Great Sand Dunes National Park – Colorado

Blog entry posted by Lisa

After our two week stay at the Air Force Academy Campground, we relocated to Haggard’s RV Park in Pueblo, Colorado to be closer to family who lives there.  We also hooked up with our friends, Brittany and Eric from RV Wanderlust for a few days of comraderie and campfires.

When our RV friends weren’t working (they still have jobs), we’d get together with them for an outing or some chow.  One of those mornings, we all rose early to drive to the Great Sand Dunes National Park.

Brittany and Eric gladly agreed to drive if we packed a picnic lunch for the trip.  It was about a three hour drive to the Dunes.

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is actually quite young; established in 2004.  It sprawls some 150,000 acres; across part of Southern Colorado’s San Luis Valley, a broad and plain between the San Juan Mountains on the west and the Sangre de Cristos on the east.  The tallest dune towers over 750 feet.

Streams and creeks flowing out of the San Juan Mountains over millennia carried gravel and sand into shallow lakes in the San Luis Valley. During drought periods, these lakes dried, releasing the sand particles to the action of the wind. Strong prevailing southwesterly winds carry the tiny grains toward the Sangre de Cristos, piling them up against the foothills. The resulting dunes are the tallest in North America, covering more than 30 square miles. Adults hike across them and marvel at their beauty; children run and slide down their steep faces, enjoying a playground of fairy-tale proportions.  You can read more about how they formed and their geological natures here.

Once we got to the entrance, we stopped for photos because, in our world, it didn’t happen unless there were pictures!  And of course, so we’d have photos for our blog!

We enjoyed getting a little smarter at the Visitor Center (video and hands-on informational exhibits) and getting our National Park Passport stamped.  We then headed to the picnic area where we chowed down on our cooler full of vittles.

After packing up leftover crumbs of our lunch, we all trekked out to the base of the Dunes and climbed up one of them. 

 WHEW!!!  It was already a very warm day so it seemed like it was a little more work than it should have been.  Being that Eric has bad knees and I have knee and back issues, we hung out at the top of the smallest dune to watch Brittany and Dan (with one bottle of water each) challenge themselves to take it to the top of the highest Dunes.  Now remember, we are already some 6000′ above sea level, so this was a bit more challenging than just taking a stroll up a 750′ hill…plus, it was sand…loose sand…that gets in your shoes sand.

While Eric and I stood there chatting for what seemed forever (because we stood there in the heat for all of it), Brittany and Dan disappeared over the crest of the first dune and then looked like little ants the further they hiked.  Their words upon their return, ‘it was quite exerting; one step forward, three steps back and doing it at higher altitude, we just couldn’t catch our breath’.  They also said they had to stop often to empty their shoes which weighted them down.  Traipsing through loose sand, one can imagine how much work that would be.  Adding to that, it was a very warm day; about 85 degrees.  A couple times, we’d see one of them, bend over; seemingly, they both would stop for awhile.  They said they were offered water by some passerby’s (hikers that were faster and more in shape as them?!).  Then we’d see them start up again.  Anyways, an hour and a half later, they successfully made it to the top.  When they returned back to us, they were red-faced and a bit dehydrated so Eric and I sacrificed our own water bottles to get them back to looking a normal color.  But LOOK at them!!  

Lookin’ all proud as they should be!  

It was a fun trip!  A little ‘RV Family Bonding’ is what we call it.  Dan and Brittany felt celebrated and accomplished.  I bought them each their own ‘I climbed the Great Sand Dunes’ sticker for their vehicles (if there were trophies, I would have bought them too!).

On the drive back, our tummies were growling so Eric took to googling places to eat in Pueblo.  We agreed on the Bingo Burger which turned out to be a very deserved and pleasant meal.  Fantastic burgers!

Good friends!  Good times!!  
Great memories!!


2 Replies to “Great Sand Dunes National Park – Colorado”

  1. We had a great time too! Dan felt so accomplished considering he's almost twice Brittany's age. Someone had to stay behind to cheer them on…and save them some water.

    Bingo Burger ROCKED!! Going there again when we go back for our son's wedding.

Leave a Reply