the wandering chick
...the Great Sand Dunes Natl Park
our nation's newest national park
Oh my gosh!!! I've walked on sand dunes before....on the beach, but this is so different. They're so tall!!
With dunes rising 750 feet, the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve comprises the tallest dunes in North America. The park, which before 2004 was a national monument, is our newest national park.
It sits at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, on the west side, in southern Colorado's San Luis Valley. It is, in fact, the Sangre de Cristos that indirectly formed the dunes. As the sand blows across the vast valley floor, it's blocked by the mountain range, having nowhere to go .... but up.
The park is in the middle of nowhere, but there are nearby smaller towns, and there are a couple of campgrounds and RV parks. The park itself, in fact, has a very nice campground, but it was packed to the gills when I was there in early June.
To get to the dunes, you must first cross the very very shallow Medano Creek. Just wear shoes you don't mind getting wet.
As I was getting closer and closer by car to the dunes, I was looking for them and couldn't find them. I realized quickly I was looking too high up. From a distance and up against the towering Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the dunes are unimpressive and almost disappointing. But once you get ON them, you realize how magnificent they really are. Suddenly they become intimidating.
I can't explain the difference in color of the sand. My camera settings were consistent. Other than the direction and how the sun affected it, I have no clue.
There's no doubt the sand was blowing fiercely. I could feel the pelts on the back of my legs. I didn't get too close to any cliffs; I tried to keep the wind to my back and my camera tightly covered in a plastic bag, which was pretty much in shreds by the time I left.
If you get lost among the dunes, don't count on retracing your footsteps. Most likely, they won't be there by the time you return!
The shots above and to the left were taken in late afternoon as I was leaving the park. The ones below were taken around 7:30 the next morning. The wind wasn't blowing nearly as much in the early morning.
A couple of pronghorns were out in the field just as I was leaving the park in the late afternoon. This one seemed a little more interested in me than the other one.
The dunes are situationed in an area of open plains, so sunsets are super.
To view more pictures of Colorado, please return to the Colorado home page.
Or, you may wish to visit one of the locations below.
Not too far from the Great Sand Dunes NP (maybe 10 miles) is the San Luis Lake State Park. Sadly, the lake is dried up, so there's not much activity. It was quite desolate except for the campground. Not sure what the people were doing there except that it was an overflow to the dunes campground. The Sangre de Cristo Mountains and dunes can be seen in the background.
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