When I heard about Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, I was intrigued. Not just because of the dunes. I’ve seen big sand dunes before. The interesting thing about these sand dunes is that they are in Colorado, far from the nearest body of water.

Then how did the dunes get here? It’s mainly due to their location, nestled in the corner of the Sangre de Cristo mountains. Streams bring sand down from the mountains, deposit the sand, and winds pile it up. The dunes are still growing. The water is crucial to the dunes, and that’s why the park was upgraded from national monument in 2004. It’s another young, small national park.

Climbing the dunes was hard work. The tallest sand dunes in North America are here, rising about 750 ft. I don’t think I made it to the tallest one, but I climbed some pretty big ones. Walking on sand is never easy, but it’s especially difficult if it’s so steep! Sand boarding is popular here. I talked to some boarders, and they said it was much harder than snow boarding.

Boarding on the dunes.
Boarding on the dunes.

A unique experience here is camping on the dunes. It’s also totally free. Being on the dunes at night would get you far from the crowded campground. But this was the end of my trip, and I didn’t have the energy for an overnight backpacking trip.

I did spend a day hiking. I drove on the rough sand road to Point of No Return and parked. It’s Jeeps only beyond that point. A fun activity in this park would be driving the sand road in a Jeep. I hiked along the edge of the dune field to the foothills of the mountains. It was a nice hike and the views were good. I walked back along the rugged road, and waved at the passing Jeeps.

My work was done for now. I had visited quite a few national parks. I wanted to see more, but now was not the time. New adventures beckoned…

Morning at the dunes.
Morning at the dunes.
Mountains and dunes are a good combination.
Mountains and dunes are a good combination.
Sun on the dunes.
Sun on the dunes.
Terry
I'm Terry, former cubicle-dweller, and now traveler, photographer, writer, and entrepreneur. I quit my job in 2014 to travel to US national parks, then to South East Asia. I write about independent, flexible, long-term, budget travel. Sign up to my newsletter to get the latest news on what I'm up to. I hope you join me on my trek around the world.

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