7 incredible sand dunes to explore around the US

The U.S. is known for its collection of diverse terrain and topography that could keep explorers occupied for a lifetime.

You’ve been to the lakes, you’ve floated down rivers, but have you turned your attention to the softly undulating, massive rolling sand dunes?

Desert season is just around the corner, but these seven sand dune spots around the U.S. are epic year-round. Find inspiration for your next adventure at some of our favorites.

Oregon Sand Dunes National Recreation Area

The Oregon Sand Dunes seem never ending in the best possible way. Photo: Katie Rodriguez

The Oregon Sand Dunes National Recreation Area is one of the most breathtaking portions of the state’s overwhelming natural diversity. The dunes rise out of the trees when you least expect them, and offer panoramic views of the coast to the west, and the mountains to the east.

Sandboarding, ATVs and hiking are all allowed on the dunes, which, aside from those pursuits, offer an array of wildlife and plant life that can keep visitors occupied for days (even weeks) on end.

Dumont Dunes, California

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Just outside of Baker, California, the Dumont Dunes are on anyone’s list who considers themselves a fan of off-roading. The dunes are available as an area for off-roading, as well as hiking, camping and rock climbing.

Bordered by the Amargosa River, as well as volcanic hills, the dunes are unique in their composition, and easily recognized.

Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

A whole new perspective. Photo: Lionello Delpiccolo/Unsplash

The Great Sand Dunes National Park is one of the most well-known dune formations in the U.S., and are the tallest dunes in North America.

The park and preserve offer a plethora of activities, from wildlife watching to hiking, as well as sand sledding, camping and general exploration.

After generations of being a centerpiece of pride for inhabitants close to the dunes and naturalists the world over, the area was turned into a park and preserve in the early 2000s.

White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

The 275 square miles of white sand that glisten and shimmer in New Mexico is known as the White Sands National Monument: one of the lesser-known natural wonders of the world.

Offering backcountry camping, bicycling, driving the dunes, hiking, horseback riding and more, the White Sands National Monument will appeal to those looking for an action-packed getaway, as well as those simply looking for a more relaxing, reflective experience.

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, Death Valley

Although most of us picture Death Valley as an endless horizon of softly rolling dunes rising from the ground, in reality only one percent of the area is covered with the dunes we imagine.

Part of that one percent portion are the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, one of the most easily accessible parts of the park.

According to the National Park Service, it consists of three types of dunes: crescent, linear and star shaped.

Algodones Dunes, California

Consisting of Glamis, Gordon’s Well, Buttercup and more, the Algodones Dunes stretch across the southeastern part of California, bordering on Arizona and Baja, California. The dunes are one of the most well-known spots for recreation in the country.

The term “Algodones” refers to the entire geographic region, but the area managed by the Bureau of Land Management is commonly referred to as the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area.

The area is undoubtedly a desert, so keep in mind that summer temperatures will be scorching.

The Outer Banks, North Carolina/Virginia

The Outer Banks hold a special place in many explorers’ hearts, due to their solitude, natural wonder and variety in terrain.

Located off the coast of North Carolina and southeastern Virginia, they are smaller in size than the rest of the dunes that make up this list. The sand dunes of the Outer Banks border the Atlantic Ocean, providing for an idyllic setting that juxtaposes two contrasting environments: the sea and the sand.

For those looking for a specific spot to see the dunes, Jockey’s Ridge is the tallest natural sand dune system in the Eastern U.S., and is also one of the most well-known landmarks on the Outer Banks.

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