Monahans Sandhills State Park, Texas, USA.

Texas has three must-see natural wonders, Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Guadalupe Mountains National Park and Big Bend National Park. Being must-see, the aforementioned do not qualify as unusual destinations, but I think a handful of other natural wonders do, Monahans Sandhills State Park included.

Monahans Sandhills State Park is exactly what its name suggests, an area of sandhills which, in places, deceives you into thinking you have been transported to part of the Sahara Desert. By the time of our visit the temperature had risen to over 90 degrees fahrenheit and the sun shone from an almost cloudless sky. A combination of the heat and the light reflecting off the pale yellow sand made for an unforgettable visit, not least because very few other people were around. An excellent interpretation centre explains to visitors about the geology, history, flora and fauna of the area, and how the sandhills are constantly altered as the wind sculpts them. Occasionally, grasses and miniature havard oak trees help to bind some of the sandhills together, but there are also places where absolutely no vegetation exists. A nature trail near the interpretation centre provides an insight into the remarkable plants, wild flowers included, that somehow survive where the sandhills have yet to encroach. We learned that the havard oak and honey mesquite trees might grow only a few feet tall, but their roots can extend 60 feet underground to survive extreme droughts.

As we walked over the sandhills, we saw that a lot of animal tracks and burrows exist, indicating that various creatures live in the inhospitable environment, rattlesnakes included. We also came across a still-operating, large nodding donkey overlooking a picnic area.

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