What to Do in Great Sand Dunes National Park

Located over 3 hours outside of the Denver metro area, Great Sand Dunes National Park is an amazing outdoor recreation site that is unlike anything you'd expect to see in Colorado. The national park features sand dunes that are over 750 feet tall, a campground, a great 4 wheel drive road and access to 13,000 foot peaks.

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Last weekend I load up my family and headed for Great Sand Dunes National Park for some car camping. We enjoyed two full days of playing in Medano Creek, sliding on the dunes and hiking from one high point to another. In the evening we settled into our campsite for a campfire and some dutch oven deserts.

Sand Dunes

This was my 7th time to the sand dunes and the 4th time in 6 years that we've car camped with friends in this area. The Great Sand Dunes National Park has everything you want for a successful family car camping trip. Being located in the San Luis Valley, it is away from the large crowds of Colorado's Front Range. The kids have a ton of fun playing in the sand and in the water. The creek is extremely safe for children to play in because unlike most Colorado streams, the water passes over sand and is not rocky.

If You Visit Great Sand Dunes National Park

As I described, I've visited this area a lot of times. Here are my suggestions to get the most out of your trip to Great Sand Dunes National Park:

  • Go in the spring and early summer for the best chance of having water in Medano Creek. The ideal time is May or early June.

  • If you want to stay in the national park campground, reserve your spot early.

  • I actually prefer to stay at the Oasis Campground because there's a little more privacy and there's also a store in case you forgot anything.

  • Visit the dunes in the early morning or in the evening to avoid the extremely hot mid-day sand.

  • Bring a sled or large piece of cardboard to slide down the dunes.

  • If you bring a dog, protect their feet from the hot sand or keep them off the dunes.

Great Sand Sunes

Other things to do when near the Sand Dunes

  • Hike to Zapata Falls

  • Visit the Colorado Gator Farm

  • Visit the hot springs near the town of Hooper

  • Climb Crestone Peak or Blanca Peak, both nearby 14ers

  • Visit San Luis Lakes State Park

These are just a few ideas to help you get the most fun out of your trip to Great Sand Dunes National Park. Have you visited this area? When were you last there?
Andy Hawbaker
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Andy Hawbaker
Andy is a hiker, backpacker, snowboarder and outdoor fanatic. When he isn't exploring the Rocky Mountains, burning marshmallows or scratching his dog behind the ear, he shares his experiences here on the Sierra Trading Post Blog.
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