One of the first stops on our Colorado roadtrip to Utah was the Great Sand Dunes National Park one of the many places we used our annual National Park Pass. This was Jesse’s 3rd and Quan’s first trip the park.  Jesse has previously come here in 2009 and 2014, both during the winter.

Though it was a bit of a detour on our way to Durango, this was high on both of our Colorado bucket list especially as this year the Great Sand Dunes experienced a rare natural phenomenon where the nearby Medano Creek had a “surge flow” resulting in a river at the foot of the Sand Dunes.

It’s an awe inspiring drive as you approach the enormous Sand Dunes as far as the eye can see surrounded by several 14,000 foot mountain ranges.  These are the highest Sand Dunes in North America and definitely earn their spot on the Colorado Bucket List!

We arrived at noon, at the height of the heat and would give the following advice to anyone traveling to the Sand Dunes in the summer:

  • Try to arrive at any time but Noon which is at the height of the summer heat
  • Wear Sneakers: Even though you’ll get sand in them, you’ll appreciate the protection from the heat.
  • Wear a Head Covering & Sun Glasses: The glasses come in handy if the wind picks up and a small sand storm ensues!
  • Bring water for sure, and if you have time pack a lunch to have once you reach the top of one of the Sand Dune peaks.
  • Sandboarding is allowed so be prepared: We saw sleds, boards, skis, and the top of plastic containers

Our personal favorite parts of the hike were:

1. Getting our Squats On at the Sand Dunes (more on our plans to stay fit while on a road trip in a later post)

2. Sitting at the top of a Sand Dune and taking in the views

3. Exploring the Medano “Surge Flow” : We walked the makeshift river and found an area where snow melt converged with water heated by the sun and 90 degree temps:

​4. Sand Dunes Walking Meditation:  The decision of  how to walk through hot sand  at the height of summer heat reminded Quan of her Duke professor Dan Ariely’s research on behavioral economics. We tried both a slow and steady, mind over matter  “Sand Dune Meditation” as well as this approach:

Overall a great first stop! We would recommend the Sand Dunes For anyone’s Colorado Bucket List!