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Great Sand Dunes National Park - Alamosa, Colorado

The largest sand dunes you'll encounter ...
You must visit Great Sand Dunes National Park in south central Colorado. The main feature is the large sand dunes that would be mountains unto themselves if they were made of rock and granite. The park is located pretty much in the middle of nowhere -- in the barren San Luis Valley -- and I think its isolation adds to the park's lure. It feels like you're in part New Mexico (desert, emptiness) and part Colorado (at the base of the majestic Sangre De Cristo Mountains).

Bring your sled; you and the kids will love riding down the dunes. When Medano Creek runs in the spring, it creates a beach and seashore effect. Note that in the summer, the sand can be scorching hot, and so have footwear other than sandals. Aside form exploring the dunes, there is also a campground, visitor center, 4WD roads to Medano Pass and Music Pass, and Zapata Falls is a short drive south.

On this page are photos from some of my visits. In fact, I went often enough that I created a website dedicated to this special place: www.GreatSandDunes.net.

The nearest town with all major services is Alamosa, Colorado. You'll also find some services in the small towns of Hooper, Blanca, Mosca and Villa Grove.

Great Sand Dunes National Park
The beautiful Sangre De Cristo Mountains in the background. The scenery is amazing.

Steve
Me on High Dune, a popular hike in the park.

Photos and commentary by Steve Garufi in Fruita, Colorado. Facebook - Twitter - Pinterest - YouTube

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Photos

May 6, 2006 - The Great Sand Dunes with the Sangre De Cristo Mountains in the background.
Medano Pass Road I drove about 0.2 miles up Medano Pass Road. Things became bumpy and I immediately turned around. Oh to have a 4-wheel drive and high clearance to enjoy roads this this one.
Great Sand Dunes National Park Blue sky and clouds. So pretty!
Medano Creek
Medano Creek, Colorado
Medano Creek
I walked up the creek bed until I reached Medano Creek. It was hardly running, but it was nice to see even this little amount of water.

Medano Creek sinks into the ground and contributes to a large aquifer in the San Luis Valley. When it's running hard, it gives the area of beach effect with running water and waves of sand flowing through.
Great Sand Dunes Visitor Center
Great Sand Dunes National Park
The outside of the visitor center.

There is something about this building that I like. It's very welcoming and has a patio area with benches with views of the dunes.

Mosca Pass Trail I hiked two miles up the Mosca Pass Trail.

Great Sand Dunes National Park
Great Sand Dunes National Park

More Photos

April 26, 2007 - My second visit to the Great Sand Dunes in 2007 came at a perfect time: Snow covered part of the dunes from a recent snowstorm, and Medano Creek was running past the dunes.
Medano Creek, Colorado
Medano Creek
Great Sand Dunes National Park, CO
Great Sand Dunes National Park
This was my first time to the park when Medano Creek was running strong and filling up the creek bed.

Adjacnet are four photos of Medano Creek, the sand dunes and Mount Herard in the background.

Great Sand Dunes Colorado One photo with me. I was so happy to be there!
Great Sand Dunes National Park, CO
Great Sand Dunes National Park Snow
The sand dunes highlighted with snow.
Great Sand Dunes It was interesting to see the snow pile in the riffles of the sand.
Great Sand Dunes Snow and sand dunes.
Snow at Great Sand Dunes National Park
Snow at Great Sand Dunes
Snow at Great Sand Dunes
Mount Herard, Colorado

Mount Herard, Colorado

Four photos of dunes with Mt. Herard somewhere in the photo.
Great Sand Dunes National Park I hiked to the Great Sand Dunes Trail Overlook.
Sangre De Cristo Mountains Two photos on my way out ...

The northern Sangre De Cristo Mountains.

San Luis Valley, Colorado The Sangre De Cristo Range towering above the San Luis Valley.

Mountains
Spanish Peaks, Colorado
Sangre De Cristo Mountains

Photo Gallery

November 2004 - Some photos of the mountains on the way to the dunes from Colorado Springs.

TOP: Mount Maestas (alt. 11,569) on left.
MIDDLE: The Spanish Peaks (alt. 13,626 feet) on right
BOTTOM: Mount Blanca (alt. 14,345 feet) and surrounding peaks.

Great Sand Dunes N.P. Approaching the sand dunes with the Sangre de Cristo range behind.
Great Sand Dunes National Park
Great Sand Dunes National Park
Compared to the huge mountains in this area, the dunes do not look large. However, the dunes rise up to points of 870 feet from the base ... all in sand!

Notice how small the people look in the top photo. In the bottom photo, a dog fetches a tennis ball on a steep slope.

The geological background of the Sand Dunes is fascinating, including Medano Creek which runs beside the visitor area.
Great Sand Dunes National Park Great Sand Dunes National Park LEFT: Our footsteps in the sand.

RIGHT: From this spot, look how steep it was to the ridge! :O
Great Sand Dunes National Park Hikers at a dune ridge with Mount Herard behind.
Great Sand Dunes National Park We had our sights set on reaching High Dune the park, which is relatively close to the visitor area.
Great Sand Dunes National Park One view looking back toward the visitor area.
Great Sand Dunes National Park Almost there.
Great Sand Dunes National Park

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Great Views

Summit photos on High Dune.
Great Sand Dunes National Park A hiker went down there. He helps give perspective to the size of the dunes.
Great Sand Dunes National Park On the way down ...

Our footsteps and the steepness of that hill! :)

It was neat to look back and track our footsteps.
In the parking lot, this beautiful bird landed on the side view mirror. :)

Great Sand Dunes N.P. Photos on November 3, 2001

The Great Sand Dunes is 39 square miles of SAND.

Dave Vetter I went with Dave Vetter, who graciously drove.
Great Sand Dunes National Park The park literature said the highest points of the dunes were equivalent to being on the 70th floor of a building.
Great Sand Dunes National Park So ... a guy named Chris tracked this in the sand! :)
Great Sand Dunes National Park The Sangre de Cristo Mountains overlook the dunes to the north and east.
Great Sand Dunes National Park Tacky photo?
I love the hair.
So happy to be there. :)
Great Sand Dunes National Park Colorado Dave enjoys the scenery.
Great Sand Dunes National Park We walked down a steep mountain of sand -- it wasn't dangerous at all -- and sometimes our feet sunk ankle deep in the sand. :)
Great Sand Dunes National Park The San Luis Valley is so vast and expansive. Now this is the West!
Great Sand Dunes National Park, CO I thought this was a fun one.

More Photos of the Great Sand Dunes - February 2006
Great Sand Dunes National Park, CO
Beautiful sand dunes.
Great Sand Dunes National Park
Hiking up the dunes.
Great Sand Dunes National Park
Way up there.
Great Sand Dunes National Park
Pretty mountain scenery.
Great Sand Dunes National Park
Wind-sculpted sand dunes.
Great Sand Dunes National Park
Notice the person on the right.
Great Sand Dunes National Park
Happy to be at the dunes.

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