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Review of Kelso Dunes

Kelso Dunes
Ranked #1 of 6 things to do in Essex
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Owner description: One of the areas in California where one can view the unique aspects of sand dunes.
Provincetown, Massachusetts
Level 6 Contributor
683 reviews
323 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 321 helpful votes
Reviewed April 24, 2014

As you travel north on Kelbaker Rd. you can't help but notice the Kelso Dunes to the left. They loom in the distance like something out of the Sahara Desert, of Lawrence of Arabia! My understanding is that they have been formed over thousands of years by the wind funneling between the Providence and New York Mountains. They are an amazing sight. The road leading to the dunes is a rough ride and takes a bit of time, climbing the dunes is worth the effort. It may not suit anyone with a fear of heights, the tops ten to be narrow, less then two feet. I loved it! The view is spectacular and the accomplishment is rewarding. It is primitive so it is necessary to bring supplies. It is nearly three hours from Palm Springs. From the south Twenty Nine Palms is your real last chance for gas and food, though there are supplies in Amboy!

Visited April 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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48 reviews from our community

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san francisco
Level 5 Contributor
74 reviews
34 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 39 helpful votes
“Kelso dunes highlight of our trip”
Reviewed April 9, 2013

This was my family's favorite activity of our 2 thousand mile trip around the southwest. The dunes are difficult to hike but worth it. It isn't like climbing a mountain with a clear top and bottom; it is up and down and up and down until you reach the top. However, even my 6 year old made it and so did I! The photos ops are great as another reviewer said and the view are great when you get to the crest of the dunes. Just remember these *are* sand dunes so our shoes were full of sand and when you take a step you go up but slide back down with each step. It took us almost 3 hours. And remember though, coming down is much easier and faster.

Visited April 2013
1 Thank aatimes2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Riverside, California
Level 3 Contributor
16 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
“An amazing experience in the middle of nowhere”
Reviewed March 11, 2012

As part of a desert field trip we visited the Kelso Sand Dunes and they were awe inspiring. It didn't take us long to hike to the top - maybe 40 minutes - but it is steep and was quite a workout. We were there in February, so the weather was perfect for that type of activity and I wouldn't recommend going there in the summer unless you have quite a bit of desert experience and even more water.

Once our group of about 15 people made it to the top, we went straight down the side. It looks intimidating because of how steeply it drops, but the loose sand was easy to walk in. Because we took that route, we were able to hear a good 10-15 minutes of the "booming" and it was amazing.

While in the area, be sure to also check out the lava tubes, and bring lots of water and a camera. The nearby Kelso Depot has a lunch counter that is a quick and friendly place to grab a bite to eat.

Visited February 2012
1 Thank JaySees
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Rocklin, California
Level 5 Contributor
34 reviews
9 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 43 helpful votes
“Amazing Dunes. Get there early and bring water.”
Reviewed July 18, 2009

First saw them around 1pm and realized that I would need to arrive early and with water to hike these dunes. Not right by road like dunes in Death Valley. Came back next morning aroun 6am.

It's a great hike. Beautiful dunes. easy to follow trail or footsteps of others. Great views as you climb. I got within about 50 feet of the top. But the sans is very loose and hard to climb the rest of the way. But up there is where they get the name "booming sand dunes"

Get up there and make the sand cascade down by stepping hard on the sand. You'll hear a rumbling sound. Pretty amazing. Oh, and when I was out there, I didn't see anyone else. So the serenity was nice too.


4 Thank sacking
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 3 Contributor
13 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
“very cool”
Reviewed March 26, 2008

Only made it up 2/3 of the way to the highest dune, but wow. I just didn't have time. You'll need 3 hours for the climb, and water.

2 Thank kcsims99
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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