Happy National Park Week!
Since it’s National Park Week I’m here share with you a few tips and tricks from my past visits to the Great Sane Dunes National Park and Preserve in southern Colorado. Read below to find Natalie’s tips and tricks to making your Dunes trip one to remember.
Happy National Park Week!
Adventure of the Week: Camping at the Great Sand Dunes National Park
Drive Time from Denver: Four hours
Who It’s For: Someone who isn’t afraid to get a little sand in their shoes, sleeping bag, hair, and every place in-between.
The Adventure: Piñon Flats is a National Park Service campground located one mile north of the Visitor Center. Open from April through October each year it has 88 campsites of which half are first come, first served and the other are reservable. Want to take your camping to the next level? Swing by the Visitor Center and grab a free backcountry permit to camp on top of the dunes. Limit of 6 people per party and limit 20 parties in the Dunefield per night.
Why I Love It: Plan on visiting the dunes before July and take advantage of Medano Creek which is a popular way to cool off and beat the mid-day heat. Hiking the sand dunes is one of the most unique experiences in Colorado and will challenge even the fittest of hikers. Take a side trip to Zapata Falls, where you can ford the stream and climb some slippery rocks for a better view of the 30-foot raging falls. You’ll feel like a kid again playing in the sand surrounded by 14,000′ peaks in one of the most remote parts of the Colorado.
What to Bring: Lots of bug spray! Be prepared for mosquitos which are plentiful around the campsite and Medano Creek. The sun can be intense during the day (hello, sunscreen!) so you’ll want a sunshade at your campsite that’s easily transported to the creek as well. Hiking boots are a must for the dunes to keep the hot sand out of your shoes and if you’re extra ambitious, you can sandboard and sled. Purchase or rent a sandboard or sand sled at Kristi Mountain Sports in Alamosa or rent at the Oasis Store just outside the park entrance. Dogs are allowed, but not on the dunes themselves and watch their paws as the sand will burn them!
Pro Tips: Snow sleds, snowboards and skis only slide on very wet sand after rain and snow. Cardboard, saucers, and soft plastic items don’t slide on sand so leave all these items at home. Plan your dune times for early morning or evening during summer to avoid a 150 degree F sand surface (seriously!) or thunderstorms. Want to camp at the top of the dunes? Bring a tent with snow stakes as regular tent stakes won’t stay put in the sand.