Great Sand Dunes National Park in southern Colorado is insane!! It’s home to the largest sand dunes in North America! It was here we tried sand sledding for the first time, and definitely not last time.
Being on the hot, hot sand with the snow-capped mountains in the background was absolutely incredible!! This place is so drastically different than any other National Park I’ve been to, and I’ve been to quite a few. Here you have the best of both worlds. It’s so surreal!
It may not look like it, but it takes about 2-3 hours to get to the top of the dunes! It’s definitely a workout. Before you journey up, don’t forget about the journey back!
The elevation is high and there is no relief from the sun. At all! The wind can really pick up and the air temperatures can drop drastically despite the sun. I can’t imagine visiting in summer. Even in the spring, the sun was super intense despite the somewhat cooler air temps.
You have to cross wet sand to get to the dunes so you either need Keens or some other similar wet/dry shoe or maybe even take your shoes off altogether. You then definitely need them right back on for the dry sand! It’s scorching! You absolutely cannot walk on the sand barefoot! Try it, I dare you! Keep this in mind if you bring pets also! You will absolutely burn their little bitty paws.
Don’t forget sunscreen and lots of water! Goggles and sunglasses to keep sand out of your eyes are a great idea, too. Even for the littles.
The girls were so funny waxing up their disc for sand-sledding which is very popular here. They looked like little surfer girls. It was adorable!!
Sand sledding is a lot easier than it looks. The park itself doesn’t sell/rent sleds. You must stop at the little shops on the side of the road leading up to the park entrance. Don’t worry, you will definitely see them! With your rental, they will also give you a wax disc for getting that board nice and slippery! *Snow sled and sand sleds we have learned are very different. Don’t bother bringing one, they won’t work here!
I would highly, highly recommend a stop here if you’re in the area! Great Sand Dunes was so vast and we felt so free!!
*Don’t forget a stop on the ranger station for some cool interactive kiosks if you have kiddos!
We hit this park and made our way to Mesa Verde all in the same day! It’s totally doable! The drive from here to Mesa is a straight one and it’ absolutely beautiful! More so than I expected! You will pass over the Rio Grande, through both the Rio Grande and San Juan National Forests. Leave a little room for these two! They are stunning especially in late spring where there’s still snow! DO NOT drive on these roads at night however. Time it right! See my post for Treasure Falls and the forests if this is a drive you may be taking! Also, the views leading up to this park…not so terrible…