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KANAB — You know that feeling get just after you start falling fast?
Terri Metzger does.
"I don't like to do the Ferris wheels and the rides at the park, but coming here and getting that little 'woo' in your stomach? That's what is fun,” said Metzger with a laugh.
Yeah, that "woo" is common at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park near Kanab, Utah, where you can jump on your four-wheeler and have about as much as fun as you dare.
The park has several big and small pink-colored sand dunes, the largest more than 300 feet high.
"This is very unique. It's kind of a big long strip. It's about 3,000 acres, and it's just the most fabulous sand,” Metzger, who is now a paid seasonal worker at the park after volunteering two years ago.
The guy in charge of all this fun just might have the coolest job in Utah.
"It's not bad,” said Michael Franklin, after getting off a four-wheeler to do an interview.
His park name badge says Michael Franklin, “but everybody knows me as Frank,” he says with a laugh.
Frank has worked at Coral Sand Dunes State Park for 15 years and can tell you almost anything about the sand dunes.
One interesting story is how they form.
“Underneath each dune is how it started,” said Franklin. “It could be a rock, could be a plant, could actually be a dead animal at one point that just slowly got covered up with sand and grown and grown and grown.”
Yes, he said a dead animal.
“It’s all because of the wind that cuts in between the two mountains there and deposits the sand here,” said Franklin.
This is very unique. It's kind of a big long strip. It's about 3,000 acres, and it's just the most fabulous sand.
–Terri Metzger, seasonal park worker
The wind is why the sand dunes are here, and they change all the time.
"The thing about sand dunes is you never know. They change daily. Sometimes they change hourly depending on the wind,” said Franklin.
Coral Pink Sand Dunes always has its loyal visitors, and many of them are repeat visitors who had ridden the dunes before.
However, when the federal government shut down two years ago it drastically helped visitation numbers for the park.
There are a lot of national parks near Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, and when visitors with planned vacations couldn’t go to the national parks, they decided to visit state parks.
"It was huge; really huge. We probably increased our visitation and revenue, oh, 10 times in two weeks, what we did usually for that quarter of the year,” said Franklin. “And many of those visitors have come back saying they never knew the place existed.”
Of course, you don't need a four-wheeler, dirt bike, or OHV to have fun here.
One family visiting the park for the first time spent a couple of hours climbing the sand dunes and then rolling down.
Besides sand, there are also tall trees growing. Hikers can borrow a GPS unit from the park visitor center and explore a section of the park where signs tell them how old a tree is and what was happening in the country at that time.
For example, one sign says a tree was born in 1882, the same year Alexander Graham Bell made his historic telephone call, and when the Heinz Company began patenting ketchup bottles.
“We wanted to give people who may not be into four-wheelers something they can do to enjoy the park,” said Franklin. “We try to do whatever we can to make sure our visitors have a good time. That’s what my job is all about: the people.” Contributing: Mike DeBernardo