Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park
Coral Pink Sand Dunes is a state park located in Utah's Canyon Country between Mount Carmel Junction and Kanab. The park offers recreation for both motorized and non-motorized users. With over 125,000 yearly visitors, this park and at the same time it protects endangered species endemic to the park.
The dunes was established in 1963. The 3,730 acres of Bureau of Land Management land was established as a Utah state park in 1963.
Starting about 15,000 years ago, piles of coral pink colored sand blew through a notch between the Moquith Mountains and Moccasin Mountain. The wind tossed it into the valley where it now lies in drifts of sand in this southern Utah state park. The reddish grains of sand come from the eroding Navajo sandstone, thus giving the dunes its name. Hills of dunes are vegetation free, and other sections are dotted with juniper, pine trees, bushes and wildflowers. From the sandy hills of the park there is a breathtaking view of the Vermillion Cliffs. The skies above are brilliantly clear.
Flora and fauna
In the lower vegetation zone of the high desert, pinon pines and junipers thrive, thrown in among the trees and sand are a spackling of wildflowers, grasses and cactus. Ponderosa Pines peer down from the higher elevations in the distinct, upper vegetation zone. The animals search out pools of water where they can survive. Odd enough the tiger salamander and toads live at the park. There are also small mammals such as jackrabbits, kangaroo rats, fox, coyote, bobcats, mountain lions, ring-tailed cat and mule deer. A few birds and reptiles make their home at the park including the a few harmless snakes, the bald eagle, peregrine falcon and the golden eagle.
The summers are hot and the winters are cool at the arid dunes. In the summer expect day time temperatures around 90 degrees with occasional thunderstorms. In the winter the snows usually begins in December and can continue, off and on, until April with a quick snow storm occasionally in May.
The road to the signed turn-off to the park (Yellow Jacket Road) is located 3 miles from Mount Carmel Junction, off Highway 89. Follow this road another 8 miles to the park entrance.
To get to the park from Kanab, get on Highway 89 and turn-off the signed road (Hancock Road). Continue to the park entrance. It is 22 miles from Kanab to the park.
The third entrance is from UT-389. This is a long dirt road that gets little use by park visitors.
Hours: Daylight hours, seven days a week Holiday Closures: None Day Visits: $5 Camping: $15
Most people head for the park entrance, pay their fee and then walk out on the boardwalk. That is a good start and there is a marked trail to take that meanders around the dunes. If you are not into four-wheeling then take your buckets and shovels and play away. ATV users will find trails galore. There are a couple of locations where you can hike to pictographs, but you will need a four-wheeler to get to the trailheads.
The visitor center does not usually sell anything.
Nearby towns with stores include:
There are vending machines at the visitor center that have chips, cookies, crackers.
The vending machine at the visitor center has soda and water.
The Coral Pink Sand Dunes has an outstanding campground with full showers. They are wonderful after a hot day in the sand. The campgrounds can get noisy from all the four-wheelers, but there is a noise curfew.
The backcountry around the dunes is wild and fun to explore. There are many side roads to take and places to hike, but they are not actual trails for the most part.
Have a spare for trips out in the dunes and a means to change it. Taking plenty of water is important in this environment. It's hot in the desert and little water around.