This week we were on a road trip through the South West, taking some of the same roads that we have planned to use for our expedition trip. As we departed Flagstaff, headed to St. George, we discovered that the recent rains had seriously damaged Utah State Route 9. The discovery, of course, occurred a couple of miles from the road wash-out, with a sign that closed the road to all but small vehicles, (we weren't small.) While the road will remain open to small vehicles, it will close completely beginning April 9 for at least three weeks. Translation: it will be closed when we visit.
So anyway, we had to back track to find another route to St George. Curiosity, however, got the better of me and I had to stop at a local gas station not far from the closure to see why. That's when I was given a copy of a local newspaper, (The Southern Utah News,) which carried this front page article:
I'll reroute our trip to accommodate this closure.
While the re-routing was a real PITA, it did have a wonderful silver lining. My detour took us on a road on which we saw VERY few vehicles, and for the most part, no communities or houses. Traveling down this remote and apparently little used road, we came across a very unusual and fascinating State Park: Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, https://stateparks.utah.gov/parks/coral-pink/
This is what the Utah Parks Department says:
We might even have to stay there for a day.The geology of the sand dunes is an intriguing subject. The sand comes from Navajo sandstone from the geologic period call Middle Jurassic. The same iron oxides and minerals that give us spectacular red rock country are responsible for this landscape of coral pink sand.
Sand dunes are created by three factors: Sand, high winds, and a unique influence upon the wind. The notch between the Moquith and Moccasin mountains causes this unique influence. The wind is funneled through the notch, thereby increasing wind velocity to a point where it can carry sand grains from the eroding Navajo sandstone.
This phenomenon is known as the Venturi Affect. Once the wind passes through the notch and into the open valley, the wind velocity decreases, causing the sand to be deposited.These dunes are estimated at 10,000 to 15,000 years old.
Coral Pink Sand Dunes support a diverse population of insects, including the Coral Pink tiger beetle that is found only here. Melting snow sometimes creates small ponds in the dunes that support amphibians such as salamanders and toads.
The park is also a popular destination for ATV riders. About 90% of the dunes are open for riding, but all of the dunes are open for hiking and just playing in the sand.
Opened to the public as a state park in 1963.
Park Elevation: 6,000 feet