Visiting the Great Sand Dunes!

My visit to the Great Sand Dunes at Colorado was largely unplanned. But it happened to coincide with the busiest season at the Great Sand Dunes. So, for those who plan to visit the Great Sand Dunes, a good time would be late May onwards – way after winter. And for those who loves hiking, July would be better.

My recommendation would be to spend 2 full days for a comforatble trip at the Great Sand Dunes.

Day 1 

Checking out the Visitors Center – It gave me some good information of “The Magnificent Coincidence” of the Great Sand Dunes – on how this BIG PILE of sand is formed, where they come from, and how they stayed put at the Dunefield, becoming the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Here, you can also buy souviniers, and also get some help from the “rangers” who can give you good tips to make your trip more exciting and meaningful. 

Hiking the Great Sand Dunes – How can I complete my trip to Great Sand Dunes(GSD) without conquering it? Well, there are 2 peaks on the GSD, one called High Dune 650ft/198m, another one called Star Dune 750ft/229m.

Its only when I started climbing the dunes, I realized that it is really not easy. Yes, it is only 200m tall, but man, the sand is VERY FINE! That means, no grip, slippery, and Newton’s 3 laws of motion tells me that for the same amount of force I exert on normal ground, the force that pushes me forward was reduced by more than half.

Here is a picture of me taking a break. The peak you can see is the High Dune. Thats where I was heading to. Another point to add, the wind is VERY POWERFUL! I didn’t get to sit too long because there were sand all over my face.

Well, it took me a good 2 hours of work out before reaching the High Dune. Above is a picture taken from the High Dune. Yes, it is awesome! Great View of the Sangre De Cristo Mountains. As you can see, there are still snow on the mountains, and these are the snows collected over winter which will turn into streams to feed water to the vegetations around the National park. Cool eh? I myself drank a mouthful of this water downstream. It tasted, wierd.

Here is a photo of the Star Dune from the peak of High Dune. Conquering the Star Dune (tallest dune in North America) would be a great idea. BUT, looking at the sand between me and the Star Dune, I definitely need to get much fitter than this to do that. Another 2 hours of hiking maybe?

Day 2

I personally did not do the Medano Pass Drive or hike to the Medano Lake (due to time constraints), but it seems like an interesting thing to do. Especially when I have not done the Venturing through trails on a 4WD or Jeep kinda trip before.

There is a Medano Pass Primitive Road, where you must be in a 4WD to drive on the trail. Here are some pictures of the trail. Seems like these group of people had loads of fun!

Also, there is a trail to the Medano Lake along the Medano Pass. This will take you to 11518ft/3511m.

The moderate 2.5 hours hike to Medano Lake is one of the most enjoyable trips in the Park and Preserve. The terrain is varied and the trail is generally gradual, with only a couple of steeper sections, nearing the lake.

Anyway, I did Day 1, and it felt great. If I had the chance, I would definitely go for Day 2. To the potential Great Sand Dunes visitors, rent a 4WD so that you can go through the Medano Pass Primitive Road. Also, bring a “snowboard/sandboard”. There were no such board on sale at the visitor centre. You can actually slide down the Sand Dunes from the peak using the board. Very cool & exciting!

Anyway, here are some more pictures from my trip! Enjoy!


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