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Great Sand Dunes National Park | Introduction
Great Sand Dunes National Park (Great Sand Dunes National Park), located in southwestern Colorado, is famous for its spectacular sand dunes and diverse ecosystems, and is the 58th national park in the United States. The park's most notable attraction is the massive sand dune that surrounds Snowmass, which is the tallest sand dune in North America at 229 meters. Although the park may not seem like a large area to play in, there are many fun activities such as dune walking, sandboarding (Sandboarding or Sand Sledding), and even water play in the creek.
Great Sand Dunes National Park | Places to Stay
The only lodging in the park is at Piñon Flats Campground, but if you're looking for hotel accommodations, there are a number of options near the entrance to the park. The most convenient location is Great Sand Dunes Lodge, a link to which is provided below.
Find a stay in Great Sand Dunes National Park:
Camping Tips | Piñon Flats Campground
- Comfort: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
- Space: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
- Cleanliness: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
- Convenience: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
- Overall: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
We stayed one night at Piñon Flats Campground, the only lodging in the Great Sand Dunes National Park, and had a good overall experience. Other than the very large temperature difference between day and night in the desert, there was nothing to fault. The space was moderate, the location near the dunes was convenient to play, the facilities were clean and well maintained, and the sandstorm was not as bad as expected. However, it is important to note that food must be stored away as the camp is close to the wilderness area and we heard wolves howling at night.
We arrived at sunset, thinking that it was just a short stay in the desert, and we didn't expect much from the scenery. However, at sunrise, we realized that the scenery here is quite stunning.
Visitor Center | Sand Sheet Interpretive Trail | How do sand dunes form?
The Great Sand Dunes National Park has only one short road for vehicles (see official website).Map), the first stop can be the Visitor Center to learn more about the Great Sand Dunes. The Visitor Center was under construction when we were there, so we could only watch the static display of the tin roof from the outside. Behind the Visitor Center, there is a short Sand Sheet Interpretive Trail, which explains the ecology and formation of the dunes.
If you are interested in how sand dunes are formed, you may refer to the official websiteThe explanation is very detailed. To summarize, before the formation of the dunes, the Sangre de Cristo and the surrounding mountains formed an ancient lake due to geological changes and upliftment. Later, as the lake grew larger and larger, the water pressure eventually became so great that it washed out of a pass in the mountains and the water began to flow out, and with the passage of time and climate change, the lake eventually disappeared, leaving behind a layer of sand at the bottom of the lake. These layers of sand were surrounded by mountains on three sides, and the winds blowing from the mountain passes carried the sand down to the lower parts of the lake, gradually forming the large sand dunes that we see today. Today, since no new sand is formed, the size of the dunes has stabilized and no longer changes.
Great Dunes Dunefield | Sand Play Experience
If you want to experience sand dune activity, you have to come to Dunefield. There are no specific routes to follow, and the seasons are all different, just head for the dunes. Many visitors park in the Dunes parking lot near the visitor center. The dune area in front of the parking lot is the most popular area for sand play and the park provides washing taps nearby for visitors to use after a long day's play, so it can take a while to find a parking space.
If you want a quieter experience and have a four-wheel drive vehicle, you can drive into Medano Pass Primitive Road and experience jeeping through the sand for yourself. However, if you don't have a four-wheel drive vehicle or if your vehicle is too small, you'd better not try it easily, or you may get stuck in the sand.
Since we were camping in the park, we walked to the dunes from the trail next to the campground. I really like this spot, when I look around I feel like I am the only human in the desert most of the time. After crossing the trail, I saw a coffee colored sign. After passing through this area, I entered the Wilderness Area.
A stream is seen here which is none other than Medano Creek which emits a magical buzzing sound. In the right season, there is enough water for children to play in the creek. If you want to experience water play in the desert, it is recommended to come in May to June as the water usually dries up after July.
We crossed Medano Creek and officially entered the Wilderness area, and although the desert may look empty, it is in fact rich in biodiversity. We kept seeing various animal tracks in the sand. While climbing the dunes, we were chased by a bumblebee.
Then we can start to climb up the dune slowly. It is not that we want to climb slowly, but because we can only climb slowly, we only climbed over the first lower dune, and it took us more than two hours. It took us more than two hours to climb over the first lower dune. We were taking one step down and two steps down, so we couldn't go faster even if we wanted to. However, the view of the dunes was quite spectacular, and the process of climbing the dunes was not boring, but rather interesting. The specialty of the Great Sand Dunes National Park is the snow-capped mountains that surround the park. There is no fixed path to climb the sand dunes, as the wind direction changes, the sand dune landscape will change every day. Just follow the dune ridge and go in the direction you want to go. As you continue to walk up the dune ridge, it seems that the dunes will never be finished. Although many of the dunes are labeled on the park map, you may not be sure where you are when you climb them.
Once you reach the top of the dunes, it's time for the most anticipated games. Generally speaking, the most popular activities are sandboarding and fat tire biking. sandboarding can be done on skis, similar to snowboarding, or sand sledding, which is similar to snowboarding, but it is not recommended to use your own snowboarding equipment as it can be easily damaged by the sand. If you don't have your own equipment, you can rent sand sledding equipment at the store near the park entrance.
If you don't want to spend the money, I actually found it very fun to run down. If you walk slowly, it's not easy to take one step at a time, and you might get strained if you're not careful. On the contrary, running is fast and exciting. What took me more than two hours to go up the hill, I could finish it in just over ten minutes.
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