It's 9 a.m. when we drive a Yamaha Rhino 660 onto the flourlike sand of Coral Pink Sand Dune State Park and out of sight of our Ford F-350 Super Duty Crew Cab 4x4. On the back of the truck is a Lance camper, which serves as our home on wheels during this adventure.
Coral Pink is a seven-mile-long, half-mile-wide sliver of southwestern Utah real estate. It's at the base of the famous Utah Steps, a geological formation of Navajo sandstone that leads into Zion National Park to the northwest and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument to the northeast.
The dune complex is actually a valley in a deep notch between the Moquith Mountains to the east and the Moccasin Mountains to the north. Its location serves as a natural collection area for the fine sands blown off the surrounding mountains' steep red cliffs and outcroppings.
The lower 1200 acres are under the protection of the Utah State Parks Department; the larger, upper portion of the dunes and the surrounding land are under BLM control.
The park itself is a year 'round recreational area, perfect for those who enjoy playing with their motorized toys in a giant sandbox. Well, maybe not year 'round. "Spring, early summer, and fall are really the most ideal times to ride in the Pink," says Michael Frank, the park's head ranger. "During the heat of summer, temperatures can easily top 100 degrees. That kind of heat, combined with our altitude (6000-foot elevation) can make it uncomfortable for those who aren't used to such conditions."