Venture onto a Shifting Sea of Red Sand
Changed by winds, these mountains and hills of sand can move as much as 50 feet per year. With areas for off-highway vehicle enthusiasts and those with non-motorized pursuits, the dunes offer adventures for all.
The geology of the sand dunes is an intriguing subject. The sand comes from Navajo sandstone from the geologic period call Middle Jurassic. The same iron oxides and minerals that give us spectacular red rock country are responsible for this landscape of coral pink sand.
Sand dunes are created by three factors: Sand, high winds,and a unique influence upon the wind. The notch between the Moquith and Moccasin mountains causes this unique influence. The wind is funneled through the notch, thereby increasing wind velocity to a point where it can carry sand grains from the eroding Navajo sandstone.
This phenomenon is known as the Venturi Affect. Once the wind passes through the notch and into the open valley, the wind velocity decreases, causing the sand to be deposited.These dunes are estimated at 10,000 to 15,000 years old.
Coral Pink Sand Dunes support a diverse population of insects, including the Coral Pink tiger beetle that is found only here. Melting snow sometimes creates small ponds in the dunes that support amphibians such as salamanders and toads.
The park is also a popular destination for ATV riders. About 90% of the dunes are open for riding, but all of the dunes are open for hiking and just playing in the sand.