Originally, this was not on our travel itinerary – instead, we had planned to do the 47 mile stretch of the Cottonwood Canyon Road from Bryce Canyon through the Grand Escalante Staircase. The weather, though, suggested that we should consider alternative routes, so we headed back onto the Scenic Byway #12, through Red Canyon, and further down to the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park.
„Dunes, what dunes?“ muttered T. driving through this landscape. The ubiquitous red sand was there, allright, but nothing seemed to indicate dunes.
All of a sudden, we saw them. Not as impressive as imagined, not as many as we had hoped for, not as pink as the name suggests, but still…
The park is open all year and has a campground. The entrance fee is 6 Dollars, to be paid by self-service if no ranger is at the entrance booth. Outside the state park there is another campground, mostly used by people with ATVs, who cruise the non-state-park part of the dunes with their quads.
At the entrance to the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park you’ll find a short (approx. 45 minutes) trail with several exhibits of the local rare and endemic vegetation, which is quite interesting, plus some (of course) geological information covering the development of these dunes and the geological context of the area. The dunes are formed from the erosion of pink-colored Navajo sandstone surrounding the park. High winds passing through the notch between the Moquith and Moccasin Mountains pick up loose sand particles and then drop them onto the dunes. The dunes are estimated to be between 10,000 and 15,000 years old. There is a conservation area of 265 acres (1.07 km2), and the total grounds include 3,370 acres (13.6 km2). It was established as a Utah state park in 1963.
Not a must-see, but if you have some time to spend, this makes a nice stop.
Same plant, dry and green / in bloom:
And a final look back: