Goblin Valley, Utah is one of the more remote state parks and is far from any of Utah’s major cities. The closest settlement to Goblin Valley State Park is Hanksville, a small town with a population of just over 200. Although Hanksville itself is about as insignificant as a town can get—Hanksville residents didn’t even have electricity until 1960—its location in the middle of the desert makes it a popular place for tourists to stay when visiting Goblin Valley, Lake Powell, and other remote attractions.
Hanksville is well-known for more than just its closeness to Goblin Valley; it is also home to the Mars Desert Research Station, the biggest Mars Society analog habitat and research facility. Founded in 1998, the Mars Society is a non-profit organization that provides research and public lobbying to support a future crewed mission to Mars. Prominent members include Apollo astronaut Buzz Aldrin and industrialist Elon Musk, who funded the research station in Hanksville.
If you’ve seen Goblin Valley and you’re looking for something else to do in the Hanksville area, we recommend heading out to Robbers Roost, a series of slot canyons famously used as a hideout by the Wild Bunch outlaw gang during the last years of the Old West. Founded in Robbers Roost by Butch Cassidy and Elzy Lay, the Wild Bunch was the most successful train-robbing gang in American history and was known for attempting to avoid any unnecessary bloodshed, although they did kill quite a few lawmen while they were active.
Other famous members of the gang included the Sundance Kid, “Flat Nose” George Curry, William “News” Carver, and the mysterious Etta Place. The Wild Bunch was famously portrayed in the 1969 Hollywood western Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and was also the real-life inspiration for the Van der Linde gang in the video game Red Dead Redemption 2.