Series – Photos of a Family Road Trip Adventure
Welcome to Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, the first stop on this adventure packed family road trip. Fun awaits those who venture off the beaten path to this gem of a national park, where the tallest sand dunes in North America just beg to be explored.
Spend an afternoon racing up giant, ever-shifting mountains of sand. It’s more difficult than it appears! Go sand sledding for a unique experience. Soak in Mother Nature’s masterpiece created from tiny particles of sand. Marvel upon this lunar-like landscape rising up amidst lush, green Colorado grasslands, snow-capped mountains towering in the distance.
Where Is Great Sand Dunes National Park?
Located in a sparsely populated region of Colorado’s San Luis Valley, Great Sand Dunes National Park is several hours south of Denver, with no ski resorts nearby, and no town of substantial size as it’s gateway. Yes, Great Sand Dunes is certainly off the beaten path.
Don’t let that deter you from experiencing this ocean of sand! Being off the beaten path simply means less crowds to contend with, and rarely a line to maneuver through for the best views. See for yourself all this vastly diverse and unique national park has to offer.
Why Is Great Sand Dunes a Must-Experience?
So why should one consider a sojourn off the beaten path, down a fairly desolate highway, to Great Sand Dunes? Because where else can you see the tallest sand dunes in North America?
Where else can you gaze across miles and miles of sand surrounded by snow-capped Rocky Mountains on one side, and green grasslands of the San Luis Valley on the other side?
Where else can you climb up sand dunes that stretch as tall as 750 feet high? Where else might you test your skills at sand sledding down those very same dunes? That’s several reasons why taking the road less traveled to Great Sand Dunes is worth it. Here’s one more.
Great Sand Dunes National Park exists in total contrast with its surrounding landscape. Its appearance is other-worldly, seemingly out of place within this lush green, mountainous region. That too makes this a national park worth venturing off the beaten path!
Enter A Sandbox of Epic Proportions
For thousands of years, Mother Nature has deposited mountains of fine, white sand at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range. The result is this vast ocean of sand dunes where winds continuously blow across the Rockies, creating an ever-changing terrain of wind-swept slopes ready for adventure.
So, are you ready? It’s time to tackle these sandy slopes. The objective? To hike up the tallest dune in sight. Just remember! Looks can be deceiving. That dune is farther away than you realize, and that climb to the top longer is more challenging than you think!
Yes indeed, climbing an ever-shifting sand dune can be more daunting than it appears! Sometimes the 4-limb version can ease the effort to reach the top.
There are no trails to lead your way, nor limit your adventure here in Great Sand Dunes National Park. It’s just you and the soft, ever changing sand spread out before you, beckoning one forward to create your own trail of discovery.
Climb along the ridge of a dune, following the sifting sandy tracks of those who have traversed these slopes before you. No worries about leaving behind foot prints here! They’ll all soon be erased by Mother Nature’s winds.
Make your way back down in whatever manner seems appropriate. Perhaps it’s a casual walk down the sandy slope. Maybe it’s a more creative method of arriving at the bottom. These sand dunes of epic proportions just beg for an equally epic body roll down to the bottom!
Better yet, rent a sand sled and sled down those sandy slopes for an experience you won’t forget. Then climb another sand ridge, sled or roll down again. Repeat upon yet another slope. With so many dunes calling your attention, there’s plenty of fresh ones to explore!
A day exploring Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve can be quite tiring. Who knew so much sand could be so exhausting! Be sure to test the sand temperature before taking those shoes off. These dunes can reach as much as 140 degrees F in the summer!
Refresh from those strenuous climbs across the sand in Medano Creek. Located at the base of these giant sand dunes and cooled by melting snow from the nearby mountains, Medano Creek is a great way to end a day at Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve.
Have You Been to Great Sand Dunes?
Good-bye Great Sand Dunes National Park. It was a most pleasurable adventure getting to know you. However, our travels must be moving on. Was it worth the drive down the road less traveled to Great Sand Dunes? Absolutely! Though our time was limited to an afternoon, it was an adventure well worth the side-track.
How about you? Have you been to Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve? Did you hike up and down its sand dunes of epic proportions? Dare to sand sled down? Did you find the park worth the drive down the road less traveled? Do share!
Catch the rest of the Series – Photos of A Family Road Trip Adventure.
- Road Tripping in Colorado and Utah – Photos of A Family Adventure
- A Fascinating Experience at Aztec Ruins National Monument, NM
- Welcome to the Iconic Four Corners Monument, USA!
- Inside Oak Tree House Cliff Dwelling, Mesa Verde National Park
- Mesa Verde National Park – Snapshots of an Amazing, Enlightening Experience
- Inside Animus Forks – A Colorado Mining Ghost Town Experience
- A Day of Experiences In Canyons of The Ancients & Hovenweep Nat’l Monuments
- Hiking Into The Devil’s Garden – Arches National Park
- 5 Favorite Moments – A Photo Journey Through Arches National Park
- Exploring Sego Canyon’s Ancient Rock Art & Historic Ghost Town
All images by C.Biederman