November 11, 2009

Great Sand Dunes

On the way back from my high adventure trip at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico I was fortunate enough to be able to visit Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in SC Colorado. The sand dunes for which the park was name really are great with some standing over 700 foot tall. They are the largest sand dunes in all of North America and are perhaps the most beautiful as well. I climbed up some of the dunes which cover approximately 30 sq miles of the San Luis Valley. The picture below (which has been altered to make the people stand out more) shows just how large the dunes are. Click on it to see the people on them.
The first glimpse I got of the Great Sand Dunes is in the photo below. Seen from 15 miles away they are barely visible and are dwarfed by the 14,000 ft peaks in the background. In this picture you can only see the dunes when it is blown up but for some reason you can't do that once you move a picture on blogger :(
I took the picture below at dusk from just outside the park at a restaurant. The dunes look very neat in this light; almost purple.
After dinner at the restaurant we parked the motor home at a campground just outside the park. I took the picture below the next morning. It is of the view from the our campsite!
As soon as the sun was up I was too. We drove down to the dunes where I spent some time hiking up them. The sand dunes are contained within the Great Sand Dunes Wilderness.
On the way in we saw a small herd of Elk feeding in the grasslands near the dunes.
It was very windy out and it was hard to walk in the sand even on the flats below the dunes not to mention hiking up a very steep hill of it. Somehow I managed to survive the climb up. My camera was having a hard time with the sand. The wind was blowing some grains around where the lens comes out making it almost impossible for it to open up for some time. I did manage to fix the camera which is working just fine today. The photo below is one of my favorite photos I took while I was up in the dunes. I love that you can see my footprints, that the clouds seem to be getting blown up over the dunes, and the fact that the lighting was great and the skies were dark blue. A lovely picture indeed!
The view from the top of the dunes was pretty neat. The photo below shows the visitor center, parking lot, etc. As you can tell it is a long ways down from the top.
The time came for me to leave the dunes. On my way down to the parking lot I found a Circus Beetle which is one of the eight endemic insect species that inhabit the dunes. Just several days after playing around at the dunes I got a grain of sand in my eye which I had to get removed for a whopping $250. That is a bit much for one piece of sand don't you think? Although we are not sure where the sand came from my mom and I like to think it was from the sand dunes.
The Great Sand Dunes are a very interesting place. to learn more about them go to:

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