Great Sand Dunes National Park

Sand dunes in Colorado may be an unexpected site, but they are sure amazing. Created over the vast reaches of times, these ever-changing landscapes are so much more than piles of sand. The tallest dunes in North America rise about 750 feet over the San Luis Valley. When visiting Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve just outside Mosca and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, travelers can admire the dunes and the other interesting landscapes.

The list of things to do at the Great Sand Dune National Park suit people visiting for anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Camping, backpacking, driving tours, picnicking, wildlife watching, and hiking are popular options, in addition to watching the dunes.

Hearty types can head into the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness, where miles of trails wind past Alpine meadows, scenic lakes, and other dramatic landscapes. The Montville Nature Trail and Mosca Pass trail also are interesting places to explore while exploring Great Sand Dunes National Park. The Mosca Pass winds through one of the most scenic canyons found anywhere. In the spring, the wildflowers are just amazing, as are the views of Zapata Falls.

Visitors are welcome 24 hours a day at the Great Sand Dunes National Park, no matter what the season. Hours vary for the exhibits and operations at the visitor center, which is open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the winter. Spring and summer hours are typically 9 to 5, and 9 to 6 in the summer.

Visitors have many options for Great Sand Dunes National Park camping. For all of the individual sites, access is available on a first-come, first-served basis; no reservations are accepted. As long as space is available, campers can register for their site any time of day. Groups of 10 to 100 can make reservations for tent camping.

Just a mile from the Visitor Center lies Pinyon Flats Campground, which offers 88 spots that can accommodate six people and two tents. Large trees shade some of the sites, while others are nestled in the pinyon trees. Half of the campsites are open all year, and one of the restroom facilities is heated in the winter. In the summer, this location for Great Sand Dunes National Park camping fills up quickly on weekends, with most of the sites taken by noon. During the week, campers typically arrive later in the day.

Great Sand Dunes National Park camping also can accommodate RVs, although no hook-ups for electrical or water are provided. The larger vehicles might have difficultly maneuvering through the tight turns, but there are plenty of campgrounds within a short drive of the park that accommodate big RVs. Primitive camping is allowed at 25 designated campsites along the Medano Road. Like the tent camping, sites are available to whoever gets there first.

In addition to camping, visitors have many choices for lodging near Great Sand Dunes National Park. Cabins, standard motels, even a ranch or two are located within a short drive. Just outside the entrance to the park, the Great Sand Dunes lodge specializes in mountain lodging and warm hospitality. Guests are treated to views of the mountains, the dunes, and the expansive San Luis Valley from the private patios.

Other options for lodging near Great Sand Dunes National Park can be found in the nearby cities. LaVeta, Westcliffe, and Silvercliffe offer easy access to the eastern reaches of the park from their hotels, RV parks, campsites, and bed and breakfasts. Hooper is close to the Western edge of the park.

Within 50 miles, travelers can book lodging near Great Sand Dunes National Park in Alamosa, Monte Vista, Fort Garland, and others.

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