An off-the-radar expanse of photographic bliss, Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park is where weekend warriors can leave footprints—and tire tracks—in soft sand. Ride a dune buggy among old juniper, and pinyon and ponderosa pines or walk on top of the orange-red sand dunes.
These geological oddities were formed by the continual erosion of the nearby Navajo sandstone cliffs. The dunes are created by a phenomenon known as the Venturi Affect, where wind passes through a notch between the Moquith and Moccasin Mountains. It increases velocity through the notch, which erodes the sandstone and carries the grains to the dunes.
While the dunes are estimated to be 10,000 to 15,000 years old, this state park was first opened to the public in 1963. Coral Pink Sand Dunes is the only major sand dune field on the Colorado Plateau. It’s 3,730 acres large, some 90-percent is open to OHVs. Another unique aspect of the park: This is the only place in the world where you can find the Coral Pink tiger beetle.
Directions and other pertinent info: Coral Pink Sand Dunes is approximately 310 miles south of Salt Lake City. From Kanab, follow U.S. Hwy 89 north for 10 miles to Hancock Road Scenic Backway. Follow the signs west into the park. You will intersect Yellowjacket Road; turn left, and the park entrance is five miles up on the left. The road is paved all the way to the parking lot.
Entrance into the park is $8 per vehicle. Park at the main lot just inside the park or at the campground (sites are $20/ night). There is primitive camping available on the nearby Bureau of Land Management lands. Dogs must be on a six-foot leash at all times.
For more information, visit the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park website.
Photographer and award-winning journalist Austen Diamond specializes in creative portraiture, commercial photography and editorial photojournalism. For booking inquiries and to view his portfolio, go to www.AustenDiamond.com.