Things to Do

Go Dune Sledding in Monahans Sandhills State Park

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Dashing through the snow…er, sand at Monahans Sandhills State Park is about the closest thing that kids in Texas may get to actual tobogganing in our great state. Sure, it’s sand and not snow, but the sense of fun and adventure is still there, and it’s an experience unlike any other in the state.

Monahans Sandhills State Park is located in west Texas, just southwest of the Midland/Odessa area. The nearest town to the park is Monahans, Texas, which is referred to as The Center of the Permian Basin. The state park offers overnight camping, and there are also lodging options in Monahans for those less inclined to camp.

It Might Look Like a Desert, but It’s Not

Monahans

Photo: Facebook/MonahansSandhills

Monahans Sandhills State Park is noted for the presence of sand dunes up to 70 feet high. Although desert-like, the Monahans Sandhills are not a desert; they are a part of a semi-arid ecosystem characterized by the presence of both groundwater and relatively nutrient-poor windblown sand.

Throughout the year, the dunes change shape with the prevailing winds. During rainstorms, the dunes act like a giant sponge, absorbing rainwater and preventing it from evaporating. In places where a layer of hard ground—known as caliche—forms, the rainwater gathers into temporary ponds, providing a water source for thirsty desert animals. People, too, have been coming to the sand dunes for thousands of years, digging beneath the sand to find fresh water.

Texas-Style Entertainment

Monahans Sandhills
Photo: Facebook/tripstodiscover.TX

Sledding on the sand dunes is the most popular activity at the park and sand toboggans and disks, for “surfing” on the sand dunes, can be rented at park headquarters. Other activities include horseback riding (horses not included), bird watching and wildlife viewing. There is also the Dunagan Visitor Center that features hands-on exhibits of the cultural and natural history of the Sandhills, including Dune Dynamics, Permian Basin Heritage and Wildlife Habitat. Scenic windows offer spectacular viewing of birds and other wildlife as they come to food and water.

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