Located approximately 40 to 45 minutes Northeast of the famed Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park., Goosenecks State Park is a beautiful and relaxing place. Luckily, it’s not difficult to find or hard to get to, located only a mere 3 miles off Highway 163, which is the same highway you’ll find the famed “Forrest Gump Hill” Monument Valley photo-op. This is not a hiking spot, so don’t be prepared to hit boots to the dirt! It’s 100% an overlook spot. It’s a very quiet state park, since Highway 163 is not a major highway and you are deep within the middle of the Utahan desert. It’s a quick, 15-to-20-minute stop, but well worth it.
Established in 1962, the famed “goosenecks” began to be carved out millions of years ago during the Monument Upwarp and continue to erode to this day due to the San Juan River. Dubbed a “meandering river”, the mighty San Juan River is the main drainage for the 4 Corners Region (Four Corners National Monument.). Goosenecks covers 10 acres and has an elevation of 4,500 feet (1,400 meters), which allows you to look down into the canyon and enjoy the epic view.
The fee is currently $5 per car, and it’s open 24/7. Camping is available if you’d like to camp somewhere with tranquility and peace. It costs $10 per night, per campsite. However, “conditions are primitive” with only vault toilets available. It’s advised to bring your own firewood and water. Also – there are only 8 camping spots available. It’s “first come, first serve” and reservations are not allowed. We visited around 5pm on a Friday in the middle of May, and there appeared to be at least 4 or 5 spots occupied. Since it’s so close to Monument Valley and other area attractions, people may make it their home base, coming back only at night after a day of adventure. It’s something to be aware of if you plan on camping here.
As mentioned, this is not a hiking location. There are no hiking or biking trails at Goosenecks. There is the nearby 2.5-mile Honaker Trail, but it’s not located within the park. What you’ll find is sightseeing and photography opportunities, as well as star gazing. Goosenecks received the International Dark Sky Park designation in 2011 by The International Dark-Sky Association. It’s a pet friendly park; however, it can be extremely hot during the summer months and there is no shade available.
Overall, Goosenecks State Park is small, but impressive. It’s incredibly beautiful and serenely quiet, with a view down into the canyon that is breathtaking and will leave you mesmerized. It’s not a place where you are meant to spend hours, but rather, an easy and very doable stop on many Southwest roadies. Most people who visit Goosenecks do so on road trips, particularly those visiting Monument Valley, Valley of the Gods, or are making their way up to one of Utah’s “Big Five”. Whatever your travel plans are, Goosenecks State Park is well worth a stop!