“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.” - Rumi
From 1st to 4th grade my family lived in Colorado. One of my strangest memories from those years is of a visit to the Great Sand Dunes (it wasn't yet a National Park). I have always remembered images of the visit in my mind but thought that it was too surreal to have actually happened. Because not even my mind could conjure something so incredible.
Since I have moved back to the state I have visited a few times and am in the same state of wonder and amazement as all those years ago.
A little background on the park: the Great Sand Dunes are home to the tallest sand dunes in North America - 750 ft from base to crest. It was declared a National Monument in 1932 and a National Park and Preserve in 2004. The park covers 44,246 acres and an additional 41,686 for the preserve. The nearest town is Alamosa (35 miles away).
The dunes started forming through sand and soil deposits from the Rio Grande, the winds picked up the sand and lost power before crossing the mountains. The process is continuous and the shape of the dunes change daily.
The dunes are accessible for hiking (very carefully in the summer when sand temps can reach 150 degrees!) sand sledding, sand boarding, and there are sand wheelchairs available (so cool) The sand sleds and sand boards are available tor rent in Alamosa at Kristi Mountain Sports or Oasis Campground outside the park.
The Great Sand Dunes are just shy of 4 hours from Denver. I take I-25 south, exit 52 to US-180 W at Walsenburg, over La Veta pass and into Fort Garland then Blanca. Turn right onto CO - 150, drive about 19 miles and you're there! It is $15 per car (or no charge with the America the Beautiful Pass that I recommend at least once a day).
Until you get close you'd never know anything was there other than the Sangre de Cristo mountains.
At the main parking area you enter the dunes by crossing Medano Creek - or swimming through in the summer!
The dunes are much larger than a picture can convey. Be prepared to walk quite a while through some challenging altitude change if you want to get to the top. Bring water! (and sunscreen - I had a Teva foot sunburn that lasted a year after this picture)
I like to climb up somewhere and just sit. I bring a book but it's usually too windy to do anything but take it in. There are no real set trails due to the changing landscape so you can be as far or close to others as you'd like. I prefer far :) Acoustic monitoring has shown that the park has one of the quietest soundscapes in the country! I'm not surprised. So peaceful.
Again, pictures don't do them justice. You have to go.
See this Instagram video by @emhart11 * 8 likes
If all these pictures haven't convinced you to visit this underrated National Park then I don't know what will. It is an amazing, peaceful, and surreal place that everyone should see in their lifetime.