- Website link: Great Sand Dunes National Park.
- Cost: $20.00 per car.
- Accommodations: Lodges and camping located just outside the park. Campground located in the park is open from April through October. Backcountry camping permitted on the dunes, in the mountains, or in Great Sand Dunes National Preserve. See website for details.
- The Oasis Restaurant and Store is located at the park’s main entrance, and is the only restaurant near the park.
- Many hotels and restaurants in Alamosa, Colorado, 40 minutes southwest of the park.
- Hiking, backpacking, sand sledding, and playing in the water (if Medano Creek is running) are all popular activities at Great Sand Dunes.
- When to go: April through October. May is typically when Medano Creek is flowing at it’s peak due to snowmelt in the mountains.
Great Sand Dunes National Park is approximately:
170 miles from Colorado Springs, Colorado — 240 miles from Denver, Colorado
Our trip is going to start in Colorado Springs because it is the closest major airport city to the park. So, pack a bathing suit, some road food, a full water bottle (or two), and some hiking shoes, and let’s hit the road!
*Recommended hotels in Colorado Springs: Holiday Inn Express and Hampton Inn.
Travel tip: Colorado Springs is a great vacation destination itself. There are many attractions in Colorado Springs including: Pikes Peak, Garden of the Gods and The United States Air Force Academy. There is also a zoo, Seven Falls, and Cave of the Winds, among other attractions.
⇒From Colorado Springs, take I-25 south to Walsenburg via Pueblo, Colorado. At Walsenburg, take Highway 160 west to Highway 150 north to Great Sand Dunes National Park. Drive time between Colorado Springs, Colorado and Great Sand Dunes National Park: 2.75 hours.
⇒Side trip: Royal Gorge. From Pueblo, Colorado, take Highway 50 west to Cañon City and the Royal Gorge. Walk across the the Royal Gorge Bridge, a suspension bridge that sits 955 above the Arkansas River! Gondola rides, zip line, kiddie rides. There’s something for the whole family. Drive time between Colorado Springs, Colorado and Cañon City, Colorado: 1 hour.
Great Sand Dunes National Park lies in the shadow of the Sangre de Cristo mountains in South Central Colorado. The dunes are the highest in North America, with the highest dune, Star Dune, topping 755 feet. The dunefield covers about 30 square miles.
The dunes appear to take on different shapes and shadows, depending on the time of day and angle of the sun.
Late summer at the park. Medano Creek is almost dry at this point, but even the smallest amounts of water cool the sand. In the summer, the sand on the dunes can reach temperatures up to 150 degrees!
This guy did a little skimboarding on Medano Creek, while a lot of other people took off for the dunes.
This is a great park for RV or tent camping at the park’s Piñon Flats campground, and tent camping on the dunes is very popular. We would recommend going later in the fall or earlier in the spring when the weather is not so hot and the crowds are thinner.
Thank you so much for traveling along with us! Leave us a comment about your trip to Great Sand Dunes, or tell us about your favorite national park. We would love to hear from you! Stop by our site often for more great trips and tips, or better yet, become a follower so you never miss a post. Until the next trip…
Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!
Mike and Kellye
As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.