Last Updated on March 7, 2023
Are you seeking an exciting adventure that will take you off the beaten path? If so, look no further than the breathtaking sand dunes that are scattered across the United States. These stunning landscapes offer a unique experience that is vastly different from the typical theme park or tourist trap.
One of the most impressive features of these sand dunes is the incredible diversity of their size and shape. Some dunes reach heights of over 700 feet, while others are relatively small and intimate. Many of these dunes have fascinating characteristics that make them stand out from one another. For example, some produce a deep, resonant sound when they are disturbed, earning them the nickname of “booming dunes.”
The sand dunes of the United States are a haven for those who love nature, adventure, and photography. From capturing breathtaking views of the dunes’ changing colors and shapes as the sun sets to engaging in adrenaline-fueled activities like sandboarding and off-roading, there is no shortage of things to do and explore.
10 Stunning Dunes in the USA
1. Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado
The Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado is home to the tallest sand dunes in North America, with some reaching up to 750 feet in height. The dunes are surrounded by the rugged Sangre de Cristo Mountains, making for a stunning contrast between the soft sand and the hard rock. Visitors to the park can enjoy hiking, sandboarding, sledding, and even sandcastle building.
The Medano Creek is a popular spot for swimming and cooling off during the hot summer months. There are also several backcountry trails for those who want to explore the park’s wilderness. To reach the park, take US Highway 160 to State Highway 150, which will take you directly to the park’s entrance.
2. White Sands National Park, New Mexico
White Sands National Park in New Mexico boasts the largest gypsum sand dune field in the world, covering over 275 square miles. The bright white sand creates an otherworldly landscape that feels like walking on a snowy desert. Visitors can take a leisurely stroll through the dunes or go on a more challenging hike. The park also offers sledding, sandboarding, and even stargazing tours. To reach the park, take US Highway 70 east from Las Cruces or west from Alamogordo.
3. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan
The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan is home to towering sand dunes that rise up to 450 feet above Lake Michigan. Visitors can climb up to the top for breathtaking views of the lake, or take a leisurely walk along one of the park’s many trails. The park also offers a variety of water-based activities, including kayaking, fishing, and swimming. To reach the park, take State Highway M-72 to Glen Arbor, then follow signs to the park.
4. Imperial Sand Dunes, California
The Imperial Sand Dunes, also known as the Algodones Dunes, cover over 1,200 square miles in southeastern California. The dune field is a popular spot for off-road vehicle enthusiasts, with plenty of space for dune buggies, ATVs, and dirt bikes. Visitors can also enjoy camping, hiking, and even sandboarding. The dunes are easily accessible from Interstate 8, with several entrance points along the highway.
5. Jockey’s Ridge State Park, North Carolina
Jockey’s Ridge State Park in North Carolina boasts the tallest natural sand dune system on the East Coast, with some dunes reaching up to 80 feet in height. The park is a popular spot for hang gliding and sandboarding, and visitors can also take a leisurely walk along the park’s nature trails. The park is located in Nags Head, just off US Highway 158.
6. Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, California
The Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes are located in Death Valley National Park in California and offer incredible photo opportunities at sunrise and sunset. The dunes are surrounded by dramatic mountain ranges, creating a stunning backdrop for photography.
Visitors can also enjoy hiking and wildlife watching in the park. To reach the dunes, take State Highway 190 to Death Valley Junction, then follow signs to the dunes.
7. Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, Utah
Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park in Utah is home to a unique shade of pink sand due to the high iron content in the area. The park covers 3,730 acres and is popular for ATV riding, sandboarding, and hiking. The sand dunes can reach up to 50 feet high and offer beautiful views of the surrounding mountains. Visitors can also enjoy camping in the park’s designated campgrounds.
To reach the Coral Pink Sand Dunes, take US-89 to Mount Carmel Junction and then follow the signs to the park.
8. Bruneau Dunes State Park, Idaho
Bruneau Dunes State Park in Idaho is a hidden gem that offers incredible views and a chance to see the stars at night. The park is home to the tallest single-structured sand dune in North America, which stands at 470 feet tall. Visitors can climb to the top of the dune for panoramic views of the park and the surrounding landscape.
The park also offers opportunities for hiking, fishing, and birdwatching. Camping is available in the park’s designated campgrounds. To reach the park, take I-84 to exit 95 and follow the signs to the park.
9. Little Sahara Recreation Area, Oklahoma
Little Sahara Recreation Area in Oklahoma covers over 1,600 acres of sand dunes that can reach up to 75 feet high. The park is a popular spot for ATV and dirt bike enthusiasts, with designated areas for riding.
Visitors can also enjoy camping and hiking in the park, and there are picnic areas for those who want to relax and take in the scenery. To reach the park, take US-281 to Waynoka and then follow the signs to the park.
10. Kelso Dunes, California
Located in the Mojave Desert, the Kelso Dunes in California are known for producing a “booming” sound when the sand is disturbed. The dunes offer stunning views of the surrounding mountains and are a popular spot for hiking and photography. Visitors can also enjoy camping in the nearby campground.
To reach the dunes, take Kelbaker Road south from I-40 and turn onto Kelso-Cima Road. Follow the signs to the parking lot and hike one to two miles to reach the dunes. The best time to visit is in the spring or fall when temperatures are milder.
So what are you waiting for? Grab your hiking boots, sandboards, or off-road vehicles and head to the sand dunes of the USA for an adventure you’ll never forget.
Your n°1 source of information on the world of sandsports and desert adventure travel. Our articles are the result of extensive research, personal experience, and knowledge-sharing within the global sandboarding community.
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