We headed down to the Great Sand Dunes area of Colorado to visit with friends and to visit this national park. The Great Sand Dunes have been formed over thousands of years, as sand deposited by mountain streams and playa lakes on the San Luis Valley floor is carried in the form of small dunes by predominant southwest winds toward a low curve in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. As the sand reaches the mountains, it also encounters reverse storm winds from the northeast that have a canceling effect on any gradual migration of the main dunes into the mountains. It was really surreal to see and experience. It is such an incredibly diverse park, too, with numerous ecosystems. There are several species of beetles that only exist in this one place! Amazing!
We did our research and knew that we needed to get out on the dunes early in the morning as sand temps can soar to over 140 degrees! Ouch!! We were at the rental place just outside the park when they opened at 8am to get a sand sled and 2 sand boards. We were on the dunes by 9am. It’s important to get there EARLY in the summer because of the intense heat.
It had rained the night before, so the dunes were a little wet and not great for sledding down. We hiked up and found a dry slope and got busy playing. It’s tough work as you have to hike all the way back up in the sand. We chose an easier slope. You need to be prepared for the tiresome sand hiking, but it’s worth it!
Around 11am, Mike decided he wanted to hike to the top of one of the dunes and sand board all the way down. Now that’s hard work! While he hiked, we played. The boys got tired of climbing back up to sled or board down, so the decided to play in the sand. Brooks got completely buried! It was funny. They made friends and had a blast 🙂 Sand gets EVERYWHERE!!! Brooks had it in his mouth, nose, ears and eyes at one point. That was NOT so funny……
We were all so incredibly exhausted from the hard play on the dunes that we just went and hung out at the visitor’s center for a couple of hours to recover. Mike actually burned his feet on the sand coming down. His feet were a little sore. Our hike up to Zapata falls just outside the park was spoiled by afternoon thunderstorms, sore feet and tired legs.
We should have planned for another day there. So, some lessons were learned that day for sure. Make sure to were shoes and/or socks out on the sand. We got there early and it was still super hot on the sand, enough that it was burning our feet. We also over-rented. One sand board and one sled would have been enough. The kids got too tired and could have easily shared. one of our rentals barely got used. If you get out and play like we did, be prepared for sand to get EVERYWHERE.
Well, that’s another national park in the bag! That was number 28 and an awesome experience.
If this trips sounded like fun to you, make sure to check out our trip to White Sands National Monument.