Southern Dinos and Goblins
From fossils and petroglyphs to slot canyons and goblins, you’ll have four days of “oohs” and “ahhs” for the whole adventuring family.
Start: Salt Lake City
It's typically under 4 hours to the entrance to Arches National Park and the Moab area. By the time you land at Goblin Valley State Park on day 4, you'll be within 4 hours of Salt Lake again. If you can, consider planning a day at the beginning or end of your trip to explore Salt Lake, including a visit to the Natural History Museum of Utah to help you make sense of it all.
You could build a whole trip out of Utah's dinosaur and rock art sites. This time, we're sticking to Southern Utah. If you've spent a day exploring Salt Lake, day two drops you into the epicenter of adventure in Moab. Roar up steep slickrock to rarely seen overlooks on a Hummer tour. Just outside of town, scramble to the base of the behemoth Wilson Arch — the most accessible arch for small kids. Roam the dinosaur trail where life-size statues of massive Mesozoic monsters stand frozen in time for children to ogle.
Day three is for your history hounds. Visit Newspaper Rock in the Indian Creek unit of Bears Ears National Monument where hundreds of well-preserved petroglyphs share the 2,000-year-old news. Explore the artifacts of Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum in Blanding then live like the pioneers who settled this once-barren area at Bluff Fort. Wander through an eclectic mid-century home carved into the side of a cliff at Hole N” the Rock.
Day four takes you to another easily accessible panel of petroglyphs in Sand Island where you can also play on the sandy beaches of the San Juan River. Next, head for the entertaining Goulding's Lodge and sweeping panorama of Monument Valley. Jump in a Jeep with a Navajo tour guide at Monument Valley and learn about Navajo culture and the area's incredible history.
Your final day takes you to Natural Bridges National Monument, where stone bridges delicately hang between cliffs, or to Goblin Valley State Park, a magical place where kids and kids-at-heart can climb on and around goblin-like pillars of sandstone. Top it off with a scamper through Little Wild Horse Canyon, a playful, but not overly technical, slot canyon that can make everyone in the family feel like a kid again.
Canyonlands Mesa Arch Hike
Mesa Arch is a perfect trail for beginners, families with small children or light hikers, and one of Canyonlands National Park's most iconic vistas.
Delicate Arch Trail
If you’ve ever seen a postcard or poster of Arches National Park, you’ve probably seen Delicate Arch. This amazing arch has become the symbol of Arches National Park, which is somewhat surprising because it is barely visible from the road.
Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum
Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum in Blanding, Utah, is the site of a prehistoric Native American village. Explore history here!
Goosenecks State Park
Located north of Mexican Hat, Goosenecks State Park is an easy-to-get-to area with a million-dollar view. The San Juan River begins in the mountains of Colorado and travels to its junction with the Colorado River at Lake Powell.
Valley of the Gods
Perhaps one of the most intriguing names of all of the destinations in San Juan County is the Valley of the Gods. This special area, located nearby Bears Ears National Monument and Mexican Hat, Utah, attracts individuals looking for idyllic sandstone structures.
Wilson Arch is an elegant sandstone feature that sits along Highway 191 south of Moab on BLM land. The short hike is free.