April 27, 2015

4/25/15 - Great Sand Dunes NP

We've been to other sand dunes--Kelso Dunes at Mojave Natl Preserve in California, White Sands Natl Monument in New Mexico, Oregon Dunes Natl Recreation Area on the Oregon Coast, and Indiana Dunes Natl Lakeshore.

Now it was time to go to the greatest of them all (yes, pun intended). Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in Colorado has the tallest dunes in the United States.

The park itself is at an elevation of over 8,000', and in the mountains, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect.
We started with the Visitor Center, got the Passport stamps, bought some postcards, watched the video. Clouds looked really iffy, plus it was cold and windy, but I was dressed for it. George was in his signature shorts, altho he did opt for a windbreaker. (George wears shorts almost all year, but he usually wears shoes. His feet are scary white!)
Before we could get to the dunes, we had to join the migration and cross Medano Creek (not pronounced like you think: accent is on first syllable). This seasonal creek is only a few inches deep, but it's snowmelt from the Sangre de Cristo Mountains up there so it's frigid! Next month little kids will be playing in it, but now all I want to do is get to the other side.
Medano Creek is one of the few places in the world that has "surge flow", where the water pulses and makes little waves. Tickles...
On the other side, there are a lot of little rocks that hurt my tender feet, so I sat down and put my shoes back on. I have no idea where the rocks come from; there are none in the creek. I guess you get what you pay for--we have a Golden Age National Parks Pass, so we didn't pay anything at all.
High Dune on First Ridge is 699' high, but you have to walk a mile and a quarter up a sandy ridge to get there; Star Dune is tallest at 755', but it's 6 miles round trip. Those dark clouds were moving our way fast, so we decided not to aim for the top. I wanted to at least get up on top of a ridge. I let George lead the way. (Once upon a time, his daughter Judy told me to stop taking so many pictures of her dad's butt. I told her I let him lead because that way the bears would get him first. No bears here but I let him go first anyway.) 
It's Saturday, so there were lots of families and kids playing on the dunes. Some college kids had hiked up on a ridge so they could sled down. We watched for a while and their equipment wasn't cooperating. At this point, they just started rolling! (I'm pretty sure my son would do this, and he's way older than college age!) These little kids had sand sleds.
The mountains you can see over the dunes are the Sangre de Cristo, same range we saw in New Mexico. Second shot is what they looked like 15 minutes later.
And half an hour later when we were down and back across the creek, it looked like this:
With discretion and valor coming to mind, we decided it was time to pack it up and head back to the RV--and hope there wasn't a problem going over the (almost 10,000' high) pass on the way. Spring might not be the best season for Colorado.

Note to my brother John: Sorry, no dune buggies or ATVs allowed on these dunes. I guess you'll just have to stick to Oregon.

More pics of Great Sand Dunes NP 

Post a comment.

Post a Comment

Please leave comments here: