The state of Utah boasts more than 40 different state parks, and Goosenecks State Park is one of its most unique.
This state park is made up of a winding river and the series of canyons it has formed. The official description for this type of natural formation is an “entrenched river meander”. Besides the unusual formations and beautiful view, Goosenecks State Park also has areas for camping, picnics, and photography. This rugged desert vista is a great place for relaxing while taking in some truly amazing views.
Since the park has been left relatively untouched by man-made developments, there is no light pollution blocking your view of the stars above, if you are able to visit at night. There are more stars in the sky than you may realize!
The Unique Landscape at Goosenecks State Park
The “Goosenecks” are the long, narrow strips of canyon wall that tower above the winding river below. This unique array forms an oddly-symmetrical pattern rarely seen in nature. If you look at them from the right angle with a little imagination, you can see how the long strips resemble a goose’s neck. Look closer, and you can see the many layers of rock that have been worn away over time to create the beautiful lines that flow like the river below.
From the top of the goosenecks to the river below, the canyon is around 1000 feet deep.
Over many years of erosion and geological activity, the San Juan River has carved out this unique piece of southeastern Utah. The dramatic back-and-forth bending of the river is called a meander. Goosenecks State Park is one of the most distinct examples of "incised meanders" in the country.
Although the expanse is only about 1.5 miles as the crow flies, the river actually flows more than 6 miles within the park.
A visit to Goosenecks is worth the drive for the view alone. But once you get there, why not stay awhile and enjoy this unique destination? If you like spending time outdoors, there is plenty to do here.
Before you visit Goosenecks State Park, you should be aware of how much the natural landscape has been protected and maintained. There are few areas developed specifically for guest-use. Instead, visitors can soak up the beauty and fun of the state park in its most natural and authentic state.
There are designated picnic areas for having an outdoor lunch while you take in the scenery. If you’d like to stay overnight, there are 6 small camping areas available, including fire-rings. Campsites may not be reserved in advance, but are first-come-first-serve. An observation shelter also stands as protection from sun and rain if you need it.
Vault toilets are available, but there is no drinking water available, so make sure to pack some along!
While hiking is technically allowed, trails are not maintained or marked. Access to the river is not available within the state park. While there are many angles from which to explore and appreciate Goosenecks and the surrounding area, all visitors should be cautious about leaving designated visitor areas.
Goosenecks State Park is located at the end of UT-316 off of US 163 about 8 miles northwest of Mexican Hat, and 25 miles southwest of Bluff, Utah. The park is open year-round.
There is a required fee to enter Goosenecks State Park.
Day Use Fee per car (up to 8 people) = $5
Bus Tour Fee = $2/person
Camping = $10/night per campsite.
Entrance fees are paid to a park ranger upon arrival, or with the self-service fee tube if no ranger is on duty.
For more information on visiting Goosenecks State Park and other attractions in San Juan County, download one of our free travel guides.
There are endless things to do in Utah’s Canyon Country. Check out some of the other parks, activities, and attractions nearby. Make your trip monumental!