Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park

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Though the label “spontaneous” is starting to be an umbrella term for just being terrible at planning, we randomly decided to head south last weekend, hoping to commune with the dirt and the sky before I headed in for a minor surgery later this week.

We had high hopes that we might obtain a coveted pass to the Wave in the North Coyote Butte but the permit lottery governs huge demand and as a result has become a complete circus. On the three mornings we applied, there were 70-80 people all hoping for 10 permits. Our luck wasn’t all that good.

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 Fortunately, we’d come to the area up for almost anything, and of course, the “neighborhood” surrounding Kanab crammed with natural wonders. On our first day, all our plans had fallen through, so we casually headed out to the Coral Pink Sand Dunes (it’s a Utah State Park) where we thought we might kill an hour or two watching the sun set.

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By the time we’d parked the car, my heart was already won over and I declared it my favorite state park (I think it even beats Goblin Valley!). Pillars of sand stretched into the desert sky chasing the wispy clouds in the wind. I’ve lived in Utah all my life, and though I grew up seeing an old photo of my grandpa driving a dune buggy here, I had no idea what a huge spectacle existed just 90 minutes from the small town where my grandparents made their home. The pink hills were gorgeous and it took mere minutes before Ben had ditched his shoes and gone running across the perfectly uniform sand diving down the hill in a graceful tumble.
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We walked around and around, up and down, our footprints fresh in the gently crusted sand, bolting up the steep walls of the sand mountains before us as our feet sunk deep into the silt. The park was all but empty and the wind trailed us, anxious to erase any proof we’d ever been here. They say the dunes move about 50 feet a year, and as I watched the earth scrub my footprints clear, I felt both very mortal and also content to know that one day I too will be among all this majestic dust.
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We sat atop the mounds watching the wind and the sand and the clouds dance, convinced the day couldn’t get any better. Then the light would change and the place seem all new. We’d marvel in wonder and then, the sun would fade, we’d meander to a new spot, and the light would twirl again.
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This went on all evening until our bare feet were numb in the cold sand and the sun was all but gone but we couldn’t stop smiling. Two minutes from the car, the clouds sunk into brilliant pinks and oranges and we scurried crablike across the sand trying to capture the night’s final magic trick.

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We’ve traveled the world over looking for vistas like this one and we found it just a few hours from home. 

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