Great Sand Dunes National Park (8,700′)

Great Sand Dunes National Park (8,700′)

The park contains the tallest sand dunes in North America, rising about 750 feet (230 m) from the floor of the San Luis Valley on the western base of the Sangre de Cristo Range, covering about 19,000 acres (7,700 ha). Researchers say that the dunes started forming less than 440,000 years ago.

StatsRoute DescriptionDirectionsNotes
  • Trailhead:       High Dune
  • Round trip:     2.3 miles / 3.8 km
  • Elevation:        8,175′-8,700′ (+525′) / 2,492m-2,652m (+160m)

Medano Creek is within a 100 feet of the parking lot and is a popular destination because it has the characteristics of an ocean beach. Cross the shallow creek and continue toward the dunes. The first part of the hike is easy because it travels across flat, thick sand. The hike quickly transitions from an easy beach walk to a vertically challenging dune climb as the angle increases. Walking up along the ridges provided the path of least resistance.

The sand can be incredibly hot in the summer.

GPS track

The trek up to High Dune, the highest Sand Dune in the park.

Great Sand Dunes National Park
Great Sand Dunes National Park

Pictures

  • Early morning at the entrance

    Early morning at the entrance

  • Great Sand Dunes

    Great Sand Dunes

  • First light

    First light

  • Heading up the dunes

    Heading up the dunes

  • Looking back

    Looking back

  • Views

    Views

  • Great Dune summit

    Great Dune summit

  • The summit

    The summit

  • Looking back

    Looking back

  • Looking at Star Dune

    Looking at Star Dune

  • Weather moving in

    Weather moving in

  • Lookin west

    Lookin west

  • Frozen crust

    Frozen crust

  • frosty landscape

    frosty landscape

  • heading back

    heading back

  • Great Sand Dunes

    Great Sand Dunes

  • Great Sand Dunes

    Great Sand Dunes

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