Western destinations that offer a chance to do some good old fashioned goofing off are just as popular as places that offer an intense active venue. Doing something like playing in the sand or slowly floating down a river can be quite appealing after slaving on a job all year long. The simple entertaining activities have a way of voiding thoughts of accomplishing any tasks, which in turn allows the time to regain oneself after being fatigued over a long period of time. Goofing off is actually a good thing and just the thought of the sound of gentle waves splashing on a beach while playing in the sand is as relaxing as it gets. When sand dunes are mentioned, mindless fun activities definitely are the first come to mind. Sand dunes are a natural playground and when they are located next to a beach the great escape from the daily grind gets even better!
It may be difficult for some to believe, but there actually is a place in Colorado that is nowhere near an ocean, yet there are towering big sand dunes next to a beach. The Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve is one of those unimaginable places that simply does not look like it belongs in a Rocky Mountain Range setting. All this National Park needs is a few palm trees and a chickee bar to make it look like a tropical island resort, but the snow capped mountain peaks in the background definitely are a dead give away!
The Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve is located in the vast San Luis Valley near the eastern front range of the Colorado Rocky Mountains. When traveling on U.S. Highway 160 in southern Colorado, the road to look for is State Road 150, which heads 20 miles due north into the National Park. There are several small towns nearby that are good basecamp choices and some have historic points of interest. The only problem with the basecamp towns is the commuting distance to the park, which can add up to some serious mileage. For this reason, the best accommodation option is camping near the National Park in the San Louis Valley or making a reservation for a campsite inside the park. Making campsite reservations is best for the busy spring and early summer seasons, but when July rolls around, the extreme heat of summer does open up more breathing room.
The Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve has two different outdoor entertainment venue themes. The Great Sand Dunes are managed like a big recreation area where visitors can have fun in the sun. The other section of this park goes deep into the mountains and it is a wilderness preserve that offers a good nature viewing experience. In other words, one part of this park is like going to the beach and the other is like hiking a peaceful mountain nature trail. As can be imagined, this is quite an odd combination of venues to be found in one place, especially way up in the Rockies!
The Medano Creek flows through the edge of the Great Sand Dunes and this creek looks more like a wide shallow river when the mountain snow melt season is going on. As rushes of melting snow flow into the tributaries upstream in the mountains, it causes water volume to vary, which creates gentle waves that flow over the sand, just like on a placid beach in the Gulf Of Mexico. The sight of the ripples and very shallow waves spreading over the flat sandy creek bed truly are mesmerizing to see and hours alone can be spent just watching the gentle creek water flow.
The Great Sand Dunes is peaceful place, but it is also a fun recreation area. Sand-boarding is the sport of choice on these towering 700 foot tall dunes. Hiking the dunes will lead to spectacular views and splashing in the shallow water is a great way to cool off on a hot day. No matter whether you visit for some fun in the sun or you intend to explore the mountain wilderness, the Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve is a great choice for a summer destination. Besides, there simply is no better place to build a sand castle way up in the Rocky Mountains!
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