Surf the mighty sand dunes that ripple near Great Sand Dunes National Park cabins, where the tallest dunes in North America dominate the horizon. A varied set of ecosystems attracts wildlife to the area and visitors to hotels near Great Sand Dunes National Park. Paddle-ready wetlands, whispering forests and Spartan tundra welcome you and your family to one of America's most unique national parks.
Places to Stay Near to Great Sand Dunes National Park
Must-Do Hikes in Great Sand Dunes National Park
From the highest peak in Colorado to the tallest sand dune in North America, Great Sand Dunes National Park is blessed with dramatic hiking trails. Here are some of the most scenic:
1. First Ridge Walk
Sublime views over the entire dune field wow spectators on this 2.5 mile hike. Hike on the crests of the ridges for most efficient travel and arrive at sunrise or sunset to see the dramatic shadows and avoid the heat. The walk takes around two hourse to complete.
2. Dunes Overlook
For a different perspective on the dunes, hike to Dunes Overlook, a trail that takes you 450 feet in elevation and 2.3 miles to spectacular vistas over the mighty sand dunes. Expect the hike to take around two hours.
3. Castle Creek Trail
Hike three miles to the picturesque picnic area at Castle Creek. The trail takes you from Sand Pit and along the sparkling Medano Creek. Allow about an hour and a half for this hike.
4. Monteville Nature Trail
Boasting views over the first dune ridge, this leafy trail takes you through whispering forest and takes just thirty minutes to explore. Along the way you will learn about the wildlife and ecology of the park. Grab a guide book from the visitor center.
5. Star Dune
The star of the show at the Great Sand Dunes National Park is the Star Dune, the largest (and most remote) dune in the park. It stands 755 foot high, making it taller than any dune in North America.
Best Outdoor Adventures in Great Sand Dunes National Park
Waterfalls and a vast canopy of stars open up to visitors to Great Sand Dunes National Park. Here are some of the biggest adventures that the park has to offer:
1. Zapata Falls Recreation Area
Hike to this twenty foot high waterfall, which shoots through a skinny canyon. The region offers jaw-dropping views of the whole dunefield. It's a half mile hike to the creek, and you will pass through a cave to reach the falls. Since the water is cold, and especially powerful in early summer, watch your step. Hike a ten mile round trip to South Zapata Lake via Ellingwood Peak.
2. Wildlife Watching
At dawn and dusk, elk, pronghorn and mule deer scamper across the mountainous grasslands of the park. The varied ecosystems in the park provide habitats for a diverse range of animals including coyotes, bobcats and eagles. Observe them in their natural habitats.
3. Star Gazing
You can explore the dunes by moonlight for an ethereal experience like no other. The vast theatre of stars that illuminates the night sky at the park is complimented by owl hoots and the scents of pine, juniper and wildflowers. Special Night Programs include talks and telescope-enhanced stargazing, which generally take place during the summer months.
Best Family Activities in Great Sand Dunes National Park
From surfing North America's tallest sand dunes to paddling about in creeks and lakes framed by mountains, Great Sand Dunes National Park cabins offer a vast playground that your family will treasure spending time in. Here are some of the exciting family outings to enjoy in the park:
1. Sand boarding and sledding
Your family have never experienced a sandbox quite like the Great Sand Dunes National Park. There are few places on earth where these activities are even possible, and Great Sand Dunes is one of the world's most picturesque playgrounds. Children yelp with joy as they race down the sand dunes in sleds and on boards. Pick up your gear 32 miles west of the Hooper Visitor Center.
2. Swim at the Sand Dunes Swimming Pool
After all that arid desert, the opportunity to take a dip in a swimming pool seems like it might be a mirage. Private swimming lessons for little ones are offered year round at the pool and older visitors can take part in Aqua Yoga classes in this serene setting.
3. Plunge into Medano Creek and Lake
A great day or overnight hike, the Medano Lake Trailhead is only accessible by ATV. The eight mile round trip transports you 2000 feet in elevation, culminating in dramatic panoramic views from the summit of Mount Herard. Look out over the entire dunefield and the sparkling Upper Sand Creek Lake. Medano Creek is seasonal and especially popular with children.
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