After we left Santa Fe, our next major destination was Denver, CO, but we didn’t know what to do in between the two destinations. We could go to Colorado Springs for more fun city adventures, or we could find something a little more natural to break up the urban monotony. It took one brief look at the atlas to discover the Great Sand Dunes, pretty close to the Colorado-New Mexico border. Being the obnoxious beach girl that I am, sand dunes that you can go sandboarding and sand sledding on sound perfect to me, so off to the sand dunes we went.
The first surprise was how out of the way the park is from any main road. It took a good forty miles down an off track to find the dunes, but when we found it, the scene alone made the trek worth it.
The dunes are open at all times, so even though we didn’t arrive until 6 pm, we decided to make our way up to the top of the dune. The sandboard rentals were closed already, however, so my dream of gliding down the dune like a gazelle was short-lived. Note to other sand sport junkies: Rental places seem to be 9-5 type of joints.
The other consideration that neither Mike nor I accounted for was the horrendous wind. The climb up the dune was a bit of nightmare from the cold water at the base to the wind up top, but the view was stunning. We quit pretty close to the top, more for fear that we would topple off the side of the dune than any other reason.
This was definitely the most photogenic of our stops to date, taking dramatic Arabian Nights-esque shots in the middle of Colorado. However, for any amateur photographers out there, a word of caution: My lens was making fun sand-grinding noises for days after this excursion. Invest in a water/weather proof casing for your DSLR, or just take pics with your phone.
We ended up camping there, which seems to be a pretty popular option. The lots are only fifteen a night, and the stars are to die for. We practiced our “star-shooting,” and tried to find bears. Please note: NO flashlights allowed while walking around, so please don’t be that dick.
We would love to come back here during the summer, since we came in the spring when the weather was still a bit nippy and the moon didn’t rise until 4 in the morning. The website for the park actually includes a full moon schedule, so you can plan your trip according to how beautiful the moon rises over the dunes. I’d recommend this stop to anyone into a little bit of an unusual stop during your travels, and a good place to get your ass outside and moving.
Next stop: Denver!