Part 4 and the last one of this series, is about scenes at an often overlooked national park, Great Sand Dunes National Park near Mosca, Colorado. The park rangers were friendly, and visitors of all ages, from babies to seniors, seemed to be having a good time hiking or sliding down the dunes. I took pictures from sunrise to sunset and could have taken a lot more. Some of the following photos have not been published before on this blog.
Pinyon Pines grow in the states of Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico. So it was no coincidence that during my recent road trip I took a good number of photos of these trees, sometimes without intending to do so.
The nuts from Pinyon Pines have been harvested by Native Americans for thousands of years up to the present day, and have been a providential part of their diet especially when game was scarce and other crops were not doing well. Pine nuts are a good source of protein, fat, and fiber, all essentials nutrients for humans.
Today I spent from sunrise to sunset revisiting Great Sand Dunes National Park and taking photos to record what I saw.
From the Great Sand Dunes Lodge where we stayed, I went out before sunrise and saw the dunes in semi darkness. They were stark, almost uninviting.
Soon enough the sun rose over the Sangre De Cristo mountains, setting clouds (it had rained the night before) on fire.
Finally sunlight fell on the dunes, a scene I won’t ever forget.
Later on I went on a short hike up to an overlook point on a nearby hill. Clouds filled most of the sky, but once in a while enough sunlight came through to illuminate parts of the dunes.
As noon approached, the dunes revealed more and more of their beauty.
Later in the afternoon, I went back and walked toward the dunes, following hikers of all ages.
There were hikers on their way up to High Dune (650 ft) or even Star Dune (750 ft).
Some even ran down the slopes leaving trails of dust behind them.
Great Sand Dunes National Park is a very family friendly park. I saw parents with kids hiking along the mountain trails around the dunes, or running up the dunes and sliding or simply rolling down the slopes. In the spring and early summer, snow melt produces enough water for Medano Creek which runs right next to the dunes. The creek, with about a foot of water, is then a great playground for youngsters.
Today we went from Cortez to Mosca, both cities in Colorado, to visit Great Sand Dunes National Park, our last stop before heading home. It rained almost all the way, the first rainy day on our road trip. Up high in the mountains I could see aspen trees, their fall foliage muted by rain clouds and fog. As we came near Mosca, the sky brightened a bit. I saw two big fields of canola with yellow flowers stretching to the horizon.
Looking back the way we came, the other field was more subdued against a backdrop of rain clouds.
We arrived at our hotel in the early afternoon and lost no time in going to the Great Sand Dunes. We got some maps, attended a ranger geology briefing, watched a movie, and still had time to take pictures of the dunes.