Monahan Sandhills State Park
September 27, 2019
Is sledding a sand dune on your bucket list? If it isn’t it should be!
What is it like sledding a dune?
Monahan Sandhills State Park, located in western Texas, is the perfect spot to try it out.
Here is the synopsis of sledding a dune. Which is an absolute MUST DO when visiting Monahan Sandhills State Park.
Step 1 – Get to the top of the dune
Climb/walk to the top of the dune. Expect a good workout.
You will sink into the sand. Don’t take it personally – you didn’t eat too much ice cream today. The sand will shift and slide underneath your feet.
It is the nature of the sand. (I watched a spider try to climb up the dune and he had the same shifting and sliding issue that I did)
Step 2 – Pick your sledding trail
If this is your first run, find the steepest part of the dune with the least amount of vegetation.
Go for the hardest pack sand available. That loose sand will slow ya down. Keep sledding on the same trail. It’ll get faster every time.
Step 3 – Prepare your sledding disc and yourself
Wax up that disc. Just like you’ve seen surf-boarders do – give it a good coating.
Hand your phone, keys, and whatever else you value to a spectator for safe-keeping.
Step 4 – Sled!
Trust me on this one – don’t try for a running start. Sit on the edge and push off. Quickly tuck your feet up into the disk to put your center of gravity in one spot. Steering isn’t an option but try not to spin around backwards.
Avoid crash landing if you can – the mouth full of sand you get from a crash lasts for hours. With luck, you’ll end your ride still seated on the disc.
Step 5 – Get back to the top of the dune
Yep – you still gotta trudge back up that dune. No magical escalator has appeared. Consider it your bonus round workout for the day.
Step 6 – Repeat
Rinse and repeat until you can’t possibly climb that dune one more time.
Sledding is permitted on all of the dunes. You can either bring your own sledding disk or rent one for the day from the visitor center.
Choose your dune wisely. You don’t want to end your run on a road. The bigger and steeper the dune, the faster you’ll go.
Hiking is permitted anywhere in the park. There are no marked or official trails. You are free to explore as you will.
It is a little disconcerting to have no regulations on where to step. But once you accept it, it is very freeing to wander the dunes aimlessly.
The dunes are often used as backdrops for portrait-style photos. With the windy conditions, it is easy to get a footprint-free picture.
Stay for sunset to capture the magical pink colors.
Badgers and javelinas are on the wildlife checklist.
We spotted jack rabbits and scorpions and the telltale tracks of a snake.
The park does offer an equestrian section. Check with the visitor center for more details. I’m not horse savvy so I can’t offer any advice here.
The visitor center is where you pay your day use fees, reserve a campsite, and rent a sled.
There is a small gift shop in the visitor center.
The exhibit area (interpretive displays of the park) was closed when we visited due to a leaky roof.
The campground offers RV and tent sites. All sites have water and electric.
If you will be tent-camping, bring sand stakes. You will be staking your tent into pure sand. This means if you use normal sand stakes, the wind will laugh as it tumbles your tent away from you. (We might be speaking from personal experience on this one.)
Each site has a picnic table and some manufactured shade.
Flush toilets and hot showers are onsite.
There is no restaurant on site.
We recommend the Jazz Cafe in the nearby town of Monahans for dinner. The park ranger recommend it to us as an “upscale” location. Upscale was relative to the other options in town. We fit in with the other clientele wearing our usual attire of shorts and t-shirts. The food is excellent and they offer wine and beer.
Tips for visiting
Talk to the park rangers – either at the visitor center or as they drive around the park.
They are very knowledgeable . And Texas friendly – you will get a lot of local advice.
“You get hot. Or you get windy. Which would you prefer?”
The sun in Texas is intense. These are normal sand dunes (not gypsum dunes like at White Sands National Monument) so they get HOT. The park rangers said they had measured the sand temperature at 140 degree fahrenheit one day. So – choose a cooler day or visit early in the morning for the best sand experience.
It was extremely windy on the day we visited. When we asked the ranger if this was normal, he drawled, “You get hot. Or you get windy. Which would you prefer?”
The surrounding area doesn’t have a large tourism infrastructure. So expect to use this park as temporary fun rather than as a week-long vacation spot.
There is an oil-boom in the area. You will encounter plenty of road construction (or roads in need of repair) as well as a LOT of sand trucks and semis.
Must Have Items
- Sun protection (sunscreen or clothes)
- Water bottle
- A method of protecting your electronics (camera, cell phone) if you go sledding. A ziploc bag would be helpful.
- Trip Date: September 2019
- Name: Monahan Sandhills State Park
- Location: Monahans, Texas, USA.
- Fee: $
- Family-friendly: yep