Once regarded as a mystical and sacred place by ancient Indians, Monahans Sandhills State Park is one of the most enchanting state parks in Texas.
Comprising 3,840 acres of golden rolling sands, peaks and valleys, they stretch for almost 200 miles northwest until they hit New Mexico. It’s a site so stunning, you could be forgiven for thinking you were on another planet.
Home to a diverse range of wildlife, which includes feral hogs and javelinas as well as several species of birds, the park offers visitors plenty of opportunity to enjoy its incredible terrain.
The likes of hiking, sand surfing, geocaching and horseback riding are all very popular here, and the region is full of fascinating Native American artifacts and history.
A very remote destination to get to, the likes of Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio are all over 5 hours drive away. The closest towns are Monahans and Odessa.
However, for those who want to linger within this ocean of sand, there is a lovely campground with full hookups for RVs and trailers which you can base yourself at.
During their time at the park, visitors are able to engage in a wide range of outdoor recreational pursuits.
Outlined below is just a handful of some of the main activities you can do.
Sand Dunes at Monahans Sandhills State Park
One of the best ways to explore these ancient sand dunes is on foot, and with around 3,840 acres of it to cover you can really take your time doing so.
The sheer size of the dunes, rising to up to 50 feet is mesmerizing, so be sure to bring your camera with you as you’ll definitely want to take lots of photos.
It’s imperative you take lots of water with you and wear a hat. You might even want to bring lunch with you when you walk the dunes as well.
If you can, try and go there at sunset when the dusk hues give the area a really magical vibe.
Sand surfing at Monahans Sandhills State Park
Sand surfing on sand disks is by far the most popular thing to do at the park. Similar to snowboarding or sledding, you can zip down the steep sand hills at good speed, navigating several twists and turns along the way.
You’ll need to hike to the top of the dunes in order to do this, whilst carrying your disk, but as the descent is so much fun, you’ll want to do it again and again!
Sand disks can be rented from the Dunagan Visitor Center, if you didn’t bring one with you.
Horseback Riding at Monahans Sandhills State Park
If you don’t fancy walking the dunes you could always choose to explore them on horseback.
Unfortunately the park does not rent horses, so be sure to bring your own. But there are handy and well equipped campgrounds for them to stay at.
The great thing about horseback riding at Monahans is that you can ride them wherever you want. Pretty much wherever you go, you can expect sand, a few mesquite trees and some brush.
Birding at Monahans Sandhills State Park
The park is home to a diverse range of birdlife which attracts ornithologists from all over Texas.
Many of these species are permanent residents, while others appear during the spring or fall migration.
Depending on what time of the year you are there, you can expect to see the likes of scaled quail, eastern phoebe, ladder-backed woodpecker, American coot, chihuahuan raven and cactus wren.
Nature & Wildlife
As well as the impressive sand dunes, the park is notable for its shin oaks (Quercus havardii) that stabilize them. When fully matured they stand about 4 feet tall and bear many big acorns.
As well as several different species of birds, the park is home to a wide range of wildlife including badgers, javelinas, kangaroo rats, wood rats (pack rats), feral hogs and Jerusalem crickets.
Pets at Monahans Sandhills State Park
You are welcome to bring your dog with you to the park, although they will have to be supervised and restrained at all times during your stay.
Some other restrictions also apply, so if you would like to bring your pooch with you, it would be a good idea to call the park’s main office to determine what they are.
Camping at Monahans Sandhills State Park
For those who want to stay overnight at the park, the Willow Draw Campground is a terrific place to bring your RV or trailer.
Offering 26 standard campsites, all of which can accommodate up to eight people, all their campsites come with hookups for water and 50-amp electricity. They also each feature a BBQ grill, shade shelter, picnic table and a fire ring. While restrooms with showers and a dump station are situated nearby them.
A few of these sites can accommodate rigs of up to 65 feet, although most of them can fit rigs between 35 and 50 feet. All sites are pet-friendly and they are a mix of pull-through or back in driveways.
In addition to this small campground there are three different equestrian campsites available too. Each of these sites can house two vehicles and up to eight people.
Please note, no pens or stalls are provided for horses and guests must bring their own temporary fencing or panels.
These paved back-in sites come with electric and water hookups and can fit trailers of around 50-55 feet.
Tents are not allowed on these sites, and as there is not much in the way of shade, you might want to bring a pop-up shade canopy with you as well.
Monahans Sandhills State Park
Exit 86, 2500 I-20
Monahans, TX 79756
Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Monahans Sandhills State Park:
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