Several TripsI have made the visit to the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve a total of three times. Each time the visit has been a stop in a long road trip from Yellowstone National Park to Atlanta, Georgia, or the other way around. Everytime I have climbed to the top of High Dune from the visitor's center.
My first visit to the park was with my dad as we were coming home from Yellowstone in July, 2003. The most memorable moment from this trip to the dunes was after we had ran down the side of the steep High Dune, and burnt our feet as the hot sand seeped into our socks and shoes.
My second trip to the dunes was with three friends from high school that had just worked the summer season at Lake Lodge in Yellowstone National Park with me. We stopped to hike the dunes in mid August, 2004 during our roadtrip home.
My most recent visit in late May, 2005 was also my most memorable and rewarding. I was with my three best friends, one from high school, one from college, and the other I've known my entire life. We were all on our way to Yellowstone to work the summer season at Lake Lodge. Just after we started hiking and crossed Medano Creek, most people started hiking off the dunes because of the storm that seemed to be approaching the area. That didn't faze us. By the time we finally reached the top of High Dune, we were practically the only idiots on the dunes. But, our time at the top lasted all but about 3 minutes due to the storm that had centered right over us. The wind and sand flying everywhere sent us down in a blind hurry, but not before I got the guys to turn around for one picture at the top during the sand storm.
It wasn't another three minutes after we reached the bottom of the dunes and the skies cleared and the wind stopped the sand from flying everywhere. Although we were disappointed we didn't hold out at the top for just a few minutes longer and wait for the storm to quickly pass, we were rewarded with a complete double rainbows over the dunes looking towards the visitor's center. That made for some interesting pictures, especailly still being the only ones on the dunes.
I will more than likely stop again at the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve on my return home from Yellowstone this coming summer, 2006. This time I'd like to check out the other trails leading around the backside of the dunes.