This past Saturday we went here to the sand dunes in Southern Colorado. It was a long 2.5 hour drive from my home up in the Northeast Colorado Springs home. Driving there was fun and my anticipation was getting the best of me. I kept thinking what it was going to be like once I arrived. I thought perhaps it would very hot, sand would be blowing all over and into my hair. I knew the dunes were going to be big, but nothing prepared me to how huge they actually were and how long it would take to just climb just halfway up a dune. Sand dunes are nothing new; they are part of my childhood. In Brazil, we’d go to a beach and this particular beach had 4 story high sand dunes that my friends I would slide down in plastic bags into what we called “Coca Cola Lake” because it looked like soda. Another vacation in Fortaleza would consist of riding in a dune buggy up and down the dunes and screaming our heads off. I thought it would be fun to check out “the biggest sand dunes in the USA”.
Once you turn into the National Park where the Sand Dunes are, you think you are there right? Not so. You then drive 19 more miles to see the dunes! Just as you turn a corner you suddenly see them rising up from the horizon like a mirage of a different land. Just beyond the dunes you see a stark contrast not just in color, but in topography of the Rocky Mountains, guarding the dunes from behind as if to control the sands to not move any closer to them.
There is a visitor’s center which is lovely and some information about the ever changing sand dunes and how they change. From this vantage point you can see how big the dunes are and as I looked closer I saw tiny little dots moving up and down the dunes. People! How small they appeared! I couldn’t wait any longer and wanted to join them and start walking as far as I could up the dunes.
After parking the car, you walk down a little trail surrounded by local bushes and trees which then opens up to this scene above. Once seeing the dunes in front of me, I felt like I entered planet Tatooine (Star Wars reference for all you Star Wars fans out there like myself). The air was very cool and not humid at all. Even the wind was gentle and starting to cool my already forming sweat beads on my forehead from the blazing Colorado sun. The sand here is a little too soft and hard to walk on. I noticed there were several types of consistency in the type of sands we walked on. It took about 15 minutes or so to get to the dunes from this point.
Halfway there! Good thing we brought water!
Our view from the first dune we climbed!
Taking a rest. I lost count all the times I had to take off my shoes and dump mounds of sand from them. Yes, I know I could have walked barefoot, but you never know what lies beneath the sand that could cut your feet. By this point, you are already an hour away from the parking lot in walking distance.
As I surveyed the vast land before me and thought how I am the mistress of my dune domain, I drew this heart. Love.
As we continued to walk up another dune, I came across these footprints that just begged to be photographed. This part of the hike was easy to walk on as the sand was firmer, but the ascent was still a bit of a struggle.
Even though this picture is darker than the others, I still like this picture. Depending where the sun was and the glare, some pictures came out darker or lighter than the others. This picture gives forth a solemn mood yet it’s so delicate and soothing.
This is a view looking towards the parking lot and the surrounding mountains.
We walked along this ledge of a sand dune to get to another sand dune. The other side just dropped several stories below. This was taken coming back trying to beat the sun. Much to my surprise, some people were heading towards the dunes.
Heading back. What a view!
This couple were ahead of us when we were ascending the dunes. Going back they booked it to the parking lot.
Remember that one photo where I mentioned it dropped several stories below from a ledge? Here is a better view as we approached it. It wasn’t scary at all walking along it, but once you slide down the side it’s hard to climb back up because the sand just carries you down. No bueno.
Stacked pancake clouds! Made me hungry. Anyways, if you look real hard you can see people on top of the dunes or walking up the dunes. We noticed many dogs were also climbing up the dunes and happily barking at other dogs, playing in the sand. The sound of a cute laughter of a little girl filled the dunes, something was making her laugh so much. If she had continued any longer I would have been creeped out. It was just great just sitting there and listening to everything. Everyone seemed happy. The thing we noticed was that as far as they were from us, we could easily hear what they were saying and talking about. Sound just traveled so easily between the dunes, it was not uncommon to hear several conversations all at once yet be so far away from everyone! According to my very unscientific estimate, everyone was about a good 45-60 minutes walk away from each other.
Overall, it was a great day and a place I’ve been wanting to go for a long time. I was not disappointed.
This blog post is dedicated to my youngest sister.
Be on a lookout for a video I’m working on. I’ll post it on here as soon as I can.
For more information about the dunes, check it out here: Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve