The [Small] Dunes of Monahans

This post was originally published back in 2018 when the odometer read 172710 as part of the On the Road segment. The story has been revised for quality purposes because we felt like it and is now apart of Texas Trails and Tales. Deal with it.

Monahans is a town out in the western portion of the state of Texas. Quite a few of the tales and trails take place out there because when I started writing full time, I was working fuller time in the Oil and Gas industry. Now, if you are unfamiliar with Texas, you should know that it is a quirky place full of quirky people. Everyone has differing opinions when it comes to the nomenclature of geography.

Just like a compass rose with its cardinal and intercardinal directions, you have a bit of the same business going on when talking about the Republic. Sure, there is West Texas. Hell, there’s even a West, Texas. As confusing as that sounds, it gets better. West Texas the region can actually split into two different subregions: West Texas and Far West Texas. Why? West Texas has a reputation of being the oil patch part, and depending on your flavor, it might night be too pretty to look at. That’s not me, but some people out there really hate sand. Far West Texas, as I’ve been told is when you start getting out into the mountainous regions and the Big Bend country.

But it doesn’t end there, as the whole state is screwed up. Outsiders might call Houston East Texas, which would piss off all of the Easterners and their pine forests. Some people call Dallas and the like North Texas, to which the Panhandlers say that’s nothing but South Oklahoma. Where is Austin? Who cares? Then, there’s South Texas, which I claim when telling people where I’m from because if the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department says if you are south of I-10, you are in the south zone. Then, when people from the bottom tip of Texas or the Valley hear that, they say we don’t know what south is. If you catch the drift, the whole state is just trying to out-Texas each other and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Now, what does any of this has to do with sand dunes in Monahans. Nothing, other than let you know that it is in West Texas, which after reading the above paragraphs could mean that is anywhere from I-20 to I-35. Also, you might have noticed the bit about these being the smaller dunes. That’s because there is a State Park in town that is actually called Monahans Sandhills State Park, but that’s not where we are talking about today. That’s a different story entirely.

Outside of town, on the main road into Monahans, you can veer eastward on FM 1233 and hop along the road for a handful of miles. The dunes in question are located about ¼ of a mile before the intersection of FM 1233 and FM 1035.

Here in this little patch of sand, you can start to get the feel for the region. Tall mounds of sand offering little hold for vegetation. Old pumpjacks, rusted yet reliable, litter the area like industrial monuments, occasionally bobbing up and down. Those machines tell the history of the area, while the newer painted models, which dwarf the old ones, pave the way for the future. A labyrinth of pipes has emerged as the winds have blown some of the sand way.

Where industry meets life, there is evidence of the peoples that populated the area. Generations worth of beer bottle, cigarette cartons, and soda cans are almost like fossils. That’s not to say that this place is a litter dump, just that the winds out here carry that kind of stuff for miles. What is there one day, might be gone the next.

Now, this place is a great place to look at, but it is not recommended that you actually do any sort of exploring or recreation out here. The place is just something neat to see, especially if it is not something that you are used to. There are oil wells, which have heavy moving parts and harmful gas that could be hanging around. There are glass bottles and exposed pipes. You might even get stuck if you get off the road and aren’t prepared. This is not a playground. More importantly, it is not a State Park. But there is a state park in Monahans. There, you can slide down the hills on sleds, hike, picnic, or anything else you want to do.

Bet you didn’t think you were going to get a geography lesson and a lecture while trying to read an adventure post that had like two chapters about sand dunes. Well, that’s because there’s not much to do here, more of a cool sight. This is the first one on the list of places I’m revisiting, so I wanted to give you a breakdown of the regions of the state as well as give you a disclaimer. Most of the places I travel to are out in nature and should be treated as such.

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