Once a year we try to take a long trip to someplace new. For scheduling reasons, these trips tend to happen during the summer. Seeing that we live in Southern California, someplace a little cooler is always a plus and with an altitude of over 6,000 feet, Coral Pink fits the bill. We talked to some friends and we came to a consensus: Coral Pink Sand Dunes, Utah would be the perfect spot for us. There was more to the decision than the cooler weather and relative convenience for everyone involved. Once we saw pictures, it looked to be just an amazing place to visit.
After doing some research and setting up a schedule that would work for everyone, we were ready to go. We decided to meet in early June because the weather would still be pretty cool. We had some friends coming down from Northern Utah along with some friends caravanning with us. We left in the early evening for the eight-hour drive to get there. For the most part it went smoothly, except for getting turned around in the dark near Coral Pink.
Upon arrival at the dunes at about 4:00 a.m, we just hit the sack to get a little shut-eye before the sun came up. We had chosen to camp in the Meadows, a small area near the formal Coral Pink Campground that has no hookups and also no curfew. We woke up in the morning to the arrival of our friends from the North who had driven down earlier and stayed in a Bed & Breakfast in nearby Kanab, Utah. After a hearty breakfast of Lucky Charms, it was time to unload the toys. Now most folks coming to the dunes would have mounted up their paddles to maximize traction, but we were planning to explore some of the many surrounding trails that were not sand, so we ran with standard knobbies. While this was fine on the trails, it made the dunes at Coral Pink that much more challenging.
You see, the sand at Coral Pink is the finest sand I’ve ever seen. It’s called blow-sand because the wind actually carries it there from the surrounding Navajo Sandstone Mountains and it really does have a pinkish color. The stuff is one step above silt, therefore traction is critical, and when you add in the altitude, it becomes really interesting. We had brought along a mini-buggy and a couple of quads, one sport and one 4x4. Everything worked well, but I think the 4x4 handled the terrain the best. If I had brought paddle tires for the Raptor, I’m sure it would have done great too.
Speaking of toys, if your ATV or dirt bike is registered in California, then you’re legal in Utah. If you’re coming from a state that doesn’t require registration, then you will have to buy a temporary permit from Utah. These permits are available at the campground. There is also a minimum age of eight years old to be riding. Utah law also requires youths ages eight to sixteen to complete the Utah State Parks and Recreation “Know Before You Go!” OHV education course before operating on public lands, roads, or trails. Orange whips are required and helmets must be worn for everyone under the age of 18.
What I have yet to make clear is just how cool Coral Pink is. Because of its altitude, they actually get a lot of rain, which means there is a lot of plant life, including huge pine trees. So now, you’re running through the dunes, many of which are actually sand trails through trees. Come off a hill and there’s a small lake. For regulars of California’s dune areas, this is too wild to describe and really a treat. Seeing as how we’re not exclusively dune riders, but trail riders too, Coral Pink is nearly the perfect place to camp. The big bonus came from the amazing trails across the street from the Meadows. There were huge canyons and places where you could see for miles. This is really a place that had something for everyone.
For those that really like to hike and explore, Coral Pink is also very close to Zion National Park along with the Grand Staircase and of course the Grand Canyon. Add to it that you get to stop in Las Vegas on the way from Southern California, makes this is a winning trip for the entire family.
To get some more information on the Coral Pink sand dunes check out these sites on line: www.stateparks.utah.gov/ or www.dunereview.com/coralpinkmap.htm