This post was originally published on March 31st, 2019 as part of the On the Road segment. The story has been revised for quality purposes because we felt like it and is now a part of Texas Trails and Tales. Deal with it.
Sure, the small dunes of Monahans were pretty cool, but there wasn’t a whole lot to do there. Well, that’s where Monahans Sandhills State Park comes in. Just outside of town on I-20 lies the park and all the fun in the sun you could ask for.
My first trip here was in preparation for an upcoming excursion to the Davis Mountains. As I had been spending the last few months getting into some relative form of shape, mostly because Asado burritos had left me out of shape, I was ready to take my fully loaded hiking pack on a trial run. Me and my limited knowledge of fitness led me to believe that a heavy pack combined with sugar sand would be a good idea. But enough about that, let’s get to the adventure.
How neat it was to hike up and down the dunes! West Texas gets quite a bit of an unfair shake when it comes to its lack of perceived topography. Sure, if you’re looking at the place while coming from Colorado or Idaho or anywhere that has a mountain range, then yes West Texas is flat. But when you’re taking a sand hill loaded down with a pack, it sure doesn’t feel so level. The park is full of ever-changing dunes, built high up in places and sunk down low in others. I hiked around for about three hours and barely scratched the surface of the park, mostly because of the up and down nature of it and my aforementioned lack of wind.
But Monahans Sandhills has much more to offer than walkabouts. Surprisingly enough, there is a good deal of vegetation thrives in such an environment, as well as all sorts of critters. There were lizards, hot stepping on the sand during the sunny hours and so many Blue Quail. Just like their Bob White cousins, quail in general are among the most fun birds to watch. Every step they take, they strut and do so with much purpose. Equally as interesting as seeing actual animals was seeing all of the tracks in the sand. As the wind keeps the canvas routinely cleaned, the designs that are left behind by walking and wandering critters is an art all on its own.
Want to take the kids out [or get in touch with your inner child] for some sand surfing? The ranger station rents out sand discs that you can sit in and slide down the big dunes. I myself didn’t partake, but that was because I had slipped and rolled down all on my own while hiking and got sand everywhere. But the sledding looked a whole lot more fun than that. With the constant winds and lack of tall structures, Monahans Sandhills State Park is also a perfect place to fly a kite. There are also spots to bring your RV, many picnic areas, and even opportunities to bring your own horse for saddle back adventures.
Since I lived in Monahans for about a year, I found myself heading out to the park on a regular basis. After the hustle and bustle of a busy week, I’d usually head out there on Friday evenings with a sheet and my camera. Again, West Texas gets grief, some going so far as to call it ugly. I like to think that those people usually are just driving through. If you stick around for a little while, you’ll find that there aren’t many places around where you can take in such a beautiful sunset. Beauty is subjective, and often times you have to get off the beaten path to find it, and Monahans Sandhills State Park is a great place to do so.