The Great Altar Desert

The Great Altar Desert is only 15 minutes from Rocky Point. This is the largest dunes system in North America, some of them are 200m or 650 ft tall. To see and climb some of this dunes, you have to walk for about 3 miles surrounded by impressive landscapes that combine the volcanic shield of El Pinacate in the distance, the lava rocks nearby and the white mountains of the “Sierra Blanca” in the horizon. It takes a couple of hours walking in the sand, so it is advice to wait for the group at visitor´s centre if you don´t feel physically capable. The Visitor´s Centre of El Pinacate Schuk Toak is the largest sustainable public building in Mexico, with excellent displays about the importance of this protected natural area in the Sonoran Desert.

The Great Altar Desert is part of the World Heritage together with El Pinacate not only because of the impressive sand formations, but also because it shows the history of the earth. In one hand it has some of the oldest geological formations in the world, the Sierra Blanca (meaning white mountains) is part of the continental craton, or platform that has been there for 2 billion years, compare to the most recent volcanic stone that appear in the landscape from the last eruptions only 12 thousand years ago. Black volcanic stone, white craton and sand dunes get together in this special landscape.

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