Even though we spent the longest amount of time at our forth and final hike on day four (June 25th) of our family vacation to Utah, Arizona, and Nevada, it wasn’t really a hike at all. I would have been more than happy to walk to the observation deck at Coral Pink Sand Dunes, take in the grand view of the sprawling desert sand and call it a day, but nooo… everyone else had more adventuresome ideas in mind. 😉
We had decided to stay in Southern Utah for the day and the Kanab / Grand Staircase Escalante region provided plenty of opportunities for short hikes. Coral Pink Sand Dunes was one of several recommendations made by the park ranger we spoke to at the Kanab Visitor Center. As soon as our son Daniel learned that boards were available to rent for shredding the dunes, he was all in!
Utah’s State Parks
Coral Pink Sand Dunes is just one of Utah’s 43 beautiful state parks. The erosion of coral pink-colored Navajo Sandstone created the dunes which sprawl across 3,730 acres. With juniper covered cliffs as backdrops to the unusual desert dunes, the contrast is stunning.
Last summer, Bill and I visited another Utah State Park, Dead Horse Point, both during the day and at sunset. Additionally, we visited Bear Lake and quite possibly some of the other state parks when we lived in Utah during the early years of our marriage. Take one look at the photos of Goosenecks and you’ll understand why it’s on our bucket list for a future visit.
Arriving at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park
As we pulled into the entrance to the state park, we were greeted with a smile from the cutest little lady. When we asked, she confirmed that we could save the $10 park entrance fee by using our National Parks pass – a great perk when visiting Utah’s State Parks.
Our new friend was short with gray hair and happily told us all about the park and what we could do during our visit. She guided us toward parking and told us to come back if we had any questions.
Once the six of us piled out of the SUV, we walked up a concrete path to a large observation deck complete with a few rows of metal bleachers. From there, we had a fantastic view of the sand dunes sprawling in front of us.
Things to Do in Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park
There’s a wide variety of things to do while visiting the park and Bill immediately set out exploring with his camera in hand. Spread across the sand dunes were pretty yellow arnica flowers calling to be photographed.
In addition to hiking across the dunes, whether exploring in general or looking for the perfect image to capture, there are a variety of sand sports to take part in if you have the right equipment. Luckily for the unprepared tourist, the park visitor center has a variety of toys that can be rented.
Flexible sleds and sand boards are available for a very reasonable rental of $25 for several hours. Visitors can bring their own motor bikes, four-wheelers, and dune buggies or make arrangements to join a tour.
Also a visit to the park isn’t complete without stopping by the visitors center where there are displays of sand from around the world, exhibits of native plants and animals, and memorabilia to buy. There’s even a snake and if you ask nicely, the park ranger just might get it out and let you hold it.
Sand Board Rentals and Tutorials
After spending about two seconds thinking it over, Daniel decided to rent a sand board and give it a try. Always a great skier, skate boarder, and decent surfer, I had no doubt that he’d get the hang of sand boarding quickly.
The same sweet little park ranger we’d talked to earlier explained to Daniel in great detail how to use the board and sent him on his way.
Holding Down the Bleachers
Since I don’t do sand and didn’t want to get sand in my shoes or on my bare feet and decided to stubbornly wait at the observation deck while everyone else had fun, I volunteered to guard their backpacks, shoes, etc. The desert sun was beating down, but I found shade under the bleachers and with a slight breeze, I stayed relatively cool, much like a desert rodent waiting for the cool evening air. 😂🤣😂
Having Fun in the Sand
While Bill was out snapping pictures, the kids headed out to the large sand dune directly in front of the bleachers. Joseph and Julie opted to hike and just play around while watching Daniel and Jess give sand boarding a try.
As expected, Daniel was a natural and captured some great video with the GoPro. We pulled these fantastic pictures from his video.
And here’s a six-second video Daniel shot!
This picture says it all – Daniel had a great time shredding the dunes!
Not to miss out on the fun, Jess gave it a try and did quite well on what she dubbed the bunny slope.
How Did Sand Boarding Compare to Snow Boarding?
To be fair, Daniel is a skier, not a snow boarder, but he said the hardest part was not having a ski lift to ride back up to the top of the dune after each ride down. Running in the sand is no joke, especially in the desert heat!
Final Thoughts on Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park
Coral Pink Sand Dunes is a beautiful park that’s definitely worth the visit when you’re in the Southern Utah area. For those who aren’t neurotic about sand getting on them, there are so many fun things to do within the park. For those who are neurotic, there’s a fabulous set of bleachers to relax on while taking in the beautiful scenery and watching your family have fun.
- Were you surprised to learn there were sand dunes nowhere near the ocean?
- What’s your favorite state park and in which state is it located?
- Have you visited Southern Utah?
Happy Running! ~ Deb