If you find yourself in Southeast Utah, be sure to stop by Goosenecks State Park for an incredible view of geology that you won't find anywhere else. Also called the Great Goosenecks of the San Juan River, Geologists consider this part of the river to be one of the finest examples of "entrenched meanders" anywhere in the world.
One of the main draws of Goosenecks State Park is its unique geology. The park is located in a deep, narrow canyon carved by the San Juan River over millions of years. As the river winds its way through the canyon, it creates a series of tight hairpin turns known as goosenecks.
From the overlook at the park, you can see several of these goosenecks stacked on top of each other, creating a stunning visual display. The layers of rock and sediment exposed in the canyon walls are beautiful, with shades of red, orange, and brown blending together to create a beautiful natural palette.
The meandering pattern emerged several million years ago when the river was flowing on a relatively flat plain. As the Colorado Plateau slowly began to uplift, these meanders became entrenched. As the river continued to flow its regular pattern it created the now 1,000 foot deep canyon. The process continues today as the San Juan continues to cut deeper into the plateau.
While it is not a full day destination, it is definitely work stopping by, especially if you find yourself in the town of Bluff, exploring Monument Valley or driving through the Valley of the Gods. The park is located about 25 miles from the town of Bluff, and the road to the overlook is a little narrow and winding. RVs and trailers should proceed with caution and be prepared for some steep grades and sharp turns.
While the main attraction at Goosenecks State Park is the view from the overlook, you can also camp in the park. It is $5 dollars admission per car load to the park and $10 if you plan to camp. It is also great for photography, especially sunrise and sunset. While there are no official hiking trails, there is definitely a lot of hiking and exploring that can be done along the rim. However, take care, as it is a steep drop off, which unfortunately has resulted in accidents in the past. You can find current conditions and more information about Goosenecks State Park here.
The park is open year-round, but the best time to visit is in the spring or fall, when temperatures are mild and the crowds are thinner. Summer can be brutally hot, and there aren't many trees or much shade in the park, so come prepared with plenty of water and shade if you plan to camp here in the summer. While winters tend to be more mild in Southern Utah as opposed to Norther Utah, winter can still bring snow and icy conditions.
In conclusion, Goosenecks state park is a great side trip when visiting some of the great destinations in Southeast Utah like Monument Valley, Bluff, Valley of the Gods or Bears Ears National Monument. If you found this article helpful, consider signing up for our e-mail list (simply go to the top of page and click subscribe - it's free!) to get the latest adventure posts. You can also sign up to be a member here to share your comments at the bottom of each post and in the forum - we'd love to hear what you think about cross country skiing at Granite Flats in American Fork Canyon. Most importantly don't forget to get outside and find your adventure!