Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado

Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado

Built from sand

According to, Great Sand Dunes National Park is located deep in southwest Colorado, United States. The area of ​​the national park is 343 km². About 250,000 visitors come to the national park every year. The center of the national park is a dune area that is gigantic for North America. The dune area of ​​the national park has an extension of about 60 km. The dunes tower up to a height of 230 meters.

Evening mood in the Great Sand Dunes National Park

In 1932, the dunes were declared a United States National Monument covering an area of ​​164 km². The city of Alamosa is located approximately 40 kilometers southwest of Great Sand Dunes National Park. There are also good accommodation options there.

Great Sand Dunes – a young national park

Only in 2004 did this landscape receive the status of a national park. The protected area was practically doubled in 2004 through the purchase of farmland. The extended area only has the status of a national preserve, hunting is permitted there. Parts of the Rio Grande National Forest, as well as the Barca National Wildlife Refuge in the western part of the protected area, are now part of the Great Sand Dunes National Park.

Desert landscape in Great Sand Dunes National Park – Colorado

Water and wind keep the dunes in shape

The extensive water system of the Rio Granderuns through this area. The rivers carried a lot of sand with them. This sand was then deposited in the valley of today’s national park and thus created the impressive natural monument in Colorado. The dunes in their current form are estimated to be 12,000 years old; the dunes are still growing. Protected by the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the dunes were able to develop. The meltwater from the Rocky Mountains supplies the dune protection area with its meltwater. Due to the moisture in the water, the sand remains heavy and cannot be blown away. Due to capillary action, the moisture is drawn far up into the upper areas of the dunes. The constant wind changes the surface of the dunes daily. Securing the continuous “water supply”

Snowy mountains and dunes in the national park

Big and small natural wonders

The natural wonder of the Great Sand Dunes can be seen on a small scale in Medano Creek. A small stream, formed by meltwater from the Rocky Mountains, meanders through masses of sand. New accumulations are constantly being created in the variable river bed, which are then removed again by the water. An interesting spectacle. In the foreground the stream, then the imposing dunes, in the background snow-capped mountains, this contrast in the Great Sand Dunes National Park is impressive. Away from the sandy monuments, there are idyllic lakes, green meadows and forests in the national park. Hiking is very possible there. Entering the dunes is allowed as the footprints do not cause any damage. Now and then you will find black sand. This is due to the iron oxide in it.

Wild back country of the national park

A spacious visitor center is located at the entrance to the national park. About 1 mile north of the Visitor Center is Pinyon Flats Campground. Camping in the hinterland of the national park is possible with permission from the park administration. The park rules must be observed, as there are also black bears in the national park. It can snow in Great Sand Dunes National Park from October to early May. If there is too much snow, access will be temporarily blocked. Apart from that, the national park is open all year round.

Visitor Center und Camping

A dead-end road leads from the Visitor Center to all major attractions in Great Sand Dunes National Park. There are no fixed paths in the dunes themselves. You can climb the dunes, but this can be a strenuous endeavor. In summer the sand is very hot. Good shoes are very important. When hiking through the national park, you should always carry drinking water with you. Away from the dunes you can hike through nature in front of an impressive mountain backdrop. There are numerous mountain lakes and extensive forests. In the valley, away from the dunes, grassland predominates.

Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado