When Kurt told me that we were going to stop at the Great Sand Dunes National Park, I really had no expectations. I knew nothing about it. After having spent a few hours there, I discovered many wonderful things.
Five great things that I now know about the Great Sand Dunes are:
- Great Sand Dunes has the tallest dunes in North America. In fact, Star Dune, the largest sand dune in the park, rises 755 feet from its base to its crest.
- The park hosts a great diversity of plants and animals, including insect species found nowhere else on earth!
- While the immediate surface of the dunes changes constantly, the main dunefield as a whole is fairly stable. Comparing recent photographs with photographs taken in the late 1800’s reveals that the major dunes have maintained their overall shape and position.
- Most definitely, the park provides tremendous scenic settings that, for many, provoke a sense of awe. These settings (including massive dunes surrounded by alpine peaks, a desert valley, creeks flowing on the surface of the sand, pristine mountains, and rural range land) offer spacious relief from urban America, exceptional solitude and quiet, and a remarkably unspoiled day and night sky.
- Finally, recreational activities abound here. Among them are hiking, swimming, sand boarding, sand sledding, or just sitting down to take in the view!
*Bonus* For folks like me wanting to escape the oppressive heat that plagues Arkansas, as well as most of the South, the Great Sand Dunes National Park is a possible option. With average summer temps no higher than eighty degrees and little or no humidity, it is an ideal place to get a bit of a reprieve! Park officials do caution, however, that the sand can get as hot as 150 degrees on summer afternoons, advising visitors to arrive early in the morning.
The sand was cool to the touch when we were there, and the weather was phenomenal. My only complaint would be that we didn’t stay there long enough. Oh well, we are planning a trip to Colorado this fall, and I’m sure that we will return to the Great Sand Dunes!