Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park is a great place for photography. The state park is located approximately thirty minutes outside of Kanab, Utah, and is known mostly as a recreational site for all terrain vehicles. We stopped here briefly to take a late afternoon hike in the dunes, followed by a great night of camping under the stars. Our visit was in early June, and I was delighted to see that there were many wildflowers in bloom along the edges of the dune field. Unfortunately, I did not find them until after I had wrapped up most of my photography. Of course, the main subject here is the dunes themselves. These reddish-tinged dunes are made of Navajo sandstone, and contain the same iron oxides and minerals found in the many other spectacular colorful rock formations throughout red rock canyon country. According to the park website, these dunes are created by three factors: sand, high winds, and a geologic notch between the Moquith and Moccasin mountains. As the wind is funneled through this notch, it increases in velocity enough to carry away eroding sand grains from the nearby Navajo sandstone. Once the wind passes down into the open valley, the velocity decreases and the sand is deposited into the dune field, now estimated to be betweem 10,000 and 15,000 years old.
I enjoyed a few hours of great late afternoon light to do a short hike and take a few photographs before I had to break and set up camp. Unfortunately, I missed the the hour or so leading up to sunset, but I had a great time anyway. One dune in particular caught my eye, which looked like a gigantic wave getting ready to break. This scene was made all the more interesting by a dead head tree poking out of the sand immediately in front of this dune, apparently unaware that this gigantic wave of sand was ready to crash down on its head. After our camp was set up, I headed for the closest area of dunes to look around, and had just enough light to capture a passing thurdertorm in the distance, side lit by the last rays of the sun, which had dropped below the horizon to the west. I found an amazing dune covered in some kind of flowering plant that added a great foreground element. As I was shooting handheld on this short walk, I had to use a fairly high ISO due to the receding light, which added a little more grain than I would normally like, but I was quite taken with the moment and the beautiful (and unexpected) scene at hand.