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Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

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Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is the focal point of this drive. Thirty-square miles of shifting shapes and dancing light is a breathtaking sight to behold. Photographers know that light of sunrise and sunset reveal the most dramatic scenes, so camp here if possible, with the added bonus of dazzling stargazing, or get an early start. Make your own trails as you explore the dunes, five of which are over 700-feet tall. Star Dune is the tallest at 755-feet. Divided into two sections — the Park and Preserve offer different activities. At the Park, along with hiking, you can sand-board or sled on the dunes. Rentals available nearby, your winter sleds or cardboard will not work. A dune-accessible wheelchair is available for loan at the Visitor Center. But take heed, in peak afternoon, the sand temperature can reach 150F degrees and lightning strikes are more common, so plan your hikes or sledding in the morning or early evening. The further you go from the parking lot the more spectacular and private the experience, but make sure you have the strength (and ample water) for the hike back. Walking on sand is difficult. If you’re not into trudging on the dunes, or it’s too hot, there are forested trails, such as the short Montville Loop Trail, or the 7-mile Mosca Pass Trail. In stark contrast to the dry temperatures and sand dunes, Mendano Creek offers a space to splash and wade. The depth of the creek depends on the season, but is typically most lush in spring. Stop in the Visitor Center, which features displays on the dune geology and a short film, perfect for when the afternoon heats up. Don’t miss participating in a ranger-led program which examines the dunes, wildlife, or the night sky. The Preserve offers back-country hiking, off-roading and primitive camping. There is an entrance fee covered by an America The Beautiful Pass.

Visitor Center

11999 State Highway 150

Mosca, CO 81146

(719) 378-6395



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