In The Desert
Content including photographs are Copyright © 2014 - Present - Don & Linda Gilmore
Almost 200 million years ago the southwest was covered with sand dunes in the desert. Just like what most people think of today when you mention "desert". They think of the 3 1/2 million square mile Sahara Desert in Africa. Mountains pushed up through this and left us with large areas of sand dunes. These sand dune areas were formed in different ways.
Other Sand Dune Locations
If you are near any of our beautiful sand dune areas, stop, and see what's going on. Usually someone is playing in the sand, and if not you'll still have a great photo op.
White Sands National Monument in New Mexico is an excellent example of the world's largest gypsum sand dunes. The source of the dunes is the nearby San Andres and Sacramento Mountains. This gypsum dries in the ancient lake bed of Lake Lacero and then forms crystals that are then blown by strong winds to the sand dunes.
Besides being formed in different ways and being of different colors, the sand dunes in the desert southwest are of differing sizes. You'll find many smaller and less known sand dunes all over the southwest, like those at Sand Hollow, near St. George, Utah. And there are a lot more. Another one of nature's wonders in the desert.
These sand dunes run for 40 miles from the Mexican border north past Rt. 78 and the small settlement of Glamis, California. North of Rt. 78 is a wilderness area where motorized vehicles are not allowed but south of Rt. 78 is a large playground of big sand dunes. On the weekends a lot of people take advantage of this. This may have been under water at one time.
Back in the old times when wagons and the first vehicles headed west they put in planked roads to make these sections passable. Like the one in the photo to the right, located just off of I - 8 in the Algodones Dunes near the Grays Well exit. This area is being preserved and is fenced off and is one of the only places left o see this type of road. Enlarge this for a better view.
Wind and torrential downpours change the sand dunes all the time. They also erase the tracks left by people playing here. Areas to the north where the Wilderness area is still have small shrubs and plants that help to stabilize the sand dunes. These sand dunes are located in southeastern California.
In other locations the dunes can be of different colors, including pure white and red. Here's and example red dunes found in many locations in Utah that were caused by the weathering of the red Navajo stone hills and mountains. There are many places like this near Zion National Park. These sand dunes earned the name - Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Reserve. These sand dunes are 4.5 miles long.
Photo courtesy of Ryan Holiday Wikimedia Commons.