Colorado Great Sand Dunes National Park

Basic Info:


What? The tallest Sand Dunes located in North America.

Where? These dunes are located in San Luis Valley in southern Colorado.

How Much? $3 per adult (kids 16 and under are free)

Through Who? You can independently go in for the small National Parks entrance fee. If interested I do believe there is information regarding tours at the entrance to the park.


The Story:


To be completely honest, I was pretty oblivious to the fact that Colorado had gigantic sand dunes up until a few years ago. (Embarrassing considering I’m a Colorado native)

I mean the great plains and mountains are pretty obvious but these huge sand dunes were just never mentioned to me while I was growing up. Odd considering they are the tallest in North America

Colorado Sand Dunes

The extent of my familiarity with dunes were those within a couple of miles from my house where my friends and I would catch lizards growing up.

When I found out a few years ago that these great dunes existed, I made it a point to make sure I stopped by relatively soon.

A couple of years ago I took a weekend road trip and visited Bishop’s Castle, the Painted Desert/Petrified Forrest and the Grand Canyon. Initially the Great Sand Dunes were in the itinerary, but time constraints and other opportunities pushed my visit back.

This year I had plans to check the World’s Largest Hot Air Balloon Festival in New Mexico again. It just so happens that the Great Sand Dunes National Park is only slightly off track when driving from northern Colorado to Albuquerque.

I had to check it out. No excuses.

I started making rough plans for a time schedule of when to visit.

Anybody that is trying to get great pictures of outdoor places, sun up and sun down, many times, present the optimal lighting conditions for great shots. (Don’t consider myself a photographer but I would like to think I’m a whiz with a handheld;))

Taking this into consideration I knew that I wanted to be at the dunes right before sunrise.

Sand Dunes Early Morning

My friend Tim and I arrived and parked in the parking lot while it was still dark out. We were a bit early so we took a short nap before venturing out and up the dunes.

As soon as the light started breaking through, there we were, layered up (freezing temps) and rushing around taking pics, slowly progressing up the dunes.

It was only us and two other crazy photographers up this early trying to get some shots of the dunes. (you can see one of them following our path below)

Sand Dunes Photographer

There is only so much time to shoot with the sun showing off these colors. Literally minutes later the sun was up higher and those beautiful colors and shadows lessened.

Here is a picture from the top of one of the dunes maybe 10 minutes after the previous picture.

Acres and Acres

The color changes quite a bit, it’s pretty amazing. This one is from my point of view at the tallest peak overlooking the park.

So what do you think? Did you know the tallest Sand Dunes in North America were found in Colorado?

Grean Sand Dunes Wilderness

“where man himself is a visitor who does not remain”



  1. says

    Thank you! At first I didn’t want him to be in the picture, but after I snapped a few and saw him in there, I thought they came out perfect.

    Now I just need to invest into a nice DSLR!

  2. katie says

    I love these. The sand dunes have been on my list to visit for a few years now. They’re just far enough away that it’s not convenient, but close enough that I end up traveling further out. Some day I will get there, though! Thanks for sharing.

  3. says

    Salute! You are such a brilliant photographer – not that you need validation — but, indeed, what a talent!
    Sublime, magical and stunning – these photos, unforgettable, para siempre. I have always been deeply attracted to sand dunes – your photo-essay is inspirational. Thanks for sharing. hasta luego 1

    • says

      Thank you for the kind words! I would like to think that I slowly improve on my photography skills. I just need a better camera now :)

      I recently heard of some smaller sand dunes in New Mexico that all pure white. I’m hoping to make my way their sometime and get picture of those. Something about how they move and reshape…

      “Where man himself is a visitor who does not remain”

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