Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve was the first stop on our 8-park adventure this summer. Our time here included hiking, trying out some sandboarding, and enjoying the peace and quiet that comes with visiting one of the lesser-known national parks.
Stay: The Great Sand Dunes Lodge is located right at the entrance of the park, walking distance from the only restaurant in the area. All rooms come with a patio overlooking the dunes – great for enjoying the sunset with a beer.
Do: Hike to the top of High Dune, the highest point on the dune field. At almost 700ft tall, it makes for quite a climb. Once you wade through Medano Creek, there are no marked trails so you are free to make your own itinerary to the top (our hike ended up being 4 miles round-trip). Make sure to go early in the morning before the sand gets too hot or afternoon thunderstorms develop.
Do: Go sandboarding or sandsledding in the dune field. We rented our boards for the day from the Great Sand Dunes Oasis. It’s definitely more challenging than it looks!
Do: Hike the Dunes Overlook trail (moderate – 2 miles r/t) to get a good perspective of the dune field, Medano Creek, and the San Luis Valley.