Monahans Sandhills State Park
Texas - USA

Dunes Over 60 Feet Tall are Inviting Surfing West-Texas Style

Monahans Sandhills State Park

Box 1738
Monahans TX 79756
Monahans Sandhills State Park consists of 3840 acres of sand dunes, some up to 70 feet high, in Ward and Winkler Counties, about a half-hour's drive west of Odessa. The land was leased in 1956 by the state from a private foundation (Sealy-Smith Foundation) until 2056 and was opened in 1957. More than 400 years ago, Spanish explorers were the first Europeans to report the vast hills of sand. Man was present in this area as far back as 12,000 years ago. Later, various Indian tribes used the area for temporary campgrounds and a meeting place, finding game, abundant fresh water beneath the sands, acorns, and mesquite beans available for grinding into paste with their stone tools. The area remained a favorable environment for Indians until the 1880s, when the Texas and Pacific Railroad selected Monahans as a water stop between the Pecos River and the town of Big Spring. In the late 1920s, oil production began in the area, now commonly known as the Permian Basin, and today Monahans is a marketing center for more than 800 square miles of oil and cattle country.

Park Activities:

Activities include camping; hiking; picnicking; bird; and wildlife watching from the interpretive center windows, as they come to the watering stations; and sand surfing.


There is dune tour in a 4 x 4 utility vehicle; a nature trail tour; and the museum tour. Tour fees apply.

The Park's Facilities:

Available facilities include campsites with water; electricity, and shade shelters; campsites with water for tent campers; an equestrian day-use area of approximately 600 acres (has staging area with hitching posts and water for horses); a group dining hall (constructed in 1903 first used as a railroad section house) with a kitchen and a restroom; an interpretive center with restrooms and a snack machine; a self-guided, 1/4-mile nature trail; and one working oil well. The Group Dining Hall is available for family reunions, birthday parties, etc. Also, there are picnic sites with shade shelters; a group picnic pavilion; a trailer dump station; and restrooms with showers (heated in the winter). Sand toboggans and disks can be rented at park headquarters. Take time to stop by the Texas State Park Store.


The park is only a small portion of a dune field that extends about 200 miles from south of Monahans westward and north into New Mexico. Most of these dunes are stabilized by vegetation, but the park is one area where many dunes are still active. Active dunes grow andchange shape in response to seasonal, prevailing winds, so the visitor may experience a dynamic landscape.

Fresh water occurs at shallow depths within the dunefield and sometimes stands in shallow ponds in low areas between dunes. A quiet vigil near such ponds at dusk or dawn is the best way to observe wildlife. Shinoak (Quercus havardii), one of the plants which stabilize the dunes, is not a stunted or dwarfed form of a larger tree but a fully mature plant which bears an abundance of large acorns and usually stands less than four feet tall.


To reach the park, travel Interstate 20 and Exit Mile Marker #86 to Park Road 41.

Elevation, Weather, and Schedule Information:

Elevation: 2,724.67. Weather: Average January minimum 29; average July maximum 96; average annual rainfall 12.3. Open: 7 days a week year-round. Busy Season: March through August.

Area Attractions:

Points of interest nearby include Balmorhea State Park; Million Barrel Museum in Monahans; the Odessa Meteor Crater, a national, natural landmark; and the Cities of Midland and Odessa.

Camping fees vary; entrance fee. For reservations, call 512/389-8900. For more details, call the park or Park Information at 1-800-792-1112.

For more information visit the links below:

Monahans State Park