Sand Dunes of the Southwest

Coral Pink Dunes, UT

Coral Pink Sand Dunes

Olsen Family Photo

The Coral Pink Sand Dunes, located in a valley at a 6,000-foot elevation southeast of Zion National Park near Kanab, Utah, are famous for their coral pink color. The sand itself is eroded from finely ground Navajo sandstone; its color derived from the same iron oxides that make the sandstone red. The pink dunes, clear blue skies, dark green forests, and red sandstone cliffs create a unique photo opportunity.

Strong winds pick up the fine grains of sand. These are then funneled through a narrow gap between the Moquith and Moccasin Mountains. This constricting notch increases wind velocity, which is called the venturi effect. After passing through the notch, the wind velocity drops and the sand is deposited. The winds shape the Coral Pink Dunes into two main types: star and crescent. The crescent dune was the first dune to form in the park, while the tallest is a 100-ft. star dune. The total sand dune area is about six miles long and approximately one mile wide.

The Coral Pink Sand Dunes are home to a variety of flora and fauna, including the Coral Pink tiger beetle, a species exclusive to the dunes. The park is a 3,730 acre recreation area with a nature trail and closed area, as well as over 2,000 acres of sand open to OHVs. The southern tip of the dunes marks the Arizona state line and the Kaibab Indian Reservation.

Coral Pink Sand Dunes

Google Earth image


Website design and content (c)2010 by Peter Olsen. This educational unit study was my PVCC honors project for GPH 211 Landform Processes.