Where To Ride The Sand Dunes
While riding down a mountain of snow is great, it can get a little chilly. For those that are looking for warmer fun, and to enjoy an experience that not a lot of people partake in, sand dunes can be just what they are after. The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserves in Southern Colorado provides a massive place for visitors to ride the dunes.
The entire park takes up around 150,000 acres. However, this entire area isnt made up of sand. The main dunefield is around 30 square miles. The widest point is six miles and the longest length is around 8 miles. It is North Americas tallest dunes at 755 feet high (from the base to the crest). This means that you will have plenty of space to ride the dunes. For those that want to ride down from the first ridge its about a mile climb that follows a zigzag pattern. In addition to the main dunefield there are smaller dunes to ride.
How To Ride The Dunes
You can ride the dunes by sand boarding or sledding. When you are finished you can also take a dip in the Medano Creek in order to get any of the sand off. The creek flows from April, when the snow starts to melt, through the late part of June or even July if its been a very snowy winter. If riding down the dunes just isn't your thing then you can always hike up to the top just to see the view. The highest point, Tijeras peak, is 13,604 feet above sea level. The Visitor Center alone has an elevation of 8,170 feet.
About The Dunes
No one knows how old the dunes are. Its suspected that they are thousands of years old. While the main dunefield does tend to be stable, the immediate surface of the dunes do change over time. What this means is that if you go to the dunes one year and visit it them again several years later, they can look relatively different than what you remember.
Precautions To Take
During the summer months, the dunes can reach more than 150 degrees Fahrenheit in the afternoon. This is why its a good idea to visit them in the morning or evenings during these months. Its also necessary to wear proper footwear such as sneakers or boots. During thunderstorms its best to leave the dunes altogether. Often times lightening does strike them which can make for a very dangerous situation. Despite the risks, the dunes are relatively safe as there isnt any quicksand or poisonous creatures roaming about.