Tag Archives: international visitors

ATV’s and Landscape Photography Like Mixing Water and Oil

9 Jul

Just so you know, there won’t be any pictures on this post as I don’t like to shoot four-wheel tracks. This is a spontaneous blog as I wanted to write about Utah’s crown jewel today, but I changed the topic while doing research on my top 10 parks for summer travel  series while coming across this newspaper article. Instead, we are discussing a particular state park located just outside of the eastern entrance to Zion National Park near Kanab called the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park.

I’ve been fortunate to visit dunes like the Mesquite Flats in Death Valley National Park as well as the Kelso Dunes in the Mohave Desert National Preserve , and let me tell you the coral pink dunes are every bit as scenic and grand as those. These dunes are extremely impressive. Honestly, they don’t really look pink until about ten minutes before sunset, but there are some spectacular trees, plants, and flowers, amongst the large, rolling dunes with excellent distant views to boot. This is one cool place. Unfortunately, there is one large non-geological difference between these dunes and the aforementioned ones in California. It has to do with rules and regulations… yep, you guessed it at the Coral Pink Sand Dunes ATVs and their drivers scurry across the sand like ants on ant hill.

Here is my issue with this: I believe the state is allowing a relatively small group of individuals to basically ruin the experience for most other people. (And I am not even talking about the environmental and physical impact and consequences these machines have on the land) At the Coral Pink Sand Dunes, it’s not just a small, designated area for the ATV riders to enjoy; it is pretty much the whole darn park, including its highest and most scenic dunes. Can you believe it? Clad in helmets and racing suits they zoom up the sides of the dunes like skateboarders on a half-pipe. For an avid nature lover, experiencing this is very annoying and frustrating; you can forget about doing any hiking in the park because you’ll most likely get run over and killed.  

What’s even worse is the noise pollution, so not only can you not do any exploring, one can’t even sit back and peacefully enjoy the views because there is so much unsettling noise. Before I went to the Coral Pink Sand Dunes, I thought areas like this were for natural relaxation to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life and technology; not listening to what sounds like a high-pitched lawn mower screech across the desert. Now that I think about it, while they are at it, why don’t they just set up a shooting range there and let all the gun-toting enthusiasts come in and blast things up too.

On the flip side, there is one group in particular that I feel especially bad for, who I think get the real short end of the stick here. If you have ever been to a national park in Utah then you’ve probably seen lots of these folks. Its out international friends from Germany and other countries that predominately come to these places. Seriously, these people are paying a lot of money to come to this country specifically to visit these out-of-the-way places. Small town, locally owned businesses around these parks absolutely depend on these types of tourists for their existence.

 My guess is anywhere between 40 – 60% of park visitors at any point in time in Utah are from a countries other than the United States. Now, I know these people aren’t towing ATVs over from Europe and my unsubstantiated hunch is they probably aren’t renting them much either. I just can’t image the aggravation of traveling (that’s flying and driving) literally thousands of miles to come a place to enjoy its natural beauty – only to have it ruined by the rules and regulations of that country’s or state’s government. Were not talking about a 3rd or 4th world nation here, but the good ol’  US of A. The country who invented the idea of a national park.

This again leads me to my point for the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park – why bite the hand that feeds you?  Why give so much power and authority to the ATV users? Well, anyone who has spent some time in the area will notice what a huge marketing ploy ATV use and rentals really are. My guess is the consumer market for this brand of entertainment is a totally different type of person. It’s unfortunate because it appears that ATV riding is extremely popular. Now I am wondering how long before the government takes this to the next level and allows them in national parks too. Now, that’s a scary thought! In conclusion, trying to allow ATV users and photographers/hikers to simultaneously enjoy the same tract of publicly owned land just doesn’t blend –  is like mixing oil and water  and it is unfortunate at the Coral Pink Sand Dunes my group is on the wrong side of the equation.

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