Great Sand Dunes Getaway


This post is about a quick trip to the Great Sand Dunes National Park, at the end of May. The park is about a 4.5 hours east of us and even though it was cloudy and raining off and on, I enjoyed seeing some new scenery. We got to the park late and scoped it out. It was busy and the campground was full (another sign of Colorado’s booming tourism). We discovered that to walk on the dunes you need to wade through an inlet and then follow the paths of other climbers. It seemed like it would be quite far to reach areas that had no tracks. For those reasons we decided to admire the dunes from afar. A nearby lake provided a view of some mountains and the dunes below a hazy, but colorful sunset sky. In the morning it was clearer, for a little while, before the smoky haze settled back in. The wet sand drying in the morning sun added a little texture to the close-up shots and it was fun to see people, like little ants, through my long lens. During the day, time was spent exploring and taking in the surrounding green scenery. I had been wanting to visit the Great Sand Dunes since moving to Colorado, and now I can say I have!

The Great Sand Dunes National Park is bathed in warm sunset light as viewed from across a distant San Luis Lake.

‘Dunes Across Water’ © Denise Bush

The Great Sand Dunes National Park make an unusual foreground to Colorado's Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

‘Sand Dunes & Mountains’ © Denise Bush

The sand dunes start to dry out in the morning sun after yesterday's rain.D Bush_Making Tracks Climbers.jpgD Bush_Making Tracks Climbers.jpg

‘Sand Dune Curves’ © Denise Bush

Some people hiking below look tiny, giving scale to the dunes.

‘Making Tracks’ © Denise Bush

Some people hiking below look tiny, giving scale to the dunes.

‘Making Tracks Detail’ © Denise Bush
(Can you see them now?)

Soft light illuminates the dunes at The Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado.

‘Morning Dunes’ © Denise Bush

A close look at the dunes at The Great Sand Dunes National Park reduces the scene to curves, shapes and shadows,

‘Morning Dunes Close-up’ © Denise Bush

The Great Sand Dunes National Park are visible across San Luis Lake and below the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of Colorado.

‘San Luis Sunset’ © Denise Bush

45 Responses to “Great Sand Dunes Getaway”

  1. You got yourself some good landscapes and abstractions there, and by keeping your distance you didn’t have to deal with the throngs of tourists. You closed with a pretty pastel-cloud sunset. All in all, a successful first visit to Great Sand Dunes. Let’s hope you’ll get back there outside the tourist season so you can explore the dunes from closer up.

    • Thanks Steve … a short, hazy trip but nice to get away. I’m not sure the best time to go back and explore closer … not when it’s windy or so busy with tourists.

      • Our one visit there was on June 8 four years ago, and even that early in the summer tourist season the place was crowded. As you mentioned, all the foot traffic made it hard to find pristine dunes.

  2. 4 detectioninspectionsllc

    Nature’s calligraphy ! You captured it well.

  3. Love the windswept curves and details, Denise. Some of nature’s finest architecture!

  4. Wow, I love the texture and the shapes of sand dunes in these pictures!

  5. What a beautiful set of photos! I love them all!

  6. 13 Anita Gooden

    They all belong in an art gallery. You are amazing. xoxo

    • Thanks for your supportive friendship! I think I would have liked it better if it wasn’t so hazy. Now I know what it is like there. XOXO

  7. Love the subtle colors and inviting swoops of Sand Dune Curves!

  8. Beautiful images. I love the texture.

  9. I never knew there were sand dunes like this in Colorado. They make for some great landscape shots. Really like the effects of the dark shadows.

    • Yeah … it’s a National Park near Alamosa. Wish it wasn’t so hazy when we were there but that’s how it is here … we never know when smoke might blow in. It has been very smoky here the last few days from fires in other western states. Thanks for visiting … always appreciate your comments! XOXO

  10. 22 fiddledee2

    Excellent work as always, Denise.

  11. The artistic waves and lines in the dunes are amazing! Lovely captures, Denise!!

  12. You certainly made the best of your time there, Denise. Those dunes are gorgeous and the sidelighting you caught really accentuates their undulations and textures. You captured a fine sunset as well. Wonderful landscapes. Yet another reason to visit Colorado.

  13. 29 Virginia RIce

    Well worth the wait Denise, beautiful images!


    Beautiful display Denise!

  15. Ever since I learned there were sand dunes in CO. they’ve been on my bucket list too. The contrast between the dunes and mountain peaks is wonderful.

    Your images are lovely! I like the one with the people walking across the top of the dunes. I think it’s the light and leading lines that are drawing me into that one. 😀 My imagination makes my brain think they look like astronauts exploring a new planet.

    • Thanks Deborah! I am not sure the best time to go. There is one hotel near the entrance and they close late fall. We stayed in Alamosa where there’s plenty of hotels but it would be nice to stay closer. ‘Making Tracks Detail’ is just an enlarged portion of ‘Making Tracks’!

      • I’ll have to check the map and see how close they are to where we’ll be this October. We’re booked and coming to CO!

      • Cool … where?

      • Littleton area. I have an itenerary that I found online and nothing is more than a two hour drive from our base there. I looked up the dunes it’s nearly a 4 hour drive. I don’t think He-Man would be up for that. Too much driving for him.

  16. Hi, Denise. I’m glad that you made the trip to see the dunes. I’ve been there a number of times, first visiting in the early 1990s. To avoid the crowds, I suggest visiting in the winter or early spring. It gets very cold there in the winter and the campground is not open, so you would need to stay either in Alamosa or camp outside the park. There is free camping on BLM land nearby and there is a decommissioned state park not too far away that still has electric power. A permit is required to stay at that old park (I had to purchase a Colorado fishing license to stay there), but the rules have recently changed, making it more convenient to stay.

    I spent several days there in late March this year. It was cold at night and early mornings (as low as 19 degF) before the sun came up, but much more comfortable in the evenings. The dunes can be different in the winter with frozen sand features, sometimes snow and sometimes sleet or ice. The air tends to be clearer in the winter, too. It is also a little easier to walk on frozen sand.

    I’ve posted a few of my images to my Flickr page with more to come and there will be at least one blog of my visit posted some time in the future.

    It is always a pleasure to see your posts and photos.

  17. Beautiful series!

  18. Absolutely gorgeous impressions, Denise! Well done to capture this beauties without the crowds.

  19. Sorry I had missed this post. In all the years we lived in Colorado…never did visit the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Talked about it off and on, but never got to it! Having said that, your captures make me feel like I have been there. Brilliant….stunning captures!! Love them. Your talent to capture beauty is on display as always!! Stunning!!

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