After reading about the Great Sand Dunes over at Colorado Lifestyle the family and I decided to head over to Monahans to play in Texas’ own oversized sandbox. The Monhans Sandhills State Park is located about an hour west of Midland on interstate 20. The park consists of 3840 acres of sand dunes, some up to 70 feet high. The park invites people to come and play in the sand in a verity of ways.
Since we were visiting in January the temperature was really quite pleasant. We have been to the sandhills before during the summer when you really feel like you’re in the desert (which, you are, by the way). The park charges three dollars per-person to enter the park. They also have sand-discs (for sledding) and sand-boards (for sand surfing) that can be rented for a dollar an hour. We picked up a sand-disc and a sand-board and drove out to the main picnic area.
Climbing up the sand dunes can be quite a chore. With each step you sink deeper into the soft sand. Footprints and sled trails where everywhere from previous visitors. My family and I made our way up to the first tall sandhill to spend some time playing. When the sand is dry and loose sledding is really quite hard. The park hands out wax to help overcome friction between the sand-discs and the loose sand. On the day we visited, the park had just received several inches of rain a few days before. As a result the sand was moist and hard packed, making sledding a breeze.
If you decided to come out to Monahans and do a little sand sledding let me give you some pointers my daughter and I discovered the hard way. First, it is a good idea to drag your hands behind you. This will help you steer and maintain control. The sled really starts going fast and if you get turned around backwards….you WILL flip over. Second, avoid the hills where grass is growing. The grass looks nimble enough that your sled will just push it down. It won’t, and it hurts. I sliced my finger open trying to maintain control on a steep hill with tall grass. Third, skip the sand-boards and go straight for the discs. The boards don’t slide well and dig into the sand too much to be fun.
The park has camping and picnic areas as well as a small nature trail. None of these seemed to be all that great. The main attraction of the park is the sand. Make sure you get the sand-discs back to the park office by 4:00 pm or they will send park rangers out looking for you. The park doesn’t close till 10:00 but the office closes at 4:30 pm.