Great Sand Dunes National Park: More than just sand dunes

Great Sand Dunes National Park: More than just sand dunes

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is home to North America's tallest sand dunes, but there's so much more to see and do at this park.

The park encompasses a full watershed, and visitors can hike up toward Great Sand Dunes' alpine lakes and ridgelines to take in the views and simply enjoy the silence.

In springtime, Medano Creek flows above ground, creating a shallow beach where visitors can wade or drift down the current.

Sand sledding and sandboarding are popular activities at Great Sand Dunes, though visitors have to rent the specially designed boards and sleds at shops outside of the parks.

Visitors should plan for one to two days in the parks, three if camping and more if they want to go backpacking.

Each night, the park's dark skies put on a spectacular show, and visitors can walk along the dunes by moonlight.

The park is open all year, but the visitor's center closes on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day, and the campground is closed from November 1 through March 31.

The nearest town to Great Sand Dunes is Alamosa, Colorado, which has a small airport. The next biggest airport is Colorado Springs, and Denver International Airport is roughly four hours away.

Great Sand Dunes is home to a wide range of wildlife, including Sandhill cranes, American pika, kangaroo rats, bighorn sheep, mountain lions, black bears, elk, and Abert's squirrels.

Eighteen Native tribes have historic ties to the land, which the Navajo (Diné) call Tsé-whíz-hosh, meaning "sand comes back down on you."

Hopi, Jicarilla Apache, Navajo (Diné), Ohkay Owingeh, Pueblo of Acoma, Pueblo of Isleta, Pueblo of Jemez, Pueblo of Picuris, Pueblo of Pojoaque, Pueblo of San Ildefonso,

Pueblo of Santa Ana, Santa Clara Pueblo, Taos Pueblo, Pueblo of Zia, Southern Ute, Ute Tribe of the Uinta and Ouray Reservation, Ute Mountain Ute, and Zuni.

During the summer, Great Sand Dunes hosts cultural demonstrations with various tribal members.

The park also partners with tribal groups who may want to gather traditional ingredients.

Great Sand Dunes National Park (hidden gem in the Colorado Rockies) is a unique and diverse landscape with something to offer everyone.

Whether you're interested in hiking, camping, sand sledding, or simply enjoying the peace and quiet of nature, Great Sand Dunes is a must-visit destination.