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Southwest Dune Quest

March & April 2005

Stop #1 - Kelso Dunes, CA - Closed to Vehicles

On the way to Phoenix, I stopped on Interstate 40 to check out Kelso and Cadiz Dunes. Both of these dunes are designated Wilderness Areas which means you can't use any vehicles.  I hiked to the top of Kelso from the parking area.  About 600 vertical feet and over a mile from the top to the parking area as the crow flies.

Kelso Dunes Wilderness Area - Easter 2005   Kelso View From Top - Looking West

I saw lots of Mojave Fringed Toed Lizards.  Only one little guy would cooperate enough for me to get a good picture of him.

Kelso Dunes - Mojave Fringed Toed Lizard

With all the rain we've been having this year, there were lots of wildflowers and even a small creek heading to the dunes.

Kelso Dunes - Wildflower   Kelso Dunes - Wildflower   Kelso Dunes - Wildflower   Kelso Dunes - Evening Primrose   Kelso Dunes - Milkvetch   

Kelso Dunes - Creek flowing across road in March 2005   Kelso Dunes - Creek flowing across road in March 2005

Stop #2 - Cadiz Dunes, CA - Closed to Vehicles

Cadiz Dunes are east of Twentynine Palms and south of the Mojave Preserve. It took me about an hour to get from Kelso Dunes to Cadiz Dunes.  I'm sure you could get there in less time if you knew where you were going, and didn't stop to check out a tortoise.

Cadiz-TurnoffToDunes.jpg (43144 bytes)
This sign cracked me up.  It has a sticker on it that says "OHV Funds at Work".  The trouble is the only place you can ride an OHV in the area is on the access road.  Everything else is designated Wilderness and no vehicles are allowed.

I got to see a Mojave Fringed Toed Lizard, a very trusting grass hopper and a lone Dune Evening Primrose.

Cadiz Dunes Wilderness Area - Easter 2005   Cadiz Dunes - Mojave Fringed Toed Lizard   Cadiz Dunes Grasshopper   Cadiz Dunes Evening Primrose

And on the way from Kelso Dunes to Cadiz Dunes, I actually saw a Desert Tortoise.

Desert Tortoise

Stop #3 - Cinder Hills, AZ

We camped just under the shadows of Sunset Crater. Went on a nature walk and the family picked up a bit of trash along the way.

Cinder Hills OHV Area in Arizona - March 2005   Cinder Hills - Our Camping Spot off of FR 776   Cinder Hills - Nature walk, picking up trash

We also visited Sunset Crater National Monument

SunsetCrater-21.jpg (34649 bytes)   Sunset Crater National Monument - Lava Flow   SunsetCrater-9.jpg (56218 bytes)
The kids thought the lava flow trail was pretty neat.  All they could talk about was volcano's and hot lava.

And stopped by Wupatki National Monument

Wupatki National Monument   Wupatki National Monument - San Francisco Peaks in the background   Wupatki National Monument   Wupatki National Monument
These building are all in the "Box Canyon" area.

Stop #4 - Lake Powell

On the way from Cinders to Coral Pink, we spent the night in Page, AZ and decided to rent a boat and explore Lake Powell for the day.  The lake level is very low, but there is still lots of water.  We went up Navajo Canyon and found a small beach with a sand dune and a canyon complete with a little creek.  The kids had a great time exploring up the canyon.

Lake Powell Navajo Canyon - April 2005   Lake Powell Navajo Canyon - April 2005   Lake Powell Navajo Canyon - April 2005   Lake Powell Navajo Canyon - April 2005   Lake Powell Navajo Canyon - April 2005

Stop #5 - Coral Pink Sand Dunes, UT

We camped at the dry lake bed at Coral Pink. Not too crowded considering it was still Spring Break for some kids.

Coral Pink - Our campsite   Coral Pink - Camping at the Dry Lake Bed

The kids and I hiked up the hill from the dry lake bed and explored around.  We found lots of neat animal & insect tracks:

Coral Pink Dunes - Animal Tracks   Coral Pink Dunes - Animal Tracks   Coral Pink Dunes - Animal Tracks   Coral Pink Dunes - Animal Tracks   Coral Pink Dunes - Animal Tracks

We visited the Utah State Parks part of the sand dunes.  Their visitor center has some neat displays including a collection of sand from around the world.  We hiked on the nature trail (closed to OHVs). They have some neat information about how the dunes were formed, etc.

Coral Pink, UT - April 2005   Coral Pink Sand Dunes Nature Trail

Stop #6 - Sand Hollow State Park, UT

The newest Utah State Park is Sand Hollow. The improved campground just opened a week before we arrived. Very nice facilities. We had a few storm clouds try to spoil our outdoor adventure.

Sand Hollow State Park - April 2005   Sand Hollow - Our Campground

We spent an afternoon exploring trails all the way around Sand Hollow (with no map). We did find Ft. Pearce Ridge Trail, which is a designated OHV, horse, hiking trail.  Never did find the dinosaur tracks or the Indian pictographs.

Hurricane Dunes - Exploring in the Yukon   Sand Hollow Dunes - Kids exploring a sand canyon   Sand Hollow - Exploring the backcountry around the dunes
Sand Hollow - Cow we ran across on our adventure   Sand Hollow - Ft. Pearce Ridge Trail - OHV Staging Area   SandHollow-EndOfDunes-1.jpg (46525 bytes)

The kids roasted marshmallows by the fire after a long day of exploring.

Sand Hollow Campground - Roasting Marshmallows by the fire

Stop #7 - Clayton Valley Dunes, NV

On the drive up Nevada on Highway 95, I decided to stop and check out the Clayton Valley Dunes.  I had previously been to Amargosa Dunes and Crescent Dunes, but Clayton Valley is a bit farther off the beaten path.

Clayton Valley Dunes in Nevada - April 2005

Back to Sand Dune Guide


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