Great Sand Dunes is our favorite. SinceOf the National Parks we’ve visited (which is a lot, but we’ve barely scratched the surface), our first visit in 2006, we’ve returned twice to camp and explore the fascinating, ever-changing dunes. The ecology of the place is so diverse that it makes for a wonderful educational experience, but the place is also just plain fun!

The dunes cover about 19,000 acres of the park’s 85,000 acres in the San Luis Valley of south central Colorado. With some rising to around 750 feet, the preserve holds the North America’s tallest sand dunes.

We camped over night and were able to take advantage of a beautiful sunset over the dunes in the west and a sunrise over the Sangre de Cristo range to the east.

If you’ve ever hiked a dune you know how strenuous it can be. Every two steps up, you slide one and half back. You shoes constantly fill with sand and can cause cramping in your feet as they start arching in odd ways. Once at the top though, the view makes the trek worthwhile and the icing on the cake is being able to run down! Watch the videos below for an idea of what a blast it can be cruising down the slopes with hardly any way to stop yourself.

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