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Monahans Sandhills State Park may look like a rolling dessert, but it’s so much more. Famous for having towering sand dunes that sometimes reach as high as 70 feet. It is part of a semi-arid ecosystem home to both groundwater and sand, a place where the wind sculpts the ever-changing sand into peaks and valleys. While searching for an RV in Ward County, take note of the vast distances between major cities. With that in mind, the closest larger cities of interest are Carlsbad, NM, located around two hours northwest, and Big Spring, TX, an hour and a half northeast. Other smaller towns dot the area and provide the opportunity to explore.
Overall the park covers an area of 3,840 acres and is part of the dune field that extends for around 200 miles south of Monahans and north into New Mexico. Native Americans once resided in the area surrounding the park many years area and used the park to hunt for the abundant game that called the dunes their home.
There are plenty of activities to keep you entertained in the park, but for a more unique experience, why not go dune sledding? Sure, it’s not exactly the tobogganing experience that visitors may be useful, but it can be great fun for both kids and adults alike. So popular is this activity that disks, which are used for the dune surfing, can be rented at the park headquarters.
There is nothing better than heading out and exploring somewhere new, but due to the ever-changing nature of the park, there are no marked trails to follow, meaning you are free to walk where your feet take you, just make sure you are able to find your way back to the starting point and the state park RV campgrounds. There is, however, a short quarter mile looped nature trail. If you don’t fancy walking the sands yourself, bring your horse and make use of the 800-acre equestrian area.
If there are kids in tow, make sure to pick up a free Junior Ranger Activity Journal and an explorer pack, busting with tools to use to explore the park. Once you have completed all the tasks in the journal, children will receive a badge. The explorer pack comes in the form of a backpack containing a pair of binoculars, magnifying glass, animal tracking key and a guide to the many flowers, birds, trees, wildflowers, and butterflies that can be found in the area. If you are lucky, you may be able to spot wildlife such as deer, coyote, gray fox, bobcat, possum, jackrabbit and many other creatures headed to the pools in between the dunes.
There is a campsite in the heart of the dunes which contains 26 standard campsites, meaning camping at Monahans Sandhills State Park is easy. Every site offers both electrical and water hookups for convenience, and all have a well-needed shade shelter for protection from the hot Texan sun. All sites all also come with a grill, fire ring and picnic table for long and happy nights around the campfire.
In addition to the main motorhome camping grounds, there are also three equestrian campsites. However, campers will have to provide their own panels or solar fences to hold their horses. These sites have picnic tables and outdoor grills, but there are no electric hookups at these campsites, plan accordingly when camping with an RV.
There is also a great area located here for family reunions, a renovated railroad section house, built back in 1903. Today it houses a modern dining hall, kitchen and toilet facilities that can be rented out for special occasions.
The size of the meteor crater at Odessa has to be seen to be believed. It is the third largest crater in the United States, and was formed in prehistoric time. The largest of the three craters at the site covers 10 acres, and at its deepest is 10 feet deep. Since the impact, the crater has slowly begun to fill with sand. It is still pretty impressive, with the walking trail dotted with signs that explain the history area. Further information can be found in the museum. Booking an Odessa camper rental offers the opportunity to explore lots of attractions in the local area.
While visiting the park, make sure to stop by the Dunagan Visitor Center, which features hand on exhibits about the natural and cultural history of the area. Exhibits include Permian Basin Heritage, Wildlife Habitat and Dune Dynamics. In the center, there is a huge scenic window that offers a great place to spot birds and other wildlife as they come to eat the food and water.
Located in the nearby town of Monahans is the fascinating Million Barrel Museum. The museum is actually a huge cement oil tank that is the size of three football fields, which was built in the 1920s. It was built to store the crude oil that was harvested during the big oil boom. Today you can view the tank, visit the Rattlesnake Bomber Base Museum and view the 1909 Holman House.