At the southern tip of the Llano Estacado mesa in West Texas sits a small state park that boasts an unusual attraction for its visitors: no two trips to the 4,000-acre Monahans Sandhills State Park are ever the same. With its endless, sprawling sand dunes, the park itself is a canvas waiting to be painted by the constant wind that whips across the landscape.
With its towering dunes that loom over seventy feet tall in some cases, the scenery is especially breathtaking at sunrise and sunset when the sky’s vibrant colors mark the undulating sand with rich hues and shifting shadows. A popular destination for hikers, horseback riders, and campers, the park is easy to navigate, despite its changing topography. Thanks to its windblown slopes, the park is gaining popularity as a hot spot for sandboarding, tobogganing, and sand surfing.
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There are no official hiking trails inside the park’s borders—it is open for exploration in its entirety. Visitors are free to use the picnic shelters and visitor center, as well as an equestrian area to refresh their horses. For those who wish to travel a beaten path, a small nature trail leads visitors on a quarter-mile stroll through some of the Chihuahuan Desert’s unique flora.
The dunes heat up quickly during the warm months, so visitors should wear adequate footwear and bring plenty of water on their hikes. At every turn, hikers can expect to see evidence of the desert’s thriving wildlife population, including badgers, kangaroo rats, javelinas, feral pigs, and Jerusalem crickets.
Monahans Sandhills State Park is open daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. with an entrance fee of just four dollars for adults. Reservations are recommended for overnight camping.