National Parks National Parks

Colorado National Parks
Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve


In the San Luis Valley of Colorado - Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve

Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado, Photo by Michael Hartzog
Vacation Near The Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve

Colorado's Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve is located in Southern Colorado. Attracting about 300,000 visitors a year, America's tallest dunes (750') cover 30 square miles and are nestled right next to the Sangre de Cristo mountains, 35 miles northeast of Alamosa. The park is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The Great Sand Dunes National Park with the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Colorado
The Great Sand Dunes laying in the Shadow of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains
People on the Great Sand Dunes with Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Colorado, Photo by Michael Hartzog
Hike, Explore, and Discover the Vastness of the Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve


The Visitor Center provides some wonderful information for your tour of the Sand Dunes where you can learn more about the park through a 15-minute video, exhibits, and a bookstore.

Log in front of the Great Sand Dunes, Colorado, Photo by Michael Hartzog
Wade in the Medano Creek Before it Disappears Into the Sand
Sun Flower on the Great Sand Dunes, Colorado, Photo by Michael Hartzog
Water Reappears in Different Ways in the Great Sand Dunes


The Sand Dunes offer numerous activities. One of the most popular is hiking, as the area is filled with countless trails. Some of these hikes take a few minutes while others take hours. Hiking to the top of the High Dune is a popular endeavor; though it is not the tallest dune, it appears that way from the visitor center. This hike is not done on a trail; hikers zigzag up the sandy dune for a 650' gain. The view from the top of the dune is worth the effort to get there. Other hikes include the challenging Zapata Falls trail, which takes the hiker to the picturesque Zapata waterfall. For the not so adventurous soul, the Sand Ramp Trail takes you on an easy hike through the dunes. Many of the other trails can be toured with a trail guide, giving insight about the history of the dunes. These trails are beautiful and must be undertaken by foot; bikes are not permitted on the trails.

Ranger program at the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Colorado, Photo by the Calkins Family
Participate in the National Park Junior Ranger Program
Sledding down the Great Sand Dunes, Colorado
Sled Down a Dune - A Unique Colorado Experience!


Another popular activity is sand-boarding and sand sledding. It's perfect for the skiers/snowboarders who are just itching to get up into the mountains during the summer months. But you can't use the same equipment; sandboards/sleds are specially designed for use on the sand. The best times to go are in Spring and Fall during the early morning hours to beat the heat and daily thunderstorms. Please note: the National Park does not rent boards and sleds.

Other activities include castle building, kite flying contests, summer concerts, and photography workshops sponsored by Friends of the Dunes Inc. Also, if the area has received enough moisture, you can wade in the waters of Medano Creek, which flows at the base of the dunes. Originating as snow on the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Medano Creek first flows to high alpine lakes, then through dense spruce and fir forest, beaver meadows and large aspen and cottonwood groves before it reaches the dunes. The water seems to disappear in the sand - only to reappear as ponds and verdant wetlands on the west side of the dunes.

The Park bustles with wildlife; common sightings include mule deer, elk, coyotes, golden and bald eagles, ravens, magpies, and just outside park boundaries bison. Other interesting creatures include insects that have adapted to the sand and are unique to the area.


View an area map of the Great Sand Dunes
(Map provided by the U.S. National Park Service)


From I-25 in Colorado Springs, take exit 146 and head west on Garden of the Gods Road. Follow to its end ("T" intersection) at 30th Street; turn left (south) and go about 1.5 miles. The visitor center will be on the left and the park entrance on the right.
From south: reached by US Highway 160 and Colorado Highway 15.
From west: reached by Highway 17 and County Six Mile Lane.

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Places to Stay & Fun Things to Do

Belmont del Norte Vacation Home Photos available on Colorado vacation page New Colorado vacation business
Sitting high on its own mountain, Belmont del Norte is described as Eclectic Santa Fe. The area has the look of Northern New Mexico, while only 15 minutes from the forests of Colorado's Rocky Mountains.
Casa del Soul Lodging link to Colorado vacation
Private, comfortable, clean lodging in one and two bedroom suites with full kitchens, cable, WI-FI. Casa del Soul is 100% smoke free! In Crestone, near 24 spiritual centers, Great Sand Dunes National Park.
Great Sand Dunes Lodge link to Colorado vacation
Alamosa, 32 miles. Enjoy the serenity of the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Relax at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Lodge rooms with Queen or King beds. Heated indoor pool. FREE WI-FI.
Great Sand Dunes Oasis, Campground, RV Park & Cabins link to Colorado vacation
32 miles NE of Alamosa, at the entrance of Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. Striking oasis view of Dunes in San Luis Valley. Campground: camper cabins, full hookup RV park, tenting area.
PathFinders 4x4 Jeep Rentals & Tours link to Colorado vacation
Be a Pathfinder, drive a Jeep! Rentals and Tours that will take you off the beaten path while you discover Colorado's historical heritage the San Luis Valley. NEW tours inside Great Sand Dunes National Park!
Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area link to Colorado vacation Photos available on Colorado vacation page
Southern Colorado's Vacation Paradise! Your family will explore our National Heritage Area, the San Luis Valley, and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains: Great Sand Dunes National Park, train rides, river fishing.

More Activities & Information

Alamosa, Colorado includes: Blanca, Capulin, Center, Fort Garland, Hooper, Mosca, San Luis, Sanford

San Luis Valley - Northern, Colorado includes: Crestone, Mineral Hot Springs, Moffat, Saguache, Villa Grove

National Parks and Monuments in Colorado

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