Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park – Mount Carmel Junction, Utah

Visiting the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. Families looking for an adventurous day or camping trip in Utah typically visit the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, located 20 miles west of Kanab and 12 miles from Mount Carmel Junction in the southwest part of the state.  Beautiful, red sandstone cliffs compliment the coral pink-colored sand dunes spanning 3,730 acres of land.

The dunes are estimated to be 10,000 to 15,000 years old, and are formed by the erosion of pink Navajo Sandstone carried by the Virgin River and deposited at the bottom of the Arizona Cane Beds.  Hues of pink and coral are formed by the hematite coating on quartz sand particles, creating an imaginary playland for adults and children in the vast Utah wilderness.

The sand is deposited on dunes via winds tunneling between the Moquith and Moccasin mountains, known as the “Venturi effect”.  265 acres of the park are dedicated for conservation efforts, and the remainder is used for hiking, camping, off-road vehicle driving and by photography enthusiasts.

Known as the only major dunes on the Colorado Plateau, the park was established in 1968 to allow travelers from abroad to visit the breathtaking sights.  The park is open year-round, is open on holidays, and boasts a 22-unit on-site campground.  RV parks are also located nearby, and groups may always be accommodated.

This popular destination served as the main film set for the 1963 movie “The Greatest Story Ever Told”, starring such celebrities as Charlton Heston and John Wayne.  Producers chose the dunes as a backdrop for the story because it resembled the deserts of Egypt.

Enthusiasts love to visit the park after nightfall, experiencing the clear sky full of stars that seem to almost make the dunes glow from within.  Several astronomy classes and workshops have been known to gather there in the past.  Locals and visitors enjoy sledding on the snow-covered dunes in the winter months for a unique cold-weather activity.

Just across the turn into the park sits Diana’s Throne, a slickrock cliff providing a wonderful view of the Zion National Park.  Legend tells us that she threw herself from the top because she couldn’t handle the beauty of the scenery, and the red rock is colored so due to her bloodshed.

Rates to drive through the park are $5 per car, and reservations may be made at the campground by calling 1-800-322-3770 Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

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