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Sand Mountain a reminder of former lake in Nevada desert

By Catholic Online
November 12th, 2010
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Ninety miles east of Carson City, Sand Mountain is a modern remnant of the ancient lake. About 10,000 years ago, the desert of Nevada was home to Lake Lahontan. About 8,500 square miles, larger than Lake Ontario, but smaller than Erie, Lahontan was one of the largest lakes in North America at the time.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - As wind blew across the plains, the sand accumulated near a basin that stopped the wind. Stretching across the Nevada desert, the large dune is two miles long and 600 feet high. The dune is unique, because it "sings." As wind blows across the top, the sands create a long eerie hum. In order to "sing," the sand must have small round and between 0.1 and 0.5 in diameter, contain silica, and maintain a level humidity.

The Mountain lies on Highway 50, the Loneliest Road in America according to Life magazine. Until recently there were no paved roads into the park, but the black top was finished in early 2010. Visitors can camp in the area but must bring their own water.

A Pony Express station nearby, dating to 1860 and the Sand Springs Desert Study Area continue to attract curious visitors.

Sand Mountain Recreation Area is managed by the Bureau of Land Management and is open to off-highway vehicle use. The area is also the only home of the Sand Mountain Blue Butterfly.

Visitors to the area are advised to camp only in designated areas. In addition, eight foot whip flags are required on all vehicles riding in the dunes. Speed limit is 15 miles per hour in camping areas.

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