The Great Sand Dunes features the tallest dunes in North America. You can hike, jump, slide, or explore the dunes via wheelchair all year round. Water flows through the dunes, beginning as mountain snowfields and melting to travel through alpine lakes, the dunes, grasslands, forests, and wetlands. You can stroll along the rivers of the dunes and see land formation in action. The area mountains climb to an elevation of 13,000 feet, creating a outback space featuring 4 wheel drive trails and rugged hiking expeditions. For less of a challenge, hike through the grassland, shrub land, and wetlands surrounding the Dunes area on three sides.
Visiting the Great Sand Dunes in Colorado is a year-round adventure. Springtime can be warm and sunny or you may be faced with cold winds and blizzard conditions. Visitors are be prepared for anything. Camping space is available at the Pinyon Flats Campground, featuring 88 different individual sites, and they are assigned on the first come, first serve basis. Camps often fill up on weekends when the weather is ideal, so arrive early if you want a guaranteed space. There are also ten group camp spaces available by reservation. Near the Sand Dunes park entrance is the privately owned Oasis campground, an alternative if the Dune's sites fill up.
There are backpacking sites available for those exploring the park and the Medano Pass Primitive Road Campsites are open for those with 4 wheel drive vehicles who can reach the sites. Spring programs include ranger programs, and summer features children's programs, and evenings at the ampitheratre, as well as regularly scheduled nature walks. The Oasis store and restaurant is open every season except winter and provides visitors with fuel and groceries. The Great Sand Dunes Lodge is nearby and is a modern motel located behind the store and restaurant. It usually opens during late spring.
Every summer about 300,000 people visit the park. Temperatures are usually around 80 degree, with a nightly low around 40 degrees during the summer months.. Hiking the dunes is a great way to pass time in the morning and early evening. The sites is accessible for wheelchairs and afternoon activities include hiking in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. A half-mile hike away is Zapata Falls where hikers can swim and cool off. The visitors center of the park is open during the summer months and is a great place to learn about the area.
Fall is also a great time to visit the park and the colors will amaze you as you hike through the area. Temperatures range into the 60's and 70's during the day and usually drop into the 30's at night. Fall colors peak near the end of September. The crowds are reduced in the fall so it is easy to hike and relax in solitude and peace. Hunting is permitted in the area, so if you plan to hike, wear bright clothing in order to alert hunters in the area.
The Great Sand Dunes is an excellent place to explore nature in an unusual way. If your family wants a unique hiking and camping experience, this is the place.