Hiking Great Sand Dunes National Park In Colorado

This was one of the most difficult physical things I’ve done.  Sound ridiculous, right?  I mean, I climbed a volcano, I’ve hiked to Delicate Arch, I’ve snowshoed on the side of a mountain, and I couldn’t make it to the top of one of these dunes.  Well, I need to get in shape.  Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado is extremely cool, and probably underrated.


This was another one of our stops on the way to Florida.  Yes, I know this is all so out of order, but it’s all here, and there’s at least one more Florida post on the way.  We didn’t know much about the park, like usual, before getting there, but we were both really excited to see it.  One thing I really liked was the mountain range right across from the dunes.


After a stop at the visitor center, we headed out to the dunes.  Thankfully we both had jackets and hats because it was extremely windy making it a lot colder than we anticipated.  We took our shoes off and headed up, starting small, making our way to the two biggest dunes.


It was easier to walk on the sides of the dunes instead of the top because of the wind and it was nice not being blasted by sand if we walked on the sides.  After climbing a few small ones, taking far too many breaks, we decided to go for the gold.


It felt like every twenty steps I had to stop to catch my breath.  And it felt like my legs just wouldn’t carry me any further.  We weren’t even carrying sand boards, which is one of the activities you can do there.  There are a few places to rent boards from in town.  I would rest, catch my breath, hydrate, and dread moving on, but I would get up and do it all again.  A few times my legs just kind of collapsed under me forcing me to stop, but I would do it all again.


While I may not have made it all the way to the top, I still enjoyed my time there.  It would have been much nicer without the wind and if I was in better shape, but I’m still glad we went and would love to go back a little more prepared.


Tips for visiting Great Sand Dunes National Park:

  • Wear sunglasses.  With the wind blowing, you’re likely to get it in your eyes.  Sunglasses will help keep it out.
  • Bring a small backpack to carry water and your shoes.
  • Go barefoot if it’s cool out, but in the heat of the summer, wear tennis shoes as the sand can be 150+ degrees.
  • Don’t be afraid to take breaks when you’re climbing the dunes.  It’s better to stop than pass out on the way up.
  • If you can, take time to explore the mountain side of the park.  I wish we could have done that.

Have you been to Great Sand Dunes?  What did you think of it?  Do you want to go?  Have you been to other dunes?  Which ones?

2 thoughts on “Hiking Great Sand Dunes National Park In Colorado

  1. This looks absolutely awesome – sand-boarding sounds pretty cool too, it makes me think of sledging but on sand! I’ve only ever seen smaller dunes at the edges of beaches in the UK, so nothing on this scale. I’d love to see the Grande Dune du Pilat one day, near Bordeaux, which is Europe’s tallest sand dune!

    1. Ohh that would be cool! This was my first time seeing sand dunes, so it was a pretty good first time haha. I’d love to see the ones in souther Utah, too.

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