Southern Utah is a special place, and it's a point of pride among many visitors that they continue to carry a little bit of Utah with them wherever they go - in the form of sand. Since you're adding some of that always-with-you sand to your camping gear this year, it may as well be some unique pink sand from the wonderful Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park in Kanab, UT.
The southwestern corner of Utah has a different personality than the rest of the state. While many of the national parks and monuments are increasingly restricted to busy points of interest and designated trails, this part of Utah offers something a little more on the wild side. Kanab is filled with tour guides and rental companies offering adventure in the form of helicopters, hummers, dirt bikes, jeeps, sand rails, and a slew of non-motorized fun as well.
Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park offers 3,730 acres of rolling sand dunes that have piled up over 15,000 years from eroded Navajo sandstone. There are two sections to the park so that OHV motorists don't have to watch out for hikers and photographers while they're tearing up the dunes. There is a campground with large pull-through sites for RVs and trailers with some sites offering partial hookups. Drinking water and restrooms are available nearby.
In addition to the off-road vehicle adventures which the park is famous for, sand surfing has been growing in popularity in recent years, as well as fat-tire biking, both of which allow some adventurous interaction with the desert.
The park and campground are open year-round, and if quiet enjoyment of the dunes for hiking, nature, and photography are what you seek, fall and winter are the best times to visits to the dunes. Multiple off-road enthusiasts begin showing up in force around Spring Break. Nearby Kanab has several options for dining, groceries, and fuel.
No matter what time of year you visit Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, you are in for spectacular scenery and lots of outdoor fun, so pack up the motorhome and head over for your next RV vacation.
Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park is located in southwest Utah far from the hustle and bustle of city life. St. George is an hour to the west of the park and Rockville is an hour northwest. The park is 30 minutes from both Colorado City, AZ and Kanab, UT, so if you need supplies or gas, you'll want to stock up there. The park is in a remote, wilderness area, so make sure you have enough food, water, and essentials in your campervan before you head out. The park may be accessed via US-89 from most places, but no matter which way you come, you'll probably have to change roads a few times to get to the park.
Winds drift sand and flash foods can bring water over the roads during storms. Always be alert when driving where the sand is touching the pavement. Always explore off-road areas with a partner so that you can tow each other out if you get stuck. Mind your tank levels, and never pass up an opportunity to fill your water tank. Also, never leave your awning open or roof vents open unattended because of sudden high winds. There should be plenty of room on the road to maneuver large rigs since RVs up to 120 feet long can be accommodated here.
The Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park Campground consists of 27 sites surrounded by attractive desert juniper and pinion trees. There are 15 primitive sites and 12 with electrical and water hookups. You'll love soaking in those wild and majestic desert views while you cook up dinner over the fire ring and chow down at the picnic table which will be provided at your site.
If you have a large RV or travel trailer, you'll fit in just fine here. Every site is roomy with paved pull-through driveways that can accommodate rigs from 25 feet to 120 feet in length. All sites are pet-friendly with paved pads. There are full restrooms with hot showers and drinking water and plenty of additional parking for trailers and OHV staging.
Although reservations are recommended, any sites that are not reserved may be rented on a first-come, first-served basis. However, with only 27 sites, you are advised to call ahead.
A host of plant and insect life against the background of unique pink and orange colored sand dunes provides endless subject matter for adventurous photographers. Insects leave interesting trails in the sand. Coyotes can be found stalking desert rodents and snakes. Cactus and other desert plants reveal vibrant blooms in the Spring. Stunning sunrises spread shadows and color across an already exciting landscape, and the pink sand contrasting with the bright blue of the Utah sky makes for a striking photo opportunity. You'll never run out of things to photograph in Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park.
There are pictographs and petroglyphs to be found on the South Fork of Indian Canyon just a few miles drive from the state park campground, off of US-89. Because of the nature of the shifting sand dunes, 4WD access is necessary to find your way to the sites. Check with the park ranger for trustworthy directions on your own, or call one of the tour companies out of Kanab for guided options. Please respect these historical paintings, and help preserve them for future generations.
Whether you strap on a board because you can't wait till the ski hills open, or you're on it specifically because you need to commune with the sand dunes, sandboarding is exploding in popularity. Many of the dunes tower over 300 feet, and a large section of the park is protected for non-motorized activities. Nearby Kanab has a wide variety of sand toys for sale and rent. There are even custom made tubes and sleds meant for tow-behind action. Fall is the best time because of cooler temps and the sand is not as hot to the touch.
Take a break from the fun in the sun and make use of one of the park's many picnic tables to have a relaxing lunch in the shade. Restrooms are located nearby. After lunch, check out the Visitor Center where you can see exhibits about the natural processes that created the dunes and see different colored sand from all around the world along with explanations of what makes the sand vary in color. Kids will also be interested in the bug and snake exhibit as well. A ranger is usually available to answer questions about the park.
Even though tearing through the sand dunes on a motorized dune-buggy is a blast, it's a special treat to be able to whisk through the desert silently on a bike. The Pink Coral Dunes are an incredibly scenic place to drop your tire pressure and cruise into the desert. The sand here is actually most firm where there are no Jeep tracks, so you'll be able to explore wherever your curiosity leads you. The sand in front of you will only be marked with the tracks of insects and coyotes. Make sure to pack plenty of water for your ride. You may even want to pack a lunch, so you can take a nice rest and refuel before heading back to camp after your ride.
There is a 5.5-mile loop trail that travels the perimeter of the dunes. The desert is filled with life which really must be experienced on foot to understand. Insects and reptiles inhabit the desert in great numbers, and while hiking the dunes, visitors will see thousands of unique tracks and marks in the sand, recording much of this unseen life. It takes extra effort to hike in the sandy areas. Bring lots of water, and start early in the day if you are attempting the full hike.
The nearby town of Kanab may have more OHV and ATV rental outfits and tour companies than it has restaurants. Check around for prices and availability. There is everything from scenic tours and day trips, to full rental delivery service, where they will bring the toys right to your campsite. The dunes are open to any vehicles, but don't get yourself in trouble without a friend to tow you out!
Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park has a fun Junior Ranger Program for your kids to earn cool badges. Kids can earn badges for picking up trash, completing a fun activity book, and participating in ranger-led learning activities. Geocaching is one such activity and finding the park's special resident, the tiger beetle is another. The tiger beetle only lives in the dunes and is easiest to find in the early summertime. The Junior Ranger Program will give your kids an adventure they won't soon forget.