Utah National Parks throughout peak tourist season. If you’re sick of struggling to snap a photo without someone walking through your frame, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you find at Goosenecks State Park.
Best Things to Do at Goosenecks State Park
While amenities and activities are limited at Goosenecks State Park, there are definitely things to see and do there!
From camping and picnicking to practicing your photography skills, here are a few of the ways you can enjoy your time at Goosenecks State Park.
Photography at Goosenecks State Park
Thanks to the stunning natural landscape and a lack of tourists, Goosenecks State Park is an excellent place to practice your photography skills and capture some truly breathtaking images of its namesake goosenecks – the horseshoe-shaped curves the river has carved out of the rocks.
You’ll find the best opportunities for photography at sunrise and sunset, when the light softens and shadows start to play across the canyon. If you aren’t planning to stay in the area overnight, be sure to time your trip properly so you can view the canyon under the best possible conditions. In the right light, you’ll be amazed to see just how much color and depth you can pull out of this desert landscape.
Camping at Goosenecks State Park
If you enjoy camping, you’ll want to consider setting up your tent and enjoying a night by the campfire in Goosenecks State Park.
You can choose from eight different campsites at Goosenecks State Park, situated along the rim of the canyon. All campsites are first come, first served – no reservations accepted. If there’s no ranger on duty, pay using the self serve envelopes.
You’ll find fire rings, picnic tables, and a few vault toilets, but beyond that, there aren’t many amenities or modern conveniences in the area. Bring your own firewood and water.
Stargazing at Goosenecks State Park
Love to gaze at the night sky? It doesn’t get much better than stargazing at Goosenecks State Park.
As a designated International Dark Sky Park, Goosenecks State Park meets very high standards and ensures low levels of light pollution. Once the sun sets, you’ll have unparalleled views of the night sky above, as long as there aren’t any clouds!
While you’ll be able to see plenty of stars – and maybe even a comet or two – with the naked eye, you can pack a telescope to admire some of the night sky’s most impressive celestial bodies. And if you enjoy photography, this is a great spot to practice your nighttime photography skills and capture some incredible night sky photographs.
Picnic at Goosenecks State Park
There are a number of different picnic spots you can enjoy at Goosenecks State Park, and there aren’t a ton of nearby towns to grab a bite – so why not pack your own lunch?
Bring some healthy road trip food, drinks, and a picnic blanket and find a spot to sit down and enjoy a meal – or find a picnic table at one of the park’s designated camping areas.
Hiking at Goosenecks State Park
Unlike many of Utah’s other state parks, there aren’t any official trails at Goosenecks State Park to hike. However, it’s a great spot to get out of the car, stretch your legs for a bit, and explore. You can – and should – check out the area near the canyon’s edge, but be warned. There are no guardrails in many places, so you’ll want to be careful and keep an especially close eye on children.
Look around, and you’ll find a small path between two rock walls to venture down toward the canyon. If you’re feeling brave – and wearing the appropriate footwear – you can scramble down the boulders until it gets too steep.
What to Do Near Goosenecks State Park
Once you’re finished exploring Goosenecks State Park, make a plan to enjoy some of the other attractions nearby! Monument Valley is only 30 miles away and well worth the trip. Known for its famous sandstone buttes rising out of the landscape, you can experience the best this park has to offer on the 17-mile Valley Drive.
You can also check out one of the nearby towns: Mexican Hat and Bluff. Named after a clever rock formation, Mexican Hat is a small town that offers a few amenities, including a gas station, a handful of restaurants, some motels, and camping areas. Bluff is similar, boasting places to stay and options for dining, and hosts a few festivals throughout the year, like the Bluff Arts Festival in the fall and a hot air balloon festival at the start of the year.
Utah Vacation Ideas
- Utah Bucket List – FREE printable
- Best Time to Visit Utah
- Utah National Parks
- Utah State Parks
- Tours in Utah