As part of our quest to see all we can of these United States, and, by extension, the U.S. National Parks, we make our way northward through Colorado. No one suggested we stop at the Great Sand Dunes National Park; perhaps you haven’t heard of it, we certainly had not but decided to put it on our agenda if the timing was right.
Rising out of the plain of the San Luis Valley and nestled against the Sangre De Cristo Mountain Range, the sand dunes are a sight to behold even from 10 miles away. Huge sand dunes stretch on for miles abutting the mountains that lay directly behind the dunes. At the visitor center we learn that there’s 1.5 cubic miles or 6.5 billion cubic meters of sand in the sand dunes and that thirty-seven dunes are over 600 feet tall. The Great Sand Dunes contains many of the tallest dunes in North America. That’s for you science geeks; the rest of us just know that’s a crap ton of sand!
We arrive around two in the afternoon without a reservation because that’s how we roll. As half the sites are first come first serve, we proceed to the campsites and quickly discover that the small sites are made more for tent camping than RV camping. It doesn’t take long to see what is available does not suit Tex. San Luis State Park, situated 15 miles from the park entrance, offers the bigger sites and, bonus, we take advantage of a 50-cent, luxurious 4-minute shower! Each! Although we find the $20 campsite fee and $7 a day entrance fee to be a tad expensive (considering there is no water hookup and the lake is dry), we elect to stay two nights to take full advantage of The Great Sand Dunes National Park.
We start our climb of the dunes around 10:00am when the temperature is about 70 degrees outside and quickly enjoy the warm waters of Medano Creek at the base of the dunes. The water and the winds are integral to the continual formation of the dunes. The sand feels cool on our feet and the breeze is refreshing at the base. But, as you gradually make your way up the sand gets hotter, almost unbearable, and the breeze starts whipping the sand into your face. As we reach one of the many rises and pause to look around we experience the feeling of the uniqueness of the dunes and how time and again the beauty and resilience of nature does not fail to amaze. On day two, we return to Medano Creek with our beloved dog. Skyler will be twelve this week and has weak knees from the playfulness of her youth; but, on this day, she can hardly contain her excitement running and jumping like a puppy as she leads us up and down the creek time and time again. Tomorrow we know she will be tucked away in the camper and will only move when necessary; but, today Skyler plays and we play right along side our sweet baby girl!
Up next: Zapata Falls, Colorado