Travel Journal (7/11/2020): Exploring Great Sand Dunes National Park

After a day of summiting high peaks in northern Colorado, we moved to the southern part of the state to explore another of Colorado’s breathtaking landscapes. Near the town of Alamosa, the Great Sand Dunes are the largest sand dunes in North America and the Great Sand Dunes National Park might be one of the Western United States best kept secrets.

The park isn’t extraordinarily big, but it is beautiful and adventure packed. In addition to exploring the beautiful dunes, another popular activity in the park is to sled or snowboard down the slopes. I didn’t bring a sled or board, but I did watch a number of groups having an absolute blast.

The Day’s Itinerary

If you are interested in taking a look at my detailed itinerary for the day, I have included a link to my itinerary for you to review below.

Great Sand Dunes National Park

I started the visit to Great Sand Dunes with grand aspirations of hiking to the top of the high dune, but after seeing how difficult the hike is in the sand, I decided to stop halfway up. The views were great from there and I didn’t have the 2.5 hours it likely would have taken to reach the top and get back down.

Zapata Falls

After visiting Great Sand Dunes, we stopped at Zapata Falls on our way out. What we thought would be an easy stop actually turned out to be quite the adventure. Just to get to the trailhead we had to drive up roughly 10 miles of really rough road.

Once at the trailhead, we had to hike a short distance to what we thought was the falls. However, the trail actually terminated at a small stream. Once there, we had to hike 100-200 yards in the stream to get to the waterfall. The falls themselves are within a small slot canyon, so the falls aren’t viewable unless you get into the water.

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  1. It’s good you stopped half-way up the dune. Now you have a good reason to return and climb all the way up!

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