Colorado Beaches? With Real Waves?

GREAT SAND DUNES NATIONAL PARK, COLORADO

A sandbox of epic proportions, the entire dune field encompasses 30 square miles and the tallest dune towers 750 feet high. The kid in every visitor loves to sled down the sandyear-round and plunge into the soft-sand tracks of those who climbed ahead of them.

THIS IS A GREAT PLACE TO GET AWAY FROM EVERYONE AND STILL LIVE A LITTLE

An inexpensive way to be greatly impressed!

 

The park’s elevation (8,200 feet) and rural location make it a favorite with dark-sky-loving stargazers, and it even offers special astronomy programs many evenings May–September.

 

The Junior Ranger program has different activities for kids ages 3–12, and they earn a badge once they’ve completed the educational and fun tasks.

Aside from the dunes, you’ll find picnicking, hiking and camping opportunities, the challenging four-wheel scenic drive on Medano Pass,

horseback-riding trails, the mysteriously appearing and disappearing Medano Creek, ranger-led nature walks and a couple of 14,000- and 13,000-foot peaks to climb (Crestone Needle, Crestone Peak, Cleveland Peak and Mount Herard).

Great for families on a budget that want priceless views and natural phenomenons!

CAMPING IN GREAT SAND DUNES NATIONAL PARK

There are a few options for camping in the area. The Piñon Flats Campground is run by the National Park Service, with 44 sites that are first-come, first-served and 44 that visitors can reserve in advance.

For those traveling in 4WD vehicles, there are 21 campsites along Medano Pass Roadwithin the park that are free and available on a first-come, first-served basic.

For those willing to haul their gear and everything else needed in backpacks, free backcountry permits (required) are available at the park’s visitor center. You can pitch your tent anywhere in the 30-square-foot dunefield that lies outside the day-use area. You’ll have a minimum hike of 1.5 miles over the dunes, but will experience a unique overnight setting.

Backpacking (with a permit) is also available amid the foothills and mountains along the Sand Ramp Trail within the park, where the dunes give way to the mountains.

There are also several private and public campgrounds within an hour’s drive of the park, including those at San Luis Wildlife Area, with facilities that range from primitive to luxurious (for camping!).

MAGIC MOMENT

Choose your own calf-burning path up the dunes, particularly at dusk when the light gives them a rich gold color and shadows snake across their wind-sculpted ridges. Dig your toes into the sand or feel it run through your fingers, and you’ll realize their true enormity.

EXTEND YOUR TRIP

Zapata Falls

 

San Luis Wildlife Area

Close to Great Sand Dunes National Park, this peaceful park has 51 campsites with showers, electricity and laundry. Enjoy fishing, watersports, trails and wildlife viewing. Check with Park or Website for current conditions.

San Luis Valley National Wildlife Refuges (Alamosa and Monte Vista)

Alamosa, Monte Vista, and Baca Refuges form the San Luis Valley National Wildlife Refuge Complex. This Complex is a part of the Refuge System, a network of lands that conserve wildlife and habitat.

Fort Garland Museum

Fort Garland was built in 1858, ten years after the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, during American expansion into the west. Today, visitors can explore life in a nineteenth century military fort by walking the parade grounds and touring five of the original adobe buildings. Learn about the Buffalo Soldiers of the 9th Cavalry who were stationed at the Fort from 1876 to 1879. Discover Colorado’s role in the Civil War in the West exhibit. Rich in military history, Fort Garland highlights the women and children who brought a bit of home to the fort. From the Fort, plan a visit to Pike’s Stockade, where Zebulon Pike and his men camped in the early 1800s.

Colorado Gators Farm

Colorado Gators began in 1977 as a fish farm to raise tilapia for human consumption. The geothermal well is 2050 feet deep and 87 degrees. In 1987, the first alligators were brought in as “garbage disposals” for dead fish. Some of these original gators are now 11 feet long and weigh over 500 pounds. There are many species of exotic reptiles on our farm, most of which come from uninformed pet owners, or are sent by police and animal control agencies. We take care of these animals as best we can and display them for education of the public.

Restaurants

PLACES TO STAY 

 

TOWNS NEAR GREAT SAND DUNES NATIONAL PARK

 

Alamosa  Colorado    

Blanca  Colorado.

Fort Garland. Colorado.  

Monte Vista  Colorado.  

Mosca  Colorado.  

Westcliffe  Colorado.  

 

HOME AND CONDO RENTALS IN THE AREA   

 

THINGS TO DO AT GREAT DUNES NATIONAL PARK, COLORADO

The  Medina River It Vanishes from time to time…

 

Coloradans don’t have to travel far to get to a beach with waves, according to National Parks officials.

Medano Creek is now approaching peak flow! This is the best time of year to experience ‘surge flow’, a globally rare natural phenomenon where creek water flows in waves across the sand.


For surge flow to occur, three elements are necessary: a sufficiently steep channel, a sandy creek bottom, and plenty of flowing water. This combination only exists in a few places on Earth, and Medano Creek is considered the best place in the world to experience surge flow!

Due to unusually cold, wet conditions in May, peak flow is occurring a little later than average this year.

Every year, melting snowpack creates a so-called surge flow in the Medano Creek in the Great Sand Dunes National Park. The surge can send waves up to three feet tall lapping onto the dune field, according to park official Eric Valencia.

What’s called “Colorado’s Natural Beach” draws tens of thousands of visitors during peak season. 

“The stream surge is actually quite a unique phenomenon,” Valencia said. “As the water flows through the sand, the sand begins to kind of tumble down and eventually it will create a small dam. The pressure of the water will break that dam of sand and it forms a wave.”

The underwater ridges break around every 20 seconds to create a wave.

The dunes are located in the Southern Colorado Rocky Mountains. The water from upstream spreads out at the foot of the dunes into wide, shallow water.

Medano Creek has exhibited some surge flow despite cold temperatures and slow snow melt this spring, according to the park. 

 

The pressure of the water flow is measured in cubic feet per second. As of May 31, the flow is only 22 cfs. The park calls this small surge flow. The flow typically peaks in late May or early June with around 40 cfs. 

Snowpack in Medano Pass is currently over 160 percent of normal. Because of that above-average snowpack, peak flow for Medano Creek is forecast to be sometime in the first half of June rather than the typical late May. The park also expects some shallow flow through July.

Peak flow weekends tend to bring the highest number of visitors each year to the park. Valencia said visitors play in the water, skimboard, raft and make sand castles.

Directions to Trailheads

Montville/Mosca Pass Trailhead: Drive 1/8 mile north of visitor center.

Point of No Return: 1 mile (1.6km) on Medano Pass Primitive Road, beyond Piñon Flats Campground. This parking area provides access to national park backcountry sites along the Sand Ramp Trail.

Sand Ramp Trail Access: 5 miles (8km) on Medano Pass Primitive Road, beyond Pinon Flats Camp- ground. This small parking area is accessible by high- clearance 4WD vehicles only, providing access to national park backcountry sites along the Sand Ramp Trail.

Medano Lake Trailhead: Follow sign after driving 10.5 miles (17km) along Medano Pass Primitive Road, beyond Piñon Flats Campground. This trailhead is accessible by high-clearance 4WD vehicles only, providing access to Medano Lake.

Music Pass Trailhead: This trailhead is accessible
via Pass Creek Road, CR 572, located 2 miles (3km) west of La Veta Pass on US 160. The turnof is 39 miles from the visitor center or 28 miles west of I-25. Drive 11 miles on CR 572 (unpaved) until the road turns into CR 570 (unpaved). Take a right on CR 550 (paved) and drive 5 miles (8km) to CO 69 (paved). Turn left and drive another 28 miles (45 km) until you see the “Music Pass” sign. Continue to follow the signs on several gravel or dirt roads. 2WD or AWD vehicles should park and hike from the USFS Grape Creek Campground. 4WD vehicles can continue for an ad- ditional 2.5 miles (4km) to the trailhead.

TOWNS NEAR GREAT SAND DUNES NATIONAL PARK

PLACES TO STAY

Alamosa  Colorado    

Blanca  Colorado.

Fort Garland. Colorado.  

Monte Vista  Colorado.  

Mosca  Colorado.  

Westcliffe  Colorado.  

 

HOME AND CONDO RENTALS IN THE AREA   

 

THINGS TO DO AT GREAT DUNES NATIONAL PARK, COLORADO

SO UNIQUE AND SO MUCH FUN!

 

HAVE A BLAST, CHRIS

 

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