One magical space in Texas allows people the opportunity to see the shifting sands of a sand dune field. At Monahans Sandhills State Park, guests may literally see their environment shift over-night.
3,840-acre Monahans Sandhills State Park is only a small section of a grand sand dune field. The sand dune field surrounding the park continues for approximately 200 miles from south of Monahans westward and north into the state of New Mexico.
Guests to Monahans Sandhills State Park may be surprised to learn that plants stabilize most of these dunes. Many of the sand dunes within the park continue to shift and change shape as seasonal storms and winds alter the environment around them. This process creates sand dunes of 50 feet in height, or sometimes even higher.
Visitors to Monahans Sandhills State Park will also find unique wildlife and plant life residing with the sand dunes. As dusk approaches, guests will often see badgers, wood rats, kangaroo rats, javelinas and feral hogs. Plants native to the area include the unique Shin oak. This petite tree provides stabilization to many of the dunes.
Native Americans resided in the area surrounding Monahans Sandhills State Park as long as 12,000 years ago. Two notable tribes, the Apache and the Comanche, used this area for temporary campgrounds and as a meeting place. The Native Americans hunted the abundant game here. Their knowledge of the environment allowed them to use the abundant fresh water that can be found beneath the shifting sands. The Native Americans also made use of the acorns and mesquite beans that grow on the native plants.
Monahans Sandhills State Park maintains 26 campsites outfitted with electric and water hookups. Each site provides a much-needed shade shelter.
RV Rentals in Monahans Sandhills State Park
Transportation in Monahans Sandhills State Park
The park's address is:
Monahans Sandhills State Park
P O BOX 1738
MONAHANS TX 79756
From Midland: Guests will take I-20 West to exit 86. Guests will then take Park Road 41 North to the Park.
From El Paso: Guests will take I-20 East through Monahans for 6 miles to exit 86 Guests will then take park road 41 North to the Park.
From San Antonio: Guests will take I 10 West to Fort Stockton. Guests will then take Hwy 18 North to Monahans. Guests will take I-20 East for 6 miles to EXIT 86. Guests will then take Park Road 41 North to the park.
Guests should note that the park entrance is just beyond the railroad tracks encountered after exiting I-20. There is literally no way to miss the park.
Guests to the Monahas Sandhills State Park will find ample parking within the park. Guests may park at the campsites. Guests will also find parking at the Dunagan Visitor Center, at the Shin Oak Picnic Are, at the equestrian area, at the Sandhills Picnic Pavilian, and at the Pump Jack Picnic Area.
There is no public transportation available within the park.
Campgrounds and parking in Monahans Sandhills State Park
Campsites in Monahans Sandhills State Park
Monahans Sandhills State Park maintains 26 standard campsites. These sites offer both water and electrical hookups and can accommodate up to eight guests each. The sites come equipped with a picnic table, a fire ring, a waist-high grill, and a shade shelter. The campsites also have restrooms.
Monahans Standhills State Park maintains three Equestrian Campsites with water hookups. These campsites can accommodate up to eight guests each. Tents are not allowed in this area. As there are no pens provided, horse owners need to provide their own panels or solar fence. Trailer parking and potable water is available. Expect heavy sand, with brush and a few mesquite trees. Each campsite offers picnic tables and outdoor grills.
Seasonal activities in Monahans Sandhills State Park
Million Barrel Museum
Guests to Monahans Sandhills State Park with an interest in history and oddities will want to make a visit to the Million Barrel Museum in nearby Monahans, TX. Upon hearing the name Million Barrel Museum guests will most likely imagine a museum featuring a million barrels. However, this isn’t what you can expect to find at the Million Barrel Museum, located in Monahans. What you will find is a cement oil tank the size of three football fields. This tank was built in the late 1920s during a big oil boom in this region of Texas. The tank was built to store the massive quantities of crude coming in from the oilfields in an era before pipelines.
Although the tank was theoretically sound, it quickly began to leak and allowed oil to evaporate. It is this engineering marvel that creates the heart of the Million Barrel Museum. Today, the grounds include the mammoth reservoir as well as the historic 1909 Holman House, moved to the site for preservation. Guests will also see the Rattlesnake Bomber Base Museum. This museum tells the story of the nearby World War II-era Pyote Air Force Base.
Virtually every person who comes to Monahans Sandhills State Park finds themselves drawn to hike the stunning sand dunes. The terrain is unique and completely engaging with sand dunes as tall as 70 feet.
Monahans Sandhills State Park also maintains a quarter-mile looped Nature Trail. This trail is a lightly trafficked loop. Guests that take this short easy trail will find beautiful native wild flowers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are welcome on this trail but must be kept on leash.
Those with horses will love Monahans Sandhills State Park. It is a lovely place to take your horse for a lazy ride in a unique environment. The park offers the opportunity to camp at one of their three Equestrian Campsites. Here guests will find space for their horse as well as room to accommodate up to eight campers.
There's also an 800-acre equestrian area. Guests should note that the area has no marked trails and that they will encounter heavy sand and short vegetation. For free-spirited horseback riders this is a vast freeing and unique equestrian opportunity.
Odessa Meteor Crater and Museum
Guests to Monahans Sandhills State Park with an interest in natural history may find the Odessa Meteor Crater and Museum in Odessa, TX of interest. The Odessa Meteor Crater is the second largest meteor crater in the U.S. Over 50,000 year ago a hole 550 feet wide and 100 feet deep formed when a thousand-ton meteor slammed into the earth.
As dramatic as this event was, be mindful that this occurred millennia ago. Since its creation, the crater has been layered with sand from the surrounding area. This dampens the visual impact of the space. Guests will find a walking trail lined with signs that explain the crater’s history and caution against removing rocks or disturbing local wildlife.
Guest are invited to explore the crater from the trail. There is also a museum adjacent to the crater that provides information and sells fragments of the meteor for those interested in a souvenir.
Dunagan Visitor Center
Guests to Monahans Sandhills State Park will want to visit the Dunagan Visitor Center. The visitor center educates guests on the cultural and natural history of the area. Exhibits available to guests include Dune Dynamics, Permian Basin Heritage, and Wildlife Habitat.
Guests are also invited to partake in birdwatching through the scenic window. The visitor center also provides a great space to make plans for exploring the park through camping, hiking, picnicking, and horseback riding. Guests should also note that this is where they can rent a disc for sand surfing.
Adventurous visitors to Monahans Sandhills State Park may want to try their hand at sand surfing. This is a unique twist to snow sledding that one can’t do just anywhere. However, due to the immense sand dunes in this park, guests can actually surf the sand. Many people enjoy sliding down the immense sand dunes on small plastic discs.
In fact, this is the most popular activity in the park. There are discs and toboggans available for rent at the park headquarters. Guests should be mindful not to disturb sand dunes with vegetation and should be sure to have plenty of water on hand as sand surfing is thirsty business.