Drive Hike Repeat

When we decided to make an American West road trip, a stop by the Great Sand Dunes National Park was near the top of Kelly's list. I was just along for the ride so I figured why not. We arranged our trip so that this was our last National Park of the trip and our planning included visiting each of the five National Parks in Colorado during the same trip. 

It's not cool to play favorites with National Parks because they're all the favorite. But, well, this one was particularly awesome. Definitely a top ten day of 2015.

We pulled in to the park in the afternoon and spent a blustery day climbing up into the dunes. The wind was blowing so fiercely that we had to walk backwards whenever we faced into the wind. Kelly snapped the selfie below to capture the results of the afternoon. That's neither dirt nor scruff plastered all over his face--it's sand sticking to him from the wind. 

Sandy Face Selfie

The next day, we packed up from our hotel room in nearby Alamosa and headed back out for another morning of wandering. And wander we did. We crossed the creek that flows in front of the sand dunes and then packed up our shoes, wandering for hours barefoot over the dunes. It was a chilly and calm morning with clouds in the sky to keep the sand from getting too hot. My FitBit gave us credit for about 8 miles of walking, although it should be noted that I did A LOT of pacing while Kelly was shooting some time lapse videos. He's pretty obsessed with dunes. I've gathered a few of his favorite shots in the gallery below. 

All told, this park was perfect for a one day visit. The walking was challenging but accessible and the feeling of sand between my toes the whole time was pretty glorious. The sporadically soft sand gave our legs an excellent workout for the last day of the trip. Next time, we hope to bring our tent up into the dunes because you can pitch one wherever you want. 

After the morning of meandering, it was time to head back to Denver for one last night with family before our flight home the next day.

Pro Tip: Sand sledding is a popular past time here but please be cautious. On our first day, we witnessed someone being carried down who had broken his neck while sledding on the dunes. 

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