The winds blow across the plain from the San Juan Mountains toward the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, blowing sand. When the winds hit the Sangre de Cristo, the sand gets deposited against the Mountain. Result: a great sand dune. This is not your ordinary sand pile. These dunes are hundreds of feet high (as much as 755 feet) and cover many square miles of space. I didn't expect this in Colorado. We saw sand dunes in Michigan along the shore of Lake Michigan, the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, and along the pacific coast, but here in a semi-arid place? Surprising. And quite interesting. Could you resist climbing at least a little of the dunes?
We had heard about the park from Heather, and we finally made it this far east to see them. Worth the trip. And we got a chance to try our Jeep's 4 wheel drive sand traction. We decided to not drive across the dry sand where they said we needed to deflate our tires or we would get stuck, but at least we had a little test.
We viewed the dunes from the Dunes Parking then decided to walk up to them. It was a trek. Then we walked up a dune. When we got to the top, we saw that there were more, taller dunes beyond. Yes, it is a massive place.
As we were walking back, we saw some small tracks in the sand so we followed them, thinking they might be some mouse or other rodent. We were surprised to see that they were from a Great Sand Dunes Tiger Beetle. Our nature contact for the day!
The name of the place is Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. What's up with that? Turns out that some humters didn't want to give up their hunting grounds in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, so the part in the mountains is a preserve so hunting is allowed, unlike the National Park.
We stayed at the Great Sand Dunes Oasis, an RV park just outside the national park. We found that their laundry was closed and of course, we had to do some laundry, so we asked about the nearest town with a laundromat. Turns out that Alamosa was 20 miles away but if you need clean socks, off you go. The RV park was not very inviting, so we cut short our stay and headed early to our next destination, Monument Valley, by way of Durango. We stayed at KOA Durango, which was good.
Retirement is great. We bought a travel trailer and are exploring National Parks. (Actually, we bought one and sold it and bought a second one better suited to us. It happens...) And I have time to do some woodworking projects and things around the house. And now I have gotten interested in ham radio so there goes any free time.