Geowoodstock to TBEX: Colorado’s Phenomenal Dunes

So last time I told you about getting to Great Sand Dunes. This time I get to share the fabulousness of this place that I so often wish wasn’t two hard days drive from Camp Granola HQ in Georgia.

When words fail…

Ok, I’m not generally the most eloquent or persuasive writer. That’s very much so in this case. I can never quite express why this place is special to me but it should be obvious I love it from the number of posts and pictures I’ve included on the blog: Reminders, Good Stuff, Memories of Trees, The Sunflower, Places You Should Go: Great Sand Dunes National Park.

So rather than get verbose in my attempt at a Great Sand Dunes love letter, I’m simply going to go into photo essay mode here and let the pictures speak their proverbial thousand words…

Fred basking in the sun, sand and wind.
While the dunes tend to be the main attraction, the flowers of Great Sand Dunes are worth spending a little extra time in the park. This gorgeous prairie sunflower is now memorialized as a tattoo on my arm. Yes, I’m very serious when I say I love Great Sand Dunes…
Fierce winds gusting up to 40 mph winds helped Fred and George gain a healthy respect for the power of wind and sand.
Our dunes explorations had to be early or late in the day to accomodate the Disapproving Beagle’s sensitive paws. June sun bakes the sand to paw-burning temperatures so we had to work around it to keep him happy and healthy.
This gnarly old tree with the dunes as a backdrop is one of my favorite memories of this Dunes visit.
You know we couldn’t pass up a cache just outside the park!
We spent the week marveling at the changing shadows and shapes of the dunes throughout the day. The constant flux is peaceful and mesmerizing. Take the time to watch and you’ll be amazed by this dynamic geologic system.
You know we love to learn on our journey. George is now a Great Sand Dunes Junior Ranger.
Beyond the jaw-dropping vistas of dunes and mountains, the details of the flora and fauna are equally fascinating.
The dune buddies couldn’t get enough of exploring the park… and didn’t even want to be bothered with mom’s pesky photo requests.
Make sure you take in a Great Sand Dunes sunset. The combination of dunes and mountains make it a unique experience.

Giving the Dunes their due…

Many visitors to Great Sand Dunes only visit for the day. In the week we spent at the campground on this visit, even most the campers only stayed one night.

As travelers we all have limited time to explore but I urge anyone considering a visit to give it more time than just a day or overnight. Aside from climbing the Dunes, if you time it right you can splash in the uber-cool Medano Creek that flows only a short time each year. It’s boatloads of fun to experience the surge flow of this unique, seasonal creek. Plus, the park offers many ranger programs to keep you occupied in between sand-surfing and hoofing it to the top of the Dunes.

And, just a few suggestions of places to explore in the surrounding area… you have the town of Alamosa, San Luis Lake State Park, gobs of hiking trails, and several 14-er peaks to bag if that’s your thing. Maybe one day I’ll tell you about my failed attempt at Blanca Peak way back in 1996. Ah, the good ole days! And of course, one of those nearby trails is Zapata Falls where my big toe met it’s untimely demise… but that’s a story for next time.

Know before you go…

I will warn you that climbing the Dunes is very strenuous but very worth it. Of course, you need to watch weather closely out there. Being exposed on the Dunes in a storm is not good and the sand gets burning hot in the summer sun. Just use your smarts before you dive in and you’ll have a great experience. The park service page for the Dunes has all of the updated information you’ll need to make sure your time there is fabulous.

And now for your moment of green…

The constantly changing dunes are always giving new lines and forms to marvel.


  1. THANKS FOR THIS! Who knew? Just put it on the list!

    1. Excellent! Last year Medano Creek came early and didn’t last as long as usual so you probably want to start checking the forecast in early April to see if you can be there when it’s flowing. It’s SO cool!

      Let me know if you have any questions about the park or campground and happy trails. -V

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