Back in 2003 when Kevin and I went on our Grand Canyon adventure
, DesertDave told us about Great Sand Dunes National Park. Alas, we didn't have time to check it out. Since moving to New Mexico in 2010, I've passed the park a few times while driving to and from Omaha, and in August of 2011 I finally had a chance to visit. The rest of the family was out of town at a wedding, so I packed up the car and made an overnight trip to the park.
Great Sand Dunes National Park
Los Alamos » NM68 » NM570 » US64 » Taos Gorge Bridge » US285 » Alamosa » US160 » CO150 » Great Sand Dunes
- Day 1 - Having packed the car on Thursday night, I was ready to leave immediately on Friday morning. There are a few ways to get from Los Alamos to the park, and I decided to take a creative one: through Pilar, NM and past the Taos Gorge Bridge. This also took me past the Cumbres & Toltec water tower in Antonito, so I had to stop for a quick photo shoot.
Eventually I made it to the park itself, where I set up camp and then went for a walk on the dunes. It turns out they are huge. HUGE! I spent a few hours out on the dunefield, slowly working my way up to the top of the nearst dunes. From there they stretched on into the distance, eventually thinning out and turning back into valley floor.
After exploring the dunes, I went back to camp, cooked my dinner, and then went out to explore some other sights. One of these was the ruins of Wellington Cabin, about which I have managed to find only a few fleeting details. It looked like it was a fine cabin in its day though.
- Day 2 - On Saturday morning I got up, cooked some breakfast, packed up my camping gear, and headed off for some more adventures. I started with another quick trip to the dunefield to see how it looked in the morning light, and then I started on my main goal for the day: hiking toward South Zapata Lake.
I ended up only making it about a third of the way to the lake before I decided the weather didn't look good up there. Along the way I stopped to see Zapata Falls and an old log cabin, as well as countless long views. Sometime I'll have to try taking the steep trail up to the lake again, but not until the weather is nicer and I've strengthened my steep-trail muscles some more.
After that, it was time to head home again. I took a more direct route home, getting me back with plenty of time to lounge about for the rest of the day.