The View From Here

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Jun 11, 2016

Great Sand Dunes National Park is truly an anomaly of Colorado. Just four hours south of the standard Boulder fare - snow-capped mountains providing the backdrop for uppity cyclists zooming past the gluten-free, single-origin coffee-drinking participants of "yoga in the park" - lies the oddity that is the dunes. Enormous rolling peaks of sand that, truth be told, look as though they've been accidentally plopped down right onto the wrong continent.

Great Sand Dunes National Park

 

As you know, if you frequent here (which you totally should), our friends from college were in town last month for a few weeks over my birthday, and it was INCREDIBLE.  One adventure after the next, belly-aching laughter, and a constant outpouring of love - the entire visit was a whirlwind of hiking, ghost tour pub-crawling, escape rooms, ATV riding, and of course, many breweries. Consequently, I haven't posted in weeks (sorry!) - silver lining: pictures/mini-travel guides of all these adventures coming soon!

Hands-down, one of the most exciting places we were able to visit, was Great Sand Dunes National Park. The Dunes have been on my bucket list since before we even moved to Colorado, so with friends in town, it was the perfect time to make the trip. We dragged everyone's butt out of bed at 4am, loaded ourselves (and Luna!) into the car, and armed with dried mango and beef jerky, made the drive south.

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Great Sand Dunes National Park

 

Right near the park entrance is The Great Sand Dunes Oasis - a little shop with an attached restaurant (we ate lunch there to let a nasty storm pass- surprisingly good food!) where we rented sand boards/sleds. They provide the wax for the boards with your $20 rental and considering how much fun we had with them, I'd highly recommend doing the same if you visit!

Unless you're one of those people who wants to hike the highest dune, because it's my assumption that that would take up your entire day and probably cause some tissue damage in your calves (just kidding...sorta...that sand was brutal).

So we took our boards, parked our car, and made our way through Medano Creek to the Dunes. If you visit in late spring/early summer like we did, the creek (which surrounds the base of the dunes) will be full and rushing so bring flip-flops or water shoes!

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Great Sand Dunes National Park

 

And then came the hard part - making our way up, only to sled back down (which, don't get me wrong, it was entirely worth it).

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Great Sand Dunes National Park

 

We made it! A bit achy and possibly re-evaluating our life choices that led us to so much breathlessness in this moment...but we made it! 

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Great Sand Dunes National Park

 

The view out there is incredible - it honestly feels like you took a four-hour drive to Egypt (or, at least what I imagine Egypt to look like).

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Great Sand Dunes National Park

 

And now for the good part! Greasing up the boards, and riding them down! It may not look like a very steep slope, but it totally was; pictures don't do it justice -- you will FLY on these babies!

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Great Sand Dunes National park

 

Luna, so regal as she keeps watch.

Great Sand Dunes National Park

 

Then the wind picked up, and she was not having it. "Time to GTFO mom"

Great Sand Dunes National Park

 

Unfortunately the weather turned on us pretty quickly; lightening can be incredibly dangerous out on the sand, so our day was cut a little short and we had to quicken our step to make it back to the car. Even so, we had an incredible time - such an oddly beautiful place right here in Colorado.

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Great Sand Dunes National Park

 

We live pretty close to Rocky Mountain National Park (only an hour away), so we're lucky, but even something as majestic as this is just a half-day drive! Any crazy or amazing places right in your backyard that you've visited? Let me know below - I'd love to hear about them!

 

 

xoxo,
   clarissa
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