Kelso Dunes – San Bernardino, California - Atlas Obscura

Kelso Dunes

The largest dune field in the Mojave offers a chance of hearing the 'singing sands.' 


When the dry winds and brutal rays dry up the vegetation that stabilizes the Kelso Sand Dunes, the sand begins to sing. 

45 square miles of quartz and feldspar, Kelso Dune Field is the largest of its kind in the Mojave Desert. With dunes rising as high as 650 ft., the shifting, singing dunes are part of a much larger sand system, much of which is protected by the Mojave National Preserve. 

To encourage the sands to sing their song, visitors climb to the top of the crests and slide slowly down the dunes—this creates a low rumbling “song” that can not only be heard, but can also be felt vibrating through the ever shifting ground. 

This phenomenon has been discovered in several more dunes around the world, including California’s Eureka DunesSand Mountain in Fallon, Nevada, and the Booming Dunes of the Badain Jaran Desert. No matter where you go to make the sands sing, visit when things are at their driest— the drier the climate, the bigger the boom. 

Eureka Dunes in California, Sand Mountain in Nevada, and the Booming Dunes in the Namib Desert, Africa. The booming is much more pronounced when the dunes are extremely dry.

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July 8, 2013

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