There aren’t many places where you can lay on the sand and see snow-capped mountain peaks. Welcome to the tallest sand dunes in North America.
The most heart-pumping experience in the park is sand sledding or sandboarding the dunes, but you’ll have to hike up these monsters before you can hang ten! Bring your camera along for some sweet shots of the action (or, of your friends tumbling down the dunes). Snow stuff won’t work on sand so rent some gear at Great Sand Dunes Oasis or Kristi Mountain Sports.
If you’re feeling froggy, hike the 6 miles to summit Star Dune—at 755 feet, it’s the tallest one in the park. Hiking isn’t just limited to the sand, there’s forested trails and alpine lakes and lots of places to pop your tent overnight. If you prefer an equestrian mode of travel, horses are allowed in the park (BYOH). In the late spring/early summer, catch one of the one of natural water slides formed by melting snow at Medano Creek. If it’s not, try the hidden Zapata Falls, just a half-mile jaunt through chilly water (or a log bridge). Those with high clearance four-wheel drive vehicles might want give Medano Pass Road a spin—22 miles of soft sand and nine creek crossings.
With all of the options available at the Great Sand Dunes, it’s easy to see why even with sand in your socks, this place is so beloved.