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Let’s Hit the Slopes: Welcome to the Capital of Sandboarding

Sandboarding – it looks like snowboarding, feels like surfing, and takes place on sand. If you had to sum it up in a single sentence, that’s the way most athletes in the sport would describe it. Where does sandboarding take place?


Sandboarding – it looks like snowboarding, feels like surfing, and takes place on sand. If you had to sum it up in a single sentence, that’s the way most athletes in the sport would describe it. Where does sandboarding take place? You’re most likely thinking of the dry, arid deserts in Saudi Arabia and other exotic locations in far off places, but the “sandboarding capital of the world is actually in Florence.

Not Florence, Italy, of course. We are talking about Florence, Oregon, in the United States. It’s home to Sand Master Park and other sand dunes in the local area, some of which reach over 500 feet tall – perfect for beginners and master sandboarders alike. 


The World Capital of Sandboarding

About 3 and a half hours from Oregon’s capital of Portland, Florence is a costal town full of charm. Miles of stunning beaches, boutique shopping, antique shops, delicious seafood – and some of the most impressive sand dunes out there, plus the Sand Master Park. It’s a sandboarder’s dream location.

Lon Beale, the founder of the Sand Master Park, is the one to thank for bringing the sport to what it is today. His work within the sport go far beyond operating the Sand Master Park. Beale has travelled the world to sandboard, testing out the different types of grit. Think that all sand is pretty much the same, without any real difference when it comes to sandboarding? Think again.

Beale’s study of sand has led him across the world, and his search brought him to the sands of Oregon, which he says is “top five in the world” – perfect for sandboarding. In the offices of the first sandboarding park in the world, his collection of over 150 different kinds of sand shown in glass bottles is a testament to his dedication to the sport.

 He’s collected sand from all the locations he’s sandboarded at –  Mexico, Brazil, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Peru, and Egypt, with the sand ranging in colors from brown to gray and rust, and many shades in-between.


Sandboarding Style 

Sandboarding is really bridging the gap between surfing, and snowboarding, but in the desert. The reason why? Like we said, it looks like snowboarding, but with the way the sand moves beneath the board – it’s constantly moving, like small little balls, giving the feeling of riding a wave. You’ll never experience the same ride twice, just like surfing. It’s truly an interesting sport that, thanks to it’s growing popularity, is giving a new dimension to the roster of extreme sports out there. 

While surfboards are used, if you are serious you will get a real sandboard, made to withstand the texture of the sand and is created to give you a smoother ride down the dunes. The thing about sand is that it has been finely ground in the ocean, deposited onto land, giving the effect of riding teeny tiny marbles at break-neck speed. And with the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area a hop, skip and a jump from the Sand Master Park, it’s clear why Oregon is hailed as the capital of sandboarding. 

This area has one of the largest expanses of temperate coastal sand dunes anywhere, and sandboards – both pros and first timers – flock to the dunes that range from hundreds of feet in the air to smaller, beginner-friendly sizes. 

Another thing that makes the Sand Master Park location so perfect is that, due to the rain received in the area, the sand is spotless, giving a suburb riding experience. With over 40 acres of dunes at the Park, you could spend an entire week and still have more to try and explore without getting bored. 


The Rise of Sandboarding

You could say that sandboarding has always been a part of the Sand Master Park founder’s life. Beale grew up in Mojave desert town of California City. The area has countless sand dunes, and kids would always try and slip and slide down them, Beale included. 

From just rolling down the dunes board-less to trying out different plastics, wood, metals and other types of materials to slide down on, Beale didn’t realize the extent of impact that the sand dunes would have on him until the early ‘90s. At that point, the hobby he had partaken in for so long started to show itself as a potential business venture. Since then, it’s taken off, and Beale is one of the biggest promoters of the sport. 


How Did Florence, Oregon Become The Capital For This International Sport

But how did Florence, Oregon become the capital for this international sport? The story starts with Beale: realizing the sport’s potential, he started promoting and pushing for people to take notice of the sport. Starting his own line of sandboards was a great start, and seven years later he partnered with ESPN to film a story on the revolutionary sport in Oregon.

After sandboarding in so many locations around the world, Beale, can tell what makes for great sandboarding, and Oregon had that special stuff. In 2000, the doors of Sand Master Park opened, along with 15 sandboards for rent – all of which would be rented in a half an hour of opening, proving his idea had merit in the world of extreme sports. 

Over 20 years later, how does the Sand Master Park hold up? Considering that they have over 100 boards for rent and for sale at any given time, and are locally produced in Florence, we’d say pretty darn good. Oh, and the Park is also home to the Sand Master Jam, known as the world’s biggest sandboarding competition that draws both hundreds of competitors and hundreds of spectators. It’s safe to say that the Sand Master Park is truly the Master of them all. 


An Influx Of New Blood And New Tricks

Plus, the world of sandboarding is seeing both an influx of new blood and new tricks and styles. Instead of just sliding down the dunes, the sandboarders of today are trying out spins, backflips and basically all other tricks that are happening on snow, are also happening on sand.

Ready to go on a sandboarding adventure, minus the cold weather and snow? Or perhaps you love the snow, but it’s off season now and you need to find something else to sharpen your skills on…either way, sandboarding is a sport that is just beginning, and is sure to advance and grow just as big as it’s snow and water counterparts.


Want to find out more? Go wide open and check out our all things sandboarding here. 

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