Millions of years ago, the area now known as Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park was a rich and lush landscape with plenty of vegetation and wildlife. The dinosaurs that roamed the area were part of an ancient ecosystem that eventually disappeared. Over time, this ancient ecosystem began to deteriorate due to exposure to wind, water erosion, and seismic activity. This caused large sections of the landscape to be covered in loose, pink-colored sand.
The first indication of the sand dunes' existence dates back to a journal entry made in 1866 by the Reverend Jesse N. Smith, an early Mormon explorer who used the area to camp while traveling through Southern Utah. He noted that "the most singular and beautiful feature" was the sand dunes, which he described as being pinkish in hue.
The area was later claimed by settlers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) in 1875. For the next 70 years, the sand dunes were used as a source of livelihood and recreation, primarily by members of the church. Cattle were grazed on the land and sheepherders watched their flocks, taking advantage of the abundant forage.
In 1945, the area was recognized by the federal government as worthy of conservation and protection when it was made a part of the Wayne National Forest. This included both state and private land owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In 1962, a BLM survey determined that the area contained unique formations of pink-colored sand dunes, and it was soon declared a protected area.
Establishment as a State Park
In 1963, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) established Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park for the preservation and enjoyment of unique geological features. The park includes 3,000 acres of spectacular red and pink-colored sand dunes that have been monitored and protected to ensure their future preservation.
Events and Recreation
In the early 1900s, the sand dunes were used as a filming location for several silent movies and Westerns. The location was also popular among Native Americans who would use it for spiritual ceremonies and healing rituals. In the years after becoming a state park, Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park has been featured in several films, commercials and documentaries. The dunes have also become a popular recreation site for camping, hiking, off-roading and photography. The park is open year-round and offers visitors a diverse range of activities, including horseback riding, sandboarding, kayaking and ATV riding.