Great Sand Dunes National Park

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I’ve heard many awesome things about the sand dunes here in Colorado. After Riley got his hands on a free map of our state and repeatedly asked to go to the dunes while pointing at it on the map, we realized we needed to go. The Great Sand Dune National Park and Preserve is located at the base of the Sangre de Cristo range. Spending a day at the dunes is definitely worth the almost 3 hour drive from Colorado Springs.

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We didn’t know what to expect when we arrived at the park. We paid the small $7 entrance fee and once I saw those dunes, I immediately regretted the decision of not camping. We brought our hiking books, a change of clothes, a beach towel and our swim suits, but we didn’t bring our tent. Terrible decision!

After we parked, we headed towards the dunes and saw several people dressed in their bathing suits. We had to cross Medano Creek which had some areas of really fast moving water. I was surprised at how I had to focus on keeping my balance in the fast moving creek. Riley, on the other hand, was incredibly excited and welcomed the fast currents with laughter and smiles.

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After we passed the creek, we hiked towards one of the highest peaks of the dunes. At that moment, I completely forgot how hard it is to walk through sand. As we walked along the sand and climbed up the hill, my heart was pounding and my back was soon drenched in sweat. I had to take several breaks because I thought my heart would explode. Luckily, I had the excuse to take pictures along the way, so it made for productive breaks.

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When we got to the top, we were drained and exhausted, but the view was worth it. What an amazing sight being on top of a giant sand dune while looking at beautiful snow capped mountains. The view was stunning and bewildering at the same time. I kept asking, “how is this possible?” Standing there and taking in the sights makes one realize how absolutely amazing nature is. Our world has an assortment of amazing things to see and how lucky were we to witness this!

Once we reached the top, a photo shoot was obviously due. Storm clouds began to approach and in the distance we could see rain pouring on the plains. In addition to the rain, thunder began to rumble and bolts of lightning became apparent. Other visitors began making their way down, so it was also our cue to get the heck out of there and avoid becoming a lightning rod. We took pictures quickly and ran down the dunes a hundred times quicker than it took us to go up.

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Look at the rain!
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I spy Clayton (on the left) and Riley (on the right) .

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As we made our way down, we still planned on taking a swim through Medano Creek. Unfortunately, as the storm rolled through, the wind became unbearably cold and the creek water suddenly turned very chilly. Riley was bummed about our change of plans, but we promised we would be back, and we definitely will.

Next time we’ll plan on camping. I read the stars are pretty amazing at night. We’ll also plan on hiking the highest dune at an early time so we can spend the rest of the afternoon swimming in the creek before the thunderstorms roll through. Overall, an extremely cool place that I could visit again and again. Riley is already asking to go back!

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