One of the oldest and most extensive dune fields
in the West, the Kelso Dune complex rises more
than 600 feet above the desert floor and covers
more than 45 square miles. The dunes before you
are a small portion of a larger sand transport
system known as the Kelso Dunes.
Walk to the top of the dunes for a wonderful
view of the dune system created during the
past 25,000 years.
Sand Transport System
Prevailing winds from the northwest
create the dunes. As the winds move
over the Mojave River Sink, they blow
sand across a 20 mile sandfield known
as Devil's Playground.
As the sands reach the Granite
and Providence mountains, they
move upward, dropping their sand
load to form the Kelso Dunes.
The dunes at Kelso have the rare
ability to "boom." The sound occurs
when sheets of sand cascade down
a steep dune and rub against the
stationary sand below, causing them
to vibrate, like a musical instrument.
Only about 30 dunes around the
world are known to create this
sound. The booming is similar to
the drone of a low-flying airplane.