Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Great Sand Dunes

Lynn and I drove to Southern Colorado and visited Great Sand Dunes
National Park and Preserve. As a camping trip, we took along our
tent and all of our camping gear. We'd visited Great Sand Dunes
about 10 years ago, but it was only a National Monument at the
time. It has since been elevated to National Park Status. These
dunes are the tallest in North America and is a place you pretty
much have to be going to as it is kind of in the middle of nowhere
and not on a busy highway.

It's still pretty early in the season and there is a lot of snow on
the peaks of the Sangre de Cristo mountains that border the park.

There are only a few dozen campsites open at this time of year since
it is still the shoulder season for the park, but many of the sites have
great views.

Our campsite has a nice view of the dunes through the trees.

Each site is really spacious, has a picnic table, fire pit and tent pad.
What really impressed me though was each site has a spacious
"Bear Box". This is necessary in this part of the country because if
one leaves food out, bears will find it, and least importantly eat your
food, but most importantly is very harmful to bears and wildlife in
general. Once they get a taste of human food, they are harmed
forever, because they will always want human food instead of
natural food that is good for them.

Despite windy conditions, our little tent was a trooper and held strong.

Along the road in the park, we saw lots of mule deer and even saw
a couple about 20 yards from our campsite.

This time of year, the snow melt from the Sangre de Cristoss flows
into Medano Creek, which runs in front of the dunes. Medano is
unique because it has a tidal type of flow and people that walk in
the creek can feel it moving back and forth. It's hard to explain
unless you've been here, but it is pretty amazing.

Because it was so windy, there weren't a lot of folks visiting the
park, but in a way that was nice because it definitely wasn't

There is a special starkness and beauty to the park. The dunes
are definitely a unique feature that more should make an effort to visit.

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