The Great Sand Dunes - A Surreal Landscape
|The Great Sand Dunes|
Earlier this summer, curiosity propelled us to go investigate The Great Sand Dunes National Park. On the way there, I was struck by the desolation of the high desert region known as the San Luis Valley. The dunes first appear as a small, pink band sprawling out humbly beneath the jagged, blue peaks of the impressive Crestone Needles. Not until you arrive at Medano Creek do the tallest sand dunes in North America begin to flex their muscle. It's a surreal landscape and the sheer scale of the dunes is breathtaking.
It took more than 400,000 years for nature to sculpt this masterpiece. Water, wind and sand are the ingredients of a process that continues to this day. Sand from the river flood plain are picked up by strong, westerly winds. The tiny particles are deposited in a pile against the foothills. Zebulon Pike is credited with the first written account of the dunes. In 1807 he wrote, "Their appearance was exactly that of the sea in a storm, except as to color, not the least sign of vegetation existing thereon."
It's remarkable inside the dunes. With no designated trails, you are encouraged to explore freely. The endless waves of sand are steep and hot. It's also very quiet but the solitude is a peaceful escape from the chaos of day-to-day life in the city. A unique feature of the park is Medano Creek, a flood plain that forms the eastern boundary of the sand dunes. The wide, shallow creek is a great place to cool off and splash around. I would definitely recommend making the drive across Southern Colorado to experience one of the Rocky Mountain's most fascinating environments.
|The San Luis Valley|
|The impressive Crestone Needles|
|Set against blue peaks, the dunes appear pink.|
|It's remarkable inside the dunes|
|The dunes are hot and steep|
|The solitude is a peaceful escape|
|Medano Creek is a great place to cool off|
|A San Luis Valley, blood-red sunset|