These facts about dunes will blow you away

Originally published at: These facts about dunes will blow you away | Boing Boing


Spent yesterday at Warren Dunes State Park in Sawyer, Michigan:

It has the highest natural (as opposed to perched*) sand dune in the state (a state surrounded by four of the five Great Lakes, so there are a lot of dunes): 260 feet. The path to get to the highest point has two approaches, both basically straight up. The sand is like ooblek to walk/climb in.

*The cheater’s way to get higher: Perched dunes


Music for relaxing and learning about dunes to:

  1. I first kissed a girl at the Indiana Sand Dunes State Park in 1966.

  2. The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is a wonderful place.


If you ever have the opportunity, watch a sunset in White Sands National Park.


You don’t have to travel to Morocco to see/hear “singing” dunes. The Kelso dunes here in CA “boom” when the humidity is low enough. (although GirlChild thinks the “booming” is kinda Farty sounding…)

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And if you can; get up ridiculously early in the freezing cold to see the sun come up over the colossal, rust-red dunes of the Namib. If you do it in a balloon you even have a legitimate reason to drink champagne for breakfast.


I tried sandboarding once, and definitely recommend it, but keep in mind that sand is firmer/harder than snow. Make sure you know how to fall safely - my wife bruised her tailbone that way, and it took over a year to fully heal. It also made for a very long last few hundred miles of our road trip.


One of my favorite sand dune facts concerns how they move. I had always assumed that a crescent (barchan) dune moves forward from fat middle first, trailing the pointy ends behind it like two tails. But it’s the opposite! The wind blows the pointy points forward more easily, because there’s less mass there. The higher sand follows down because of gravity, and over the course of time, the sand dune moves, the smaller crescent points leading the way.

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Is that how you’re supposed to do it? I’m not sure if my family has forgiven me yet for taking them out to the Kelso dunes for a sledding trip last year. That hike up to the top was pretty epic.

Go to White Sands. The gypsum doesn’t pack down as solidly as actual sand does, and when you stand up and brush it off, it actually falls away easily!

Presumably in that case you need someone to drive the dune buggy back down after you, too?

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