Featured Image

A Beach for Giants: What’s Special About Great Sand Dunes National Park, and Why Dogs Love It

Great Sand Dunes National Park is known for its towering hills of sand. Some dunes stand hundreds of feet in the air, like a beach for giants (with no ocean). Despite being close to the Denver area, Great Sand Dunes gets just a fraction of the visitors that Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park sees yearly.

However, Great Sand Dunes has much to offer. It’s an amazing place to get outdoors, and it’s not just people who love it; dogs love it too.

Here are some things to know about Great Sand Dunes National Park that may help you plan your visit.

1. Great Sand Dunes National Park Is Dog-Friendly

Many national parks are not dog-friendly, but that’s not necessarily true at Great Sand Dunes. While large parts of the park are off limits to your four-legged friend, there are still plenty of spots where you can bring a dog. These areas include the main use part of Piñon Flats Campground, Dunes Overlook Trail, Mosca Pass Trail, and the Medano Pass Primitive Trail. Dogs need to stay on the trail and be leashed at all times.

dog at great sand dune national park
(Source: NPS)

The park sits next to Great Sand Dunes National Preserve, which is sort of a continuation of the national park. Dogs are permitted everywhere in the national preserve. Just be sure to clean up after your pet.

2. The Dunes Really Are Great (and Massive)

It’s hard to visualize how large the dunes are until you’re there in person. Star and Hidden Dunes are the largest dunes, which both reach 741 feet. Visitors won’t find specific trails in the dune area, but don’t let that stop you from summiting these sandy beasts. At the top, you can find great views.

Bring a saucer or a sled to ride back down the giant dunes. Similar to White Sands National Park, you don’t need snow to enjoy a fun day sledding the dunes. For those more adventurous, you can even try sandboarding. 

sledding at great sand dunes
(Source: Lisha Riabinina)

3. There’s More Than Just Piles of Sand

If your concern is that you’ll be bored after checking out the dunes, there’s plenty more to do in the park. Backcountry hiking and camping are great ways to explore the surrounding area, where you’ll find forested trails. You can also climb Mount Herard, which stands at more than 13,000 feet in elevation. The summit includes excellent views of the dune field. In the warmer months, the park is a popular destination for Medano Creek. People can swim and wade in the water to cool off from the summer heat.

4. Go on a 4×4 Drive Adventure

Great Sand Dunes National Park includes many miles of off-road trails for Jeeps and other 4×4 vehicles. Fortunately, there are a lot of nearby guides and rental companies to help get you into the backcountry, if you don’t want to do it alone or don’t have the equipment. Hiring a guide will allow you to see the sights and escape the crowds with a professional who knows his or her way around the park.

towns near Great Sand Dunes
(Source: Visit Alamosa)

5. You Can Visit the Nearby Town of Alamosa, Colorado

The gateway town of Alamosa has plenty to explore after a long day of climbing sand hills. From ice-cream spots to local restaurants and breweries, Alamosa is a great place to kick back and relax. There are also shops, art galleries, and a nearby roadside attraction of an alien watchtower for fun star gazing (and maybe even spotting a UFO).

Featured Image

Unlikely Thieves Are Stealing Shoes at a Michigan Campground

Featured Image

12-Year-Old Angler Makes Catch of a Lifetime in Arizona

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top