The Samalayuca Sand Dunes – A Stop for Photos on the Road to Chihuahua City

a fence near the mexican border in the samalayuca dessert sand dunesThe drive across the flat, open road provided a sense of freedom heading deeper into Mexico. My adventure through Chihuahua was just beginning and I’d enjoy the scenic landscape the entire way to Chihuahua City. And in one part of the Chihuahua Desert a rare natural wonder exists – the Samalayuca Sand Dunes.

the mexcian railroad in the Chihuahua desertWhen the van approached the sand dunes visible from the highway, one of the fellow passengers, a local, suggested a spot to pull over to view them. We all agreed.

Suddenly a quick hike with great photo opportunities was added to the day’s agenda. And although you can see the dunes from the highway we needed to exit and walk a little for the best views. So many of us walked across railroad tracks and under a fence all in an effort to hike up a few sand dunes. And the effort was well worth it. Yes, we climbed a few of the Medanos de Samalayuca (Sand Dunes of Samalayuca).

Medanos de Samalayuca

view of the Chihuahua Samalayuca Dessert Sand Dunes

a view of the Samalayuca Sand Dunes in Chihuahua

Samalayuca-Sand Dunes in Chihuahua Mexico

Posing in the Samalayuca Sand Dunes of Chihuahua

To me, just as on my hike of the famous sand dunes of Sossusvlei, Namibia, it was the silence, stillness, and the feeling of nothingness out in the distant horizon that left the biggest impression. Yes, mother nature can be impressive. And she certainly is in Chihuahua.

Stay adventurous, Craig

I’d like to thank Dave from Authentic Copper Canyon, TravelLand and the Mexican Tourism Board  for making this journey and one of my dream trips inside Mexico a reality. Ah! Chihuahua!

Also, I’d like to thank Adam of Clothing Arts for allowing me to sample a pair of the Adventure Travel Pants (great name) on my trip through Chihuahua (see photo of me) They proved comfortable and provided a sense of safety for my belongings for my trip through Chihuahua. Adventure travelers ask Santa for a pair.




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  • JulikaSarah

    Great photos! Love the endlessness of the dunes against the blue sky!

    • craig zabransky

      So agree. Love them… stay adventurous, Craig

  • Maria Falvey

    Wow! I would think the “silence, stillness, and the feeling of nothingness out in the distant horizon” could be simultaneously overwhelming, perhaps angst provoking and beautiful.

    • craig zabransky

      the overwhelming aspect is what makes it beautiful at the same time… thanks for quoting my prose too…made me believe I still have can put together a few words that resonate with readers… stay adventurous, Craig

  • Ana Silva O’Reilly

    Fab photos Craig! Wow! And also lovely to finally meet you earlier this week. Happy Thanksgiving!

    • craig zabransky

      thanks, an yes, Fab to meet indeed. stay adventurous, Craig

  • Fiona Hilliard

    Great photos Craif – Mexico is so full of surprises, for me it was the cenotes near Merida that completely impressed me!:)

    • craig zabransky

      so agree, cenotes are SO impressive and magical too. Mexico certainly has its share of beauty. stay adventurous, Craig

  • Raul

    I have yet to climb some sand dunes. Namibia, Colorado -or Mexico- may be my first target!

  • Traveling Ted

    Sand dunes are very cool. We have a ton of these spots along the south shore and eastern shore of Lake Michigan not far from Chicago.

    • craig zabransky

      Michigan is always full of surprises… stay adventurous, Craig

  • Lazy Travelers

    so pretty!

  • The World of Deej

    Awesome stuff…Love the shot with the rail tracks.

  • The World Wanderer

    Beautiful sand dune pictures. While I was reading, I was thinking about my time in Namibia, and laughed to myself when I saw your mention at the bottom. Love it!

    • craig zabransky

      Oh, yes, Namibia… those red sand dunes unforgettable (too). stay adventurous, Craig

  • Francesca

    I’m learning so much about Mexico from your posts – I love it! Sand dunes are incredible, though I much prefer to look at them from a distance. Climbing them isn’t exactly my favorite thing to do :-)

    • craig zabransky

      These were not as challenging… but either way, it made me smile to see you learning about Mexico from my posts… there is certainly much to learn about the country… I, too, am still learning (happily) stay adventurous, Craig

  • Jetting Around

    Beautiful pictures! I know Mexico has a diverse landscape, but somehow never thought of it and dunes together. Great name for those pants. :)

    • craig zabransky

      Totally love the pants… made for the adventure traveler… stay adventurous, Craig

  • Copper Canyon Guy

    Great shots Craig–and it was such a memorable journey. I have been to these dunes countless times and they always capture me.

    • craig zabransky

      So memorable. And they definitely captured me… so did Chihuahua.

      stay adventurous, Craig

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  • Leah Travels

    Very cool, Craig. I have friends from Chihuaha and they keep asking me to go with them home. Next time they ask I might have to do it. This place is really pretty!

    • craig zabransky

      Definitely go. There is SO much beauty in Chihuahua.
      stay adventurous, Craig

  • Leigh McAdam

    What an interesting part of the world. I had no idea Chihuahua was so beautiful or that it boasted sand dunes.

    • craig zabransky

      Leigh, Chihuahua is incredibly beautiful… also, check out Copper Canyon
      stay adventurous, Craig

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  • Oscar Tellez

    as a kid I visited Samalayuca many times. No sand buggies in those days, which made the trip more enjoyable. It was considered a dangerous trip in those days so we always went in a group which included adult who knew the dunes. We usually found and collected what is known as gypsum desert “roses”, rock formations in the shape of a rose.

    • craig zabransky

      thanks for sharing the memories… appreciate it, and it was a special place for sure….and a desert rose, sweet. stay exploring the dunes, Craig

      • Oscar Tellez

        I grew up in Juarez, MX and El Paso, TX and am very well acquainted with the territory on both sides. Yes, Chihuahua is a beautiful Mexican State as well as the largest. Copper Canyon; Majalca, famous for the mountains and pine trees, unfortunately it has turned a bit hazardous to travel there on account of the drug cartels moving in years ago and now fighting for control of territory. I recommend visiting White Sands, New Mexico, just minutes North of El Paso.

      • craig zabransky

        I loved Chihuahua…my journey on the Chepe through the Copper Canyon – an amazing adventure, visiting Paquime and that unesco site combined with Mata Ortiz pottery – incredible, and even my night in Juarez was an eye-opening enjoyable experience . i wrote about them all on the site too.

        And I understand your comments on safety, it was a concern. I was happy to see it starting to open up again on my visit, hopefully it has continued in that direction.

        Finally, a great reminder for New Mexico…I haven’t checked out the White Sands yet, but I’d love to visit and plan to someday.

        Stay a fan of Chihuahua, Craig