Stand On The Tallest Dunes In North America At This Uniquely Thrilling National Park

Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado is a unique destination that looks like it's straight out of a sci-fi movie. The otherworldly, dramatic dunes are incredibly tall and constantly changing due to the strong daily winds that blow through the area from the San Luis Valley. The tallest dune in the park reaches an impressive 750 feet, making it the tallest dune in North America. What appears to be foothills before the snowcapped mountains are actually enormous dunes — it is a jaw-dropping experience when you first see them on your way to the park. This is a once-in-a-lifetime vacation destination in the United States, and it should not be missed.


This vast sandbox, located in the southern region of Colorado, is where you can unleash your inner child and have infinite fun exploring the dunes. The park is accessible with its special dune-rover wheelchairs and has plenty of activities to keep even the smallest children happy. Whether sandboarding, photography, or gazing at the infinity of the night sky is your thing, you will leave the park wishing you could stay longer. The stunning views of the snowcapped Sangre de Cristo Mountains in the background add to the beauty of the place and remind us of the importance of preserving such pristine natural habitats. 

The dunes hold a type of magic that speaks to the soul

Great Sand Dunes National Park boasts an impressive dune field that is a result of 440,000 years of water, sediment, and wind. Every year, when the snow melts high up in the mountains, the streams come together, recreating Medano Creek once again. Annually, these mountain-fed streams deposit sand in the 30-square-mile dune field, which was how it was initially formed, leaving a whimsical playground vacation for all ages to enjoy


The dunes may shift with the winds, but their height remains constant. At 750 feet, the Star Dune is the tallest, followed closely by the High Dune at 699 feet tall. Both dunes are impressive in their stature and prove to be more calf muscle work than a full week's worth of "leg days." Throughout the day, minuscule avalanches may occur within the dunes caused by people walking on the sand's surface, though they can also occur during storms. These avalanches force air out from between grains of sand, creating a faint whispering sound. This phenomenon is known as "sand singing" and is truly amazing. You can hear it during moments of quiet on the magnificent dune field. It is just one of the small joys that can be overlooked if you're not paying close attention. 


Endless activities for the family await at Great Sand Dunes National Park

Half a million people visit the dunes every year, according to the National Park Service — not only for the interesting formation history, but for the memories that can be made on each trip. Young children adore the giant sandbox with its shallow creek and can play for hours. Older children and adults test their skills as sandboarders or sledders. While boards are not available for rent at the park, there are a handful of nearby rental stores, like Great Dunes Oasis, which is 4 miles away from the Visitor Center. If you visit in late May or early June, you can witness a surge wave coming down Medano Creek, which is fun for people of all ages. The creek is only 4 inches deep at most, but children can have a great time floating down on tubes or other small inflatables.


Some visitors prefer to enjoy the ambiance and beauty of the park with meditation, yoga, and photography. Those with a more adventurous streak can choose to hike or backpack through the park and surrounding area, stopping to set up their campsite for the night. A stargazer's dream, the park is certified as an International Dark Sky Park, which provides opportunities to witness the beauty of the night sky that you'll never find near a city. On a moonless, clear night in spring, you may be able to view the Milky Way and more from the comfort of warm sand. This small but thrilling park truly offers something for everyone.