Dunes Among Diversity!
“The tallest dunes in North America are the centerpiece in a diverse landscape of grasslands, wetlands, conifer and aspen forests, alpine lakes, and tundra. Experience this diversity through hiking, sand sledding, splashing in Medano Creek, wildlife watching, and more! The park and preserve are open 24 hours a day, so plan to also experience night skies and nocturnal wildlife during your visit.”
Sandboarding and Sand Sledding
If you’ve never experienced sledding down a sand dune then you need to add it to your bucket list! While it may seem that a board that can go down the snow, can also go down the sand, you’ll just end up destroying your snow gear! Sand Board rentals are available in the visitor’s center and in local areas. You can explore the dunes and slide down any of the areas that aren’t thriving with vegetation. But plan your day accordingly, the dunes can get up to 150 degrees in the summer months.
Fat biking is a Colorado sport that has gained a lot of traction in the last few years! Essentially mountain biking on steroids, rental flat bikes are just mountain bikes with “fatter” tires that make it easier to pedal through the dunes. Most of the dunes will not allow a mechanized vehicle, so fat biking is the best ways to see the dunes up close and personal! The best route to take on a Fat Bike is Medano Creek Primitive Road.
Not All Who Wander Are Lost: The Best Campgrounds and Trails to See While in Great Sand Dunes National Park
At Great Sand Dunes National Park, there is no shortage of adventure! From sandboarding the dunes, to hiking trails, and splashing in Medano Creek.
While there are no trails that go through the dunes there are still plenty of ways to explore them! With 5 dunes that tower over 700 feet tall, “High Dune” is the first dune you’re treated to once you enter the parking lot, is not the tallest or most daunting, but sure looks it when you first arrive! Completely hikable, you can summit the 669 ft. dune in about 2 hours, round trip. The largest dune in the park, and in North America, is Star Dune, to which you get a full view from the summit of High Dune. A round trip to the summit of Star Dune will take you roughly 5 hours. If you hike the dunes, please prepare and plan accordingly; the temperatures on the dunes can reach up to 150 degrees, please bring plenty of water, moisture wicking layers and sun screen!
A great way to escape the heat of the day on the dunes. Located in the shaded forest and named after an original settlement at the same location, this is a great family hike that can be done relatively quickly.
This trail follows a small creek to the summit of a low pass in the Sangre de Cristo mountains, winding through aspen and evergreen forests. Allow 2-3 hours to reach the pass; the trail is 3 1/2 miles (5.7 km) one way. American Indians and early settlers used this route for travel into the valley.
Pinon Flats– Located one mile north of the Visitors center, this is the only non-4wd accessible campground in the park. The campground is open April-November. With a mixture of reservable and non-reservable sites, each site is outfitted with a fire ring, access to restrooms with sinks and flush toilets, however there are no hookups at this site. Being the only campground within park boundaries, be mindful of your planning, the park is usually filled in the summer! In a rare opportunity, pets are welcomed at Pinon Flats Campground , so bring your furry family members along! Sites run $20/night, you can reserve online at Great Sand Dunes National Park here