Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado

When I think of sand dunes, I picture the dunes at Kitty Hawk and the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Dunes I’ve climbed as a child, watching the waves of the Atlantic Ocean crash below. But this summer I discovered sand dunes much closer to my home, dunes I’ve known about most of my life, but never visited. And never even knew what I was missing.

I’ve driven past the Great Sand Dunes National Park near Alamosa, Colorado and seen the dunes at a distance and thought, yeah, there’s a bunch of sand over there. This fall, my husband suggested we take a drive down to see the dunes. I agreed, thinking I should at least visit this Colorado tourist attraction once.

What I didn’t expect to see were sculpted mountains of sand
with the Sangre de Cristo Mountains soaring above them.
I couldn’t take my eyes off of the dunes. The subtle changes in the colors in the sand and the shadows in the contours gave the dunes the appearance of a watercolor painting. I could see a few tiny dots on the dunes and realized they were people climbing the dunes.

After touring the visitor center, we walked down to the sand. The sand was as fine as that of the Outer Banks. Footprints dimpled the sandy plain. In fact, if it weren’t for the mountains, I could almost imagine I was spending a day at the beach. I did miss the sound of the crashing waves, though.
Photos by Gayle Gresham 2012
 For more information about The Great Sand Dunes National Park, visit  
Another great resource is The San Luis Valley: Sand Dunes and Sandhill Cranes by Susan J. Tweit.

Gayle Gresham is a freelance writer and a librarian in Colorado. She is the 2012 VP of Marketing for Women Writing the West. Gayle’s articles have appeared in Colorado Country Life, Country Extra, and Today’s Christian Woman. Visit her blog at 




Past and Present with Pamela said...

I've never heard of a national park with giant sand dunes, and in Colorado, far from the ocean. I wonder where all that sand came from. It sounds beautiful, with different colors of sand.

Gayle Gresham said...

Here's a video about how the sand dunes were formed.Hope you have a chance to visit it someday.

Gayle Gresham said...

Oops! Here's the link.

Heidiwriter said...

Wow, this is a unique phenomenon! Where did the sand come from? It's beautiful.