How The Dunes Were Formed
The Coral Pink Dunes were formed by a natural phenomenon called the Venturi Effect.
As wind blows through the notch between the Moquith and Moccasin mountains into the open valley, its velocity increases so much that it can pick up grains of sand from the eroding Navajo sandstone the same sandstone that created much of Utahs majestic red rock country. Then as the wind travels over the valley floor, its velocity decreases and the sand is deposited. Over time, this created the massive dune field that exists today.
Other Activities At Coral Pink Sand Dunes
Now, if you want a little more action than hiking, sledding and boarding the dunes, there is plenty of area for ATVS. Bring your own, and leave directly from the campsite and park. Don’t have your own? There are plenty of rentals in the area and tours. My hubby loves this kind of stuff and we contemplated doing it, but decided against it this time, but it will happen next time!
The photo below is the dunes at sunset. This was the first time we really saw them as coral pink. During the day, they are definitely more orange, as shown in the photos above.
Here are our family Lego mini figs who make every trip with us. Well, this is our family, plus one for my son’s friend who also came.
So, just to wrap it up, this area should make your list soon. It was beautiful. It is a trip we will make again. It is an area most people will enjoy. So get out there and enjoy this amazing area!
Activities And Guided Tours
All of the dunes are open for hiking and kid-friendly playing. You can rent sand boards and sand sleds onsite. About 90-percent of the dunes are open for off-highway vehicles , a popular park attraction. Four-wheelers generally check out the Sand Highway, which is a one-way narrow trail in a small canyon on the boundary of the dunes, and the South Boundary Trail, which is several miles long and continues along the eastern side of the main dune area. Guided tours are available from All Ways Adventures and Coral Pink ATV Tours. The park features two campgrounds with hot showers and flush toilets and there are two RV dump stations. Advance camping reservations are recommended.
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How Much Does Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park Cost
Day use entry to Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park is $10 per vehicle or $5 for Utah seniors 65 and older. Entry includes use of the sand dunes all day but does not include hiring of equipment.
Its well worth spending $10 for a few action packed hours of fun.
The park is open from sunrise to sunset daily. Just make sure you display your ticket on the windshield of your car throughout your time in the park.
Heres the Utah State Parks website for more information on fees and opening hours.
Are you a photographer or videographer visiting the dunes?
You can fly your drone over the sand dunes for a fee of just $5. Its rare to be able to fly drones in state parks so we took advantage and flew our Mavic Pro 2 after filling out the appropriate paperwork.
About Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Reserve
The park is a wonderful place to take pictures, play on the sand, take pictures and drive – with road vehicles. When you enter the dunes, you will be greeted by the sound of breaking waves and the smell of salt water in the air. The sand is coloured with waves, rusts and arches, with a bright pink colour similar to the colour of the ocean.This sand is Navajo sandstone from a geological period known as the Middle Jurassic. The geology of the sand dunes is a fascinating subject, and the park is an excellent place not to miss this unique geological feature.The same iron oxide minerals that make up this spectacular red-rock land are responsible for the coral-pink sand landscape, as well as the red sand itself.This unique influence is caused by notches in the Moquith and Moccasin Mountains, and this phenomenon is called the Venturi Affect. The wind blows from the north and increases its speed to the point where it can carry grains of sand, eroding the Navajo sandstone.When the wind blows through a notch in the open valley, its speed decreases, causing the sand to settle. The dunes are considered to be the largest dune system in North America and one of the most diverse. They support various insect populations, including only the coral pink tiger beetles that occur here. Melting snow often creates small ponds that feed amphibians such as salamanders and toads.
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Zion National Park To Coral Pink Sand Dunes
Driving from Zion National Park main visitor center in Springdale to Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park visitor center is 40 miles and will take around 1 hour 15 minutes.
The drive time is so long because getting out of Zion via the Zion Mt Carmel tunnel and highway is slow going. Plus, the winding roads have a 40mph speed limit until you leave the park boundary.
Take UT-9 out of Zion, turn right at Mt Carmel Junction onto highway 89 and take another right turn onto UT-43, which is also known as Sand Dunes rd.
Follow Sand Dunes rd for 11 miles until you turn left into the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park visitor center parking lot.
What Do You Wear To Coral Pink Sand Dunes
You are going to be covered head to toe in sand when you visit Coral Pink Sand Dunes. Wear old, comfortable and loose fitting clothes with flip flops or an old pair of running shoes.
Weather will play a role in what you wear during your visit. If its baking hot, you might want to wear very light and breathable long pants and shirts to prevent sunburn.
Sun hats, sunglasses and sunscreen should go without saying on a trip to Southern Utah no matter the season. Even in December we had to go heavy on the sunscreen.
You dont need to worry about wearing long layers to prevent sand burn. We hit the sand hard plenty of times and didnt come away with any type of friction burn.
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Overview Of Using Off
As mentioned, I dont own an OHV. But that is a big element of people who visit Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. There are 1,200 acres of open riding area. But there are also regulations you must follow to keep you and others safe:
- All operators must have a valid drivers license.
- Riders 17 and under MUST wear a helmet. I encourage EVERYONE wear a helmet and protective gear.
- Every vehicle must have an orange whiptail flag.
- Check in at the Visitors Center to know where you can and cant ride.
Bigfoot At Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park
You might be wondering why we keep referring to Bigfoot?
Well, one thing you cant miss on your visit to Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park is hunting down the location of a Bigfoot statue.
Park rangers periodically move the location of Bigfoot, which keeps things interesting because guides like ours cant give anything away.
In truth, we didnt know the statue existed until we got back to the visitor center in late afternoon after hours of sandboarding and weathering.
Trying to find Bigfoot is a great way to combine hiking with a bit more of a purpose in a place like Coral Pink Sand Dunes. Otherwise, youre just wandering without a goal.
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Preparing To Explore The Coral Pink Sand Dunes
Our mistake was walking out on the sand dunes in shoes and without water. Our error required us to walk back to the van to dump out a sandbox-load of sand from our socks and shoes. We opted to go barefoot, which worked out once we got across the black parking lot.
I grabbed a backpack and threw in a few bottles of water. We we needed something to rinse our mouths out and face off after crashing on the sled. The wind was blowing sand everywhere, so Im sure we ate our share of sand, too.
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Heres a summary of specific tips to help you not fall victim to our mistakes.
Coral Pink Sand Dunes Sandboarding
Sandboarding and sledding down tall sand dunes is one of the major draws for Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. You have complete freedom of the dunes with your sandboard and you can stay out for as long as you have energy.
We can tell you from experience that you will run out of energy quicker than you might imagine.
Sliding down sand dunes on a sandboard or sled is a huge amount of fun. But climbing back up steep and deep sand dunes is seriously hard work, especially if the sun is beating down upon southern Utah.
Visit Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park In Utah
Sand dunes are great. But since I dont own an off-highway vehicle or all-terrain vehicle , I wasnt sure I would enjoy a visit to the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park near Kanab, Utah. After spending a few hours hiking the dunes, sledding the slopes and photographing the landscape, I discovered a spot thats great for families. Even those without OHVs.
Heres a rundown of tips to help you prepare for and enjoy your non-OHV experience on the sand dunes. We made a few mistakes, so these tips are organized from first-hand experience.
Exploring The Coral Pink Dunes
Eventually we gave up and wandered up the boardwalk to the observation deck to take in a panoramic view of the dunes. The pink and orange dunes surrounded by steep cliffs, juniper and pinyon pines, and blue summer skies were breathtaking and the giant dune dominating the landscape was calling our names.
Carter wanted to reach the top of that dune and it didnt look too far away, so we all followed him into the dune field. OMG. It may not have looked very far away but it was so far away. It was HOT and exhausting traipsing through the lose sand. We had a destination though, so we were determined to get there. Brian and I waited at the base of the behemoth dune, as Carter and Natalie climbed to the top and ran down it. After that, Natalie was wiped out, so she stayed with us as we watched Carter do it several more times and watched other people sled down the dune on sandboards.
Honestly, I was tired just watching him! I have no idea where he gets his energy!
Eventually, Carter was tired, sweaty, and ready to head back. Thats when we all turned around and realized we had to hike through the dunes again. By the time we reached the parking lot, I was a sweaty mess with burning calves.
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Hiking Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park
Coral Pink Sand Dunes is an enormous and wide open landscape and you are permitted to hike anywhere you like. There are no designated trails to follow, simply forge your own path through a sea of sand.
If you intend to hike here, you need to be aware of two things:
Planning Your Coral Pink Sand Dunes Blm Trip
Whenever you visit the Coral Pink Sand Dunes, be sure to pack for the weather accordingly. These dunes offer little to no shade, so wearing light clothing and packing sunscreen may be a good idea. The summer in the dunes can be quite hot compared to the spring and fall, too, so when you visit in the summertime, be sure to bring lots of drinking water to stay cool.
If you’re going to stay at a Bureau of Land Management campgrounds, be sure to pack supplies like water for drinking and washing and batteries for battery-operated equipment. Remember, you’ll likely be staying in a primitive campground, but you’ll be getting closer than ever to the dunes and surrounding area. Before you head out on your trip, check out our blog for all you need to know about BLM camping.
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Directions To The Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park Plan Your Coral Pink Sand Dunes Vacation With Our Utah Maps And Information
Coral Pink Sand Dunes from Zion National Park From Zion National Park. Exit Zion Park through the east entrance and drive 12 miles to the & US-89. This is Mount Carmel Junction. Turn south on US-89. Turn-off to the sand dunes 3 miles from Mt. Carmel Junction. Follow Yellow Jacket road for 8 miles to the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. Lodging for Coral Pink Sand Dunes
Coral Pink Sand Dunes from Utah Highway 59 & Arizona 389 From Hurricane, Utah take Utah 59 to Arizona 389 just past Colorado City look for the road leading to the Coral Pink Sand Dunes. It will come out 3 miles from Mt. Carmel Junction, Utah. Do not travel through the dunes when it’s been raining or the roads are wet from snow.Coral Pink Sand Dunes through Fredonia, Arizona From Hurricane, Utah take Utah 59 to Arizona 389 and travel to Fredonia, Arizona, then to Kanab, Utah. Drive on US Highway toward Mt. Carmel Junction, turning at the signed entranced to the Coral Pink Sand Dunes.
How To Get Tocoral Pink Sand Dunes State Park
If you’re in Kanab, you must go north before going south to reach this park. Start by going north on U.S. 89 until you get to Hancock Road. Turn left on Hancock Road and continue in a southwesterly direction for about 9.4 miles until you reach Coral Pink Sands Dune Road. After you turn right on this road, the park will appear in about 2 miles.
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Camping Coral Pink Sand Dunes
Closest Services – Mount Carmel Junction is the closest services area, and is located along US-89. Lodging, RV parks, dining and shopping are all available. map Kanab is also nearby and has all services.
Campground – A 22 unit campground with pull-through parking, picnic tables and barbecue grills are offered at the dunes. The campground is well maintained and even offers toilets and hot showers. This is a rare thing in any of the parks in this area. There are 5 picnic sites with barbecue grills and picnic tables on concrete pads at the dunes and facilities for large groups. ATV users frequent the campground. Groups often come to the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park for outdoor recreation and the campground can accommodate group needs. Reservations are suggested and can be made by calling toll free: 1.800.322.3770 from 8am to 5pm – Monday through Friday.
Camping Near You Find A Free Campsite
Whether you just need to know where to camp nearby or you want to plan a free camping road trip, we’ve got you covered. You can simply use your smart phone’s GPS to find camping near you or even use our trip planner to plan your route from coast to coast.
Our community provides the best free camping information available. Free campgrounds can be hard to find. Freecampsites.net makes it easy. We give you a simple, map based search engine to find free and cheap camping areas. Community reviews and ratings provide you with up to date information and help you select the best camp site for your next camping trip.
This is a platform for sharing campgrounds and camp sites you have discovered. We are community driven, and while we will be adding many free camping spots, we hope that you will add some of your favorite camping places as well. By sharing camping information freely, we can all spend less time researching campgrounds, spend less money, and more time camping. If everyone contributes a few campsites, we’ll all have more places to go camping.
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