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Great Sand Dunes National Monument

© Justin Sutton - www.redmountainphotography.com Great Sand Dunes National Monument is in southern Colorado. These dunes are North America's tallest dunes and they rise over 700 feet high against the rugged Sangre de Cristo Mountains. There are 39 square miles of wind shaped dunes. The park is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The Visitor center is open daily and closes on winter holidays. To get to the dunes, you can fly into Colorado Springs, Denver or Albuquerque. All of those towns are within a four hours drive. If you're driving, the Sand Dunes are about 35 miles northeast of Alamosa, Colorado. Take US 160 east and then Colorado 150 north. If you're traveling on Colorado Highway 17, take County Six Mile Lane from the west.

© Justin Sutton - www.redmountainphotography.comDuring fall, winter, and spring, expect moderate daytime temperatures and freezing to sub-zero temperatures at night. Summer temperatures during the day average 70 to 80 degrees, lows may drop to 40 degrees. Sand temperatures can reach 140 degrees in summer; shoes are highly recommended for hiking the dunes. Also, storms can come up over the dunes and the wind can blow extremely hard so make sure to bring a windbreaker and sunglasses. Don't forget your sleds either!

© Justin Sutton - www.redmountainphotography.comThere is camping available in the park at Pinyon Flats campground which is open year-round, and has 88 campsites available on a first-come, first-served basis. Fire grates, picnic tables, flush toilets and drinking water available. The campground is located in pinon/juniper forest and has excellent views of the dunes and the Sangre de Christo mountains. Fire wood can be purchased in the visitor center, open daily 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. Make sure while you're at the dunes, you hike around for at least a few minutes. There are many nature trails to enjoy also and Medano Creek, which flows at the base of the dunes during spring and early summer is fun to play in. The dunes make for great pictures in the late afternoon. Kites are also one thing to consider bringing in case the wind picks up in the afternoon.