On our way to Bryce Canyon, we spotted Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park on a regional Utah map in a diner. It wasn’t too far out of our way and we debated on whether it was worth it. I rationalized the decision by asking, “Who has ever heard of a bunch of sand dunes in the middle of Utah? Aren’t those usually near a beach?” Utah is a land-locked state and to have a bunch of sand dunes sprouting up in the middle of nowhere was intriguing. We decided to be spontaneous and go investigate.
There was quite a bit of snow out there and I was worried we probably wouldn’t be able to see any dunes because they would be buried under the snow. Luck was on our side that day and lo and behold, we were able to see the dunes.
Now why are there a bunch of sand dunes in Utah? According to Wikipedia, the park is surrounded by pink-colored Navajo sandstone. The sandstone has been eroding over thousands of years and therefore, all this pink sand has been accumulating for quite awhile. Add in the wind, rain, and other elements and you’ve got yourself a bunch of pink sand dunes. I’m sure the answer might be more complicated than that but I’m not a geologist.
I like sand dunes, mostly because I have such fond memories of family trips to the Great Dune of Pilat in southwestern France. Walking on sand is quite the workout though and my muscles were sore after we climbed one of the main sand dunes. I then proceeded to gleefully run down it like a six year old child.
As you can see by this next picture, there was snow up in the mountains surrounding the dunes. When we entered the park, there was quite a lot of snow with pink sand peeking through.
As we left the sand dunes, we noticed there were thousands of animal tracks near the plants. It turns out the animals come out at night to play while the humans are sleeping. One of the best times to visit the dunes is at sunrise because there is a better chance of catching a glimpse of some of these animals. Seeing as how you would need to drag me kicking and screaming out of bed before 10 AM, this is not something we chose to do.
The following picture emulates solid rock, but it’s actually sand. This made me do a double take because for a second I really thought a huge boulder had plopped itself in the middle of all the sand. And then I’m pretty sure I managed to get a picture of snake tracks. You may disagree with this assessment, but what other animal would form a long continuous track like that in the sand? We didn’t actually see the snake (and while I don’t typically freak out when I see snakes, I don’t need to snuggle and get into bed with them at night either).
The one drawback to visiting the sand dunes meant we tracked the sand back into our rental car. Oh well. Small price to pay to run around in the sand and feel like a kid again.