Since it was December, the place was nearly deserted. No one was parked in the huge parking lot, the visitor center was closed, and we saw only a handful of vehicles.
It also worked out that we had wanted to go sledding and actually had sleds in the back of the van. There was just enough snow on the dunes, so we pulled out the sleds and started hiking.
The quartz sand, blown into the dunes from the prevailing southwestern winds and the preponderance of sand left behind from the Sevier River flowing into Lake Bonneville, was moist, which made it easier to walk on.
We heard a few ATVs and motorcycles, so we tried to make ourselves obvious. There were a number of tracks through the snow.
Finally we came to a big hill, and Desert Boy was delighted to give it a go. One of the best things about sledding on sand dunes--no fear of big rocks!
He slowed down a bit when he got to the sand, but still slid a ways.
Next it was time for Desert Girl and my husband.
I really wanted to climb to the top of Sand Mountain, so I left them sledding and headed up higher, admiring the variety of textures in the sand and the trails left through both snow and sand.
A couple motorcycle riders got to the top a lot faster than me!
There were lots of animal tracks--fox, deer, rodent. These rodent tracks were a little different than I had seen before, and they led to this little hole, about one-inch across.
The late afternoon winter sun made for some great lighting.
When I reached the top of the ridge, I was a bit surprised by the clear division between rock and sand.
As I climbed along the ridge, I admired the lengths that some plants went to in order to survive. The root system on this shrub was amazing.
At the top of the ridge I found this flag. Looking to the northwest I could see the White Sand Dunes, a section of dunes shorter than the 700-foot tall Sand Mountain.
Looking to the south, I had a gorgeous view of the smaller dunes on the backside of Sand Mountain.
I could see that my husband and the kids had finished sledding, so I ran down the big sand dunes, pausing a couple times to take photos (of course!).
BLM website, along with a nice brochure to download that has a map of the area. With over 250 campsites plus primitive camping, this place can get really crowded. I'm not big into crowds, so I'm really glad that we got to experience during a quiet period, and the snow was an added bonus.
The sun was setting as we left, casting its last rays over the nearby railroad tracks.
The light show wasn't quite over. As we headed south, the sky turned pink, and the snow-covered mountains to the southeast reflected their glow. I couldn't resist, I had to pull over to the side of the road and take a photo! Again I am reminded of the beauty of this world.
Thanks for taking a look.