The last time I rode the Coral Pink Sand Dunes was in the spring of 2015. I wrote an article about dinosaur tracks and clumps of ponderosa pine that dot the dunes. It was a great ride.
When my friend Willis Little of Fruit Heights suggested a ride in those same dunes, I thought I knew what to expect. I had no idea how wrong I was.
Finding accommodations in Kanab, which is close to the dunes, we were greeted with great fall weather. Leaving our motel, we headed north on Highway 89, turning west on Hancock Road toward the dunes. Arriving at the Lamb Springs Road, we stopped and staged for our ride.
The Lamb Springs Road is a trail that travels along the east side of the dunes. While the trail was sandy, it was dotted with challenging rock ledges that reminded me of our ride on the Hog Canyon Trail the day before.
Having spent time on the west side of the dunes, I was interested in the views toward the east. Those views were up a sandy slope to a line of trees. I was always curious about what might be on that east side.
Now I was satisfying that curiosity. As we rode southeast, I got glimpses through the trees of the dunes as they sloped down to Sand Road.
We soon found a good access point to the dunes near the Sand Springs Campground. Overseen by the Bureau of Land Management, this primitive campground is fairly secluded. We spent a little time exploring the dunes in this area. However, Willis had an agenda, so we moved on.
Coming to our most southwestern point on this ride, we found ourselves in a cluster of large sandstone mounds that looked like beehives. As you might guess, this area was called “The Beehives,” and it was a good place to stop for lunch.
Wandering among these sandstone monoliths was an interesting activity. These geologic features are fascinating. They were here and nowhere else.
We were left to wonder why as we backtracked to the main trail. We took a track northeast and parallel to the one we had come in on. This road was lined with juniper trees and manzanita bushes and the sky was an azure blue. While it was wide enough for a truck, the foliage gave the trail a feeling of isolation.
The route was deeply rutted as it began descending into a canyon, which challenged our riding skills. Willis got too high on a rutted slope and tipped his machine on its side. He was not hurt and his machine was alright so we moved on.
Reaching the end of the trail, which was a turn-around, Willis invited us to take a hiking path a little way down into the canyon. It was rather steep, but we had trees and limbs to hold on to as we made our way down the trail.
It finally leveled off and we found ourselves on a flat shelf with a rock overhang high overhead. There was some Indian rock art on the walls, but the floor of this dwelling featured several large boulders with curious divots.
Native Americans ground corn on a rock with a concave surface called a “metate.” The stone used in conjunction with the metate to grind the corn was called a “mono.” The surface of the metate became more concave in the process.
These large boulders were used to grind corn as they were marked with multiple deep divots created by the use of mono stones to make a meal for their families. The divots were close together, so in my imagination I could envision the corn-grinding event as a social occasion with more than one person gathered at the large stone for that purpose.
I paused for a moment to look out of the cave at the view these people would have had as they went about their daily activities. These things have a spirit about them — the metates, the rock art and the view all made for a special experience in that cave.
Leaving the cave, we made our way back, finishing a ride of about 30 miles. When you go, take plenty of water, keep the rubber side down and enjoy a walk among “The Beehives” and the Native American dwelling.