|Visitors with sleds head up the High Dune|
|Medano Creek and Mt. Herald (13,345')|
|San Luis Lake with Dunes in the Distance|
- On your way into the park, stop off at the San Luis Lakes State Wildlife Area to get a beautiful glimpse of the dunes with the San Luis Lake in the foreground.
- Upon arriving at the park, be sure to stop by the visitor's center (elevation 8,175') -- this will help orient you to the park, learn of its history, and provide breathtaking views of the dunes and the mountains beyond. (Click here for Visitor Center Webcam)
- Walk across Medano Creek and hike up to the High Dune (about 2 hours roundtrip)
- Push on past the High Dune to the highest dune in North America, Star Dune (5 hour roundtrip hike).
- Explore the perimeter trails: Mosca Pass Trail, Montville Nature Trail, Wellington Ditch Trail, and the Sand Ramp Trail.
- For the truly adventurous take the Medano Pass Primitive Road over Medano Pass to Westcliffe, CO. You'll need a high clearance, four wheel drive vehicle! Click here for more information.
- Visit nearby Zapata Falls
- Camp under the stars in the Piñon Flats Campground or one of the many campgrounds in the area.
|Hikers dwarfed by the scale of the dunes [click to enlarge]|
|The view upon entering the park|
- The Star Dune, North America's highest sand dune, stands 755' tall. High Dune reaches 699'.
- The temperature of the sand can reach 140 degrees in the summer
- The 22 mile drive over Medano Pass (10,040') requires 9 creek crossings and takes approximately three hours (expect to average less than 10 mph!)
- 11 inches - the total annual precipitation at the dunes.
- Mount Herald is named for Ulysses Herard who homesteaded in the mountain meadows along Medano Creek in 1875.
- People have lived in the area of the dunes for 11,000 years.
- The dunes are said to be among the quietest places in the US:
Click here for an Insider’s Guide To Great Sand Dunes National Park.
Click here to see more of my photos of the park.