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Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in southern Colorado was the last national park that we visited last year on October 5th and 6th. For me it was also the best spot of the entire trip.

The dunes come from sand at the bottom of a lake that evaporated some 440,000 years ago. Over time the winds picked up the sand and drove it toward the Sangre de Cristo mountains, where counter winds blew it back. The shifting winds created the dunes, moving them back and forth day in and day out against the mountainous backdrop.

Great Sand Dunes at sunset.

Great Sand Dunes at sunset.

Great Sand Dunes at sunrise.

Great Sand Dunes at sunrise.

Today the Great Sand Dunes is a great playground for everyone. Young families let their children play on the sand by Medano creek, a shallow stream that flows at the lowest point on a side of the dunes. People of all ages camp in the well-maintained park’s campgrounds, and hike on the dunes or on the wilderness trails that take them into or around the mountains. The only minor disadvantage, but one that could be considered a plus, is that there is only a bare minimum of businesses and services to cater to park visitors. There is only one nearby restaurant and one lodge, while the nearest town, Mosca, is 23 miles (37 km) away. So if you want to leave all that urban and commercial stuff behind, go to the Great Sand Dunes to see and enjoy nature at its best.

Contemplation at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.

Young woman in a contemplative pose at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.

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