Colorado Great Sand Dunes National Park

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Written by Patrick J. Smith posted on Thursday, February 4th, 2010

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Colorado Rockies vacations never cease to amaze, whether you’re here for the great skiing, the interesting towns, or visiting Colorado National Parks. Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, is certainly one of the most amazing, when it comes to National Parks in Colorado.

Colorado's Great Sand Dune National Park (NPS photo).

The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve contain the tallest sand dunes in North America.  You can see these enormous dunes from miles away, with the Sangre de Cristo mountians ascending to more than 14,000 feet behind them, with famous peaks such as the Crestone Needle and Crestone Peak, and Cleveland Peak and Mount Herald.

The Great Sand Dunes are truly one of the things that makes a Colorado vacation unique, as dunes seem so out of place in an area that has no major water body. The dunes actually got their start almost a half million years ago, when an enormous ancient lake began drying up in the valley where The Great Sand Dunes National Park now sits.

Wildlife at the Great Sand Dunes National Park
The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is a great place to see Colorado wildlife on your vacation. Have your camera ready, as many of the following animals are bound to appear: including  mule deer, pronghorn antelope, elk, fox, and coyotes. The area is also home to mountain lions and black bears, although you’re less likely to see these skittish critters.

There are more than 88 camp sites at the national park for cars and tents, spread throughout the more than 33,000 acres of parkland, making your stay in the Great Sand Dunes a nice and quiet one.

Activities at Great Sand Dunes National Park
Sand dunes probably sound more like a summer thing, but here’s a secret: dunes are a blast when covered in snow. Take your skis, snowshoes, snowboard, or sled for great hiking and downhill experiences.

Even in the summer, you can ride the dunes. Just take your skis or snowboard and carve the sand. It’s almost as much fun as riding snow, and a great way to take care of your winter sports cravings.

If you’re interested in four-wheeling, take the Medano Pass trail that extends from the national park 25 miles to the town of Gardner, Colorado. The drive takes you through dense piñon and aspen groves to high-altitude tundra that is part of the beauty of the region.

Park Information
The park is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
The Visitor Center is open from 9 am to 4:30 pm in the winter months and 9 am to 5 pm in the summer months.

Colorado National Parks

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