Great Sand Dunes National Park | Camping & Hiking

7.05.2021 Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, 11999 CO-150, Mosca, CO 81146, USA

The landscape of the Great Sand Dunes is diverse. It's almost like a painting. We used to draw such sorts as children, with all elements of nature engraved. During the spring months of late May and June, there are snow-capped mountains, dunes, and a brook. On our visit in Oct, the stream had dried up.  It also boasts a varied terrain, including wetlands, woods, and tundra. Where do you think we should go hiking? We inquired of the ranger. "Do you prefer the dunes or the mountains?" she said. 

It can fascinate us by altering the colors of amber at sunset and waking us up to elks in the morning by the shrubs. While we climbed, we never stopped huffing and puffing, but the vista was worth it. I told myself that this hike would take all day. Could we go to the other side if we had more time? 

Do you believe we'll be able to get this far? We had no idea that even sand has a mood as we went towards the first ridge of tall dunes to see the entire dune field. It can both call us to withdraw and tempt us to sled down.

                                                       Great Sand Dunes Visitor Center

      Sledding must be super fun way to get down on the incline sand slopes and many people get them!

                      That's where the stream flows during spring - it's at the start of the hike.

Or maybe if we started early, we could have saved us the storm; we were already getting sandblasted by the afternoon storms by the time we reached the first ridge. Some eye gear would have helped. 

                                             Some night photography with my phone

Great Sand Dunes is one of the best locations in the United States to enjoy the night sky. To experience it fully, one must view it on a moonless night by following the moon calendar online. The dune field has the most open area of the sky, and one can park at the Dunes parking area and take a short stroll into the dunes for excellent viewing. Although we got lazier, we preferred watching it straight from our campsite as we just had half a day. 

Stay @ Pinot Flats Campground

The dunes were visible from our campground at the Pinon Flats. We had made a reservation through the website in advance, and we had a great time there. The bright skies with dazzling stars were the most incredible part. 

Camping cost: $20.  

We got our logwood from the campground canteen and attempted to start a fire with the help of a few papers we had. The wind was strong at night, and it took us some time to get there. 

The canteen stocks the necessities, and the campground has restrooms.

           Do not forget to get the Jolly Ranger pop from the canteen, its really nice!

For dinner, we had carried the extra lobster bisque and Beignet Bites from Pagosa Springs. If the wind wasn't heavy, we could have cooked something. 

As I stretched my arms to get out of bed in the morning, an elk herd passed by. Even though many forums mention mosquito bites, we did not experience any during our October visit. The winds were strong at night, and it was cold.

I also tried out night photography on my phone camera for the first time and got some decent shots. If you're interested in attempting it, here's what the settings were.

  • I used Samsung Note 10. It doesn't have an incredible camera but did a decent job.
  • Place it on a steady surface.
  • Go to more > pro, then change the settings to f/1.5, the 30s, and ISO at 500.
  • Please put it on a timer and capture it.
Other Important Information

  • From Dunes Parking to High Dune on First Ridge is a hike of 2.5 miles roundtrip and there are no trails. 
  • We don't get sand-boards inside the park. They can be obtained at Oasis store outside the park.
  • The Medano Creek is seasonal and easily accessible from Dunes parking. Peak flow occurs late May to early June
  • From Pinot Flats Campground, to Dunes Overlook is a hike of 2.3 miles roundtrip.
  • From Montville/Mosca Pass Trailhead are three hikes - Montville Nature Trail (0.5 miles), Mosca Pass Trail(7 miles), Wellington Ditch Trail(1 mile).
  • One can drive 4WD vehicle along the Medano Pass Primitive road to Sand Pit or Castle Creek Picnic areas.
  • If you have time, one can hike star dune(5 Hour roundtrip) - the tallest dune in America.
  • Enjoy Zapata Falls(20 feet high wall cascade waterfall) by taking a hike from the Zapata Falls recreational area that is located nearby from the Great Sand Dunes National Park. 
For more information, check out the park's newsletter at Visitor Guide


  1. I think it is very hottest place to travel. We can't see the big trees around this desert this is big challenging place to travel and stay.

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  3. Amazing camping tips with beautiful photos! Thanks for sharing.

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  5. What a workout! This looks like an amazing trip. I love to look and marvel at God's creation. Thank you for sharing!

  6. looks like an amazing trip. thanks for sharing it.

  7. Its look like a nice plan idea to make a trip on that place. What a wonderful trip and camp that you have experience. Thanks sharing to us. I have planning to go there.

  8. Great Blog post. Really exciting. Keep up the good work.

  9. Very good information and beautiful place.


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