Love the thrill of downhill sports? Lose your woolly socks andthermal fleece and get ready for sandboarding—arguably the coolestnew way to have fun on a beach or desert getaway.
Kids have long been sledding down sand dunes on pieces ofcardboard and plastic snow sleds. But in recent years, surfers andout-of-season snowboarders have taken it to the next level withsandboarding—riding down dunes on boards and sleds made out of aslicker material that glides on sand.
Want to try sandboarding or sand sledding on your next getaway?A waxed snowboard or snow saucer will probably do. If your kids areup for serious careening, then you’ll want to rent boards and sledsmade specifically for sand.
While this emerging sport is a natural fit for beachdestinations, some of the best places to try sandboarding and sandsledding may surprise you. (Michigan and Colorado? Who knew?) Hereare five of the best dune destinations in the UnitedStates:
Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve: Mosca,CO
An 83,000-acre hunk of desert might be the last thing you’dexpect to find in Colorado, but Great Sand Dunes National Parkfeels like the Sahara was plopped down in the middle of theRockies. Rising 750 feet, the tallest sand dunes in North Americaare a four-hour drive south of Denver.The park allows year-round sand sledding, sandboarding and sandskiing anywhere there is no vegetation. You can rent boards at theOasis Store, just outside the park entrance, from April throughOctober, before heading off the beaten path. It’s athree-quarter-mile trek from the parking lot to the first dunes, sobe sure to bring ample food, water, and sunscreen. After a day ofsledding, reward yourself and the kids with a hot mineral soak orswim at family-friendly Sand Dunes Swimming Pool in Hooper, a30-minute drive from the park.
Jockey's Ridge State Park: Nags Head, NC
According to Sandboard Magazine, Jockey'sRidge on North Carolina’s OuterBanks offers the best sandboarding on the East Coast. The areais rightfully world-famous for kite flying and hang gliding, andthe Wright brothers took flight in nearby Kitty Hawk. Sand dunesledding is a casual affair here, with kids of all ages sliding oncardboard and body boards throughout the year. Sandboarding,however, requires a permit and is allowed October throughMarch.
Sand Master Park: Florence, OR
Billed as the world’s first sandboard park, this 4o-acre venueon Oregon’s central coast caters to sand lovers of all ages and ilk. Take afree sand-sculpting clinic and then build your masterpiece in thestate’s largest sand box, challenge yourself with a privatesandboard lesson, or traverse the dunes on a family dune buggytour. It’s all about the sand here, but the surf is just fiveminutes away.
Silver Lake State Park: Mears, MI
Collectively named one of “America’s Best Little Beach Towns” byTravel + Leisure magazine, the Silver Lake Sand Dunes Area—Michigan’cs most popular summer haunts. Between Lake Michigan and Silver Lakelie 2,000 acres of natural, lofty sand dunes that are a mecca foroff-road driving, as the only dunes east of Utah allowing privatemotorized vehicles. Your family can have fun sandboarding andsledding with rental gear from The Sandbox in Silver Lake. Beyondthe dunes, this area was made for lazy summer days punctuated bylighthouses, farmers’ markets, tree-lined bike paths, and watersports galore.
Marina State Beach and Dunes Preserve: Marina,CA
Located 10 miles north of Monterey,off Highway 1, Marina State Beach boasts some of the Californiacoast’s tallest dunes and is a magnet for kite flyers and hanggliders. The easy-does-it dunes are perfect for families with youngkids that want to combine a day at the beach with sliding down thesand. More experienced sandboarders can head to The Pit in SandCity or the dunes in Seaside.
Kristi Marcelle, a Californiabased-freelance writer, contributed this toMiniTime.com.
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