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  • Writer's pictureMick McMurray

3 Days at Great Sand Dunes National Park

Updated: 5 days ago

Sculpted Sandune with mountains and a cloudy blue sky
Great Sand Dunes National Park

We spent three days at Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado and it was a truly awe-inspiring experience. The park's towering dunes, majestic mountains, and vast expanse of sand offer a unique and breathtaking landscape that is truly one of a kind. One of the most unforgettable aspects of our visit was witnessing the stunning sunrises and sunsets over the dunes. Each morning, we were greeted by a vibrant display of color as the sun rose over the sand, casting a warm glow across the landscape. In the evenings, we watched in awe as the sky turned shades of pink and orange, painting a stunning backdrop against the dunes. In addition to the incredible views, we also enjoyed exploring the park's many hiking trails,

Great Sand Dunes Great Sand Dunes

Illustrated Guide Trail Guide

Our base camp for the 3 days was the Pinon Flats Campground at the Great Sand Dunes National Park. The campground has 44 primitive sites that are spaced out nicely. It is at 8,500 feet of elevation which made for cool nights and mornings.

Trailer in our campsite at sunset
Our campsite

The dunes were awesome being the tallest dunes in North America. The tallest is 750 feet high. The sand is piled up at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains by the prevailing winds.

The photographic opportunities were endless with mornings & evenings being our favorite times to photograph. The sunrises & sunsets were incredible. The shadows cast by the low angle of light at these times made numerous photo ops.

During the daytime at Great Sand Dunes National Park, we enjoyed a variety of activities such as hiking, sandboarding. There were people on horseback and others climbing to the top of the dunes.

One day I decided to try climbing them just to see how difficult it would be. I only managed to make it about a fifth of the way up before pausing to take some photos and then descending back down. Despite the challenge, the unique experience of climbing the towering sand dunes and capturing the stunning views made the effort worthwhile.

During our day trip to Zapata Falls, we had a unique and exciting experience hiking up South Zapata Creek to reach the cascading falls hidden inside a cave. The challenge was trying to keep our feet dry as we made our way through the creek. Despite this, we had a great time exploring the area and taking in the natural beauty of the falls. Zapata Falls offers a refreshing break from the dry, sandy landscape of Great Sand Dunes National Park and is definitely worth a visit for those seeking a unique outdoor adventure.

In conclusion, Great Sand Dunes National Park offers a diverse range of experiences and activities for visitors to enjoy. From the challenge of climbing the towering sand dunes to the refreshing oasis of Medano Creek and the stunning sunrises and sunsets, there is truly something for everyone. Additionally, the nearby Zapata Falls provides a unique and exciting day trip opportunity. Whether you're an avid hiker or simply seeking a peaceful escape to reconnect with nature, Great Sand Dunes National Park is a must-visit destination.

Now!! On to Mesa Verde National Park

Lorna's Tips and Lessons

Folding tables may be small, but they're a big game-changer when it comes to campsite convenience. They're incredibly lightweight and take up minimal space, yet they come in handy for a wide range of uses. Whether you need a spot to set up your portable ice maker, work on crafts, or just relax at the campground, a folding table is the perfect solution. They're easy to pack up and take with you on the road, and when you arrive at your destination, they're quick to set up and provide an instant surface for whatever you need. Don't let limited space cramp your style - add a folding table to your gear and enjoy all the extra functionality it brings!


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