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When To Explore Great Sand Dunes National Park

The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in Colorado is accessible throughout the whole year and is home to some of the continent’s tallest sand dunes. When would you recommend going to the Great Sand Dunes to get the most out of your experience with these magnificent sand dunes? We have provided you with all the information you need to choose which season is your own preference.

The park is located just outside of Alamosa, Colorado, at a base elevation of about 7,500 feet. It is home to a diverse array of landscapes, including wetland and woodland areas, tundra and grassland areas, and alpine lakes.

There is something for everyone in the family to enjoy in Great Sands National Park, whether it be sledding down the dunes, playing in the river, climbing, backpacking, hiking to waterfalls, camping, or stargazing. The park is known for its vast expanses of sand dunes.

Where exactly may one find Great Sand Dunes National Park?

The Great Sand Dunes National Park may be found in southern Colorado, on the western flank of the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range.

It is around two and a half hours from both Colorado Springs, Colorado and Santa Fe, New Mexico. It is located approximately an hour northeast of the town of Alamosa, and it is also approximately an hour from the state’s border. You may reach the park’s entrance from Alamosa by traveling east on US 160 to CO 150, and then traveling north on CO 150.

When would you say is the perfect time to go to Great Sand Dunes National Park?

Spring and autumn are the seasons that provide the most pleasant weather for a trip to Great Sand Dunes National Park. You may escape the peak crowds and take advantage of milder temperatures if you visit between the months of May and the beginning of June, as well as September and October. During the warmer months, the sand may reach temperatures that are dangerously high. The streams run dry, leaving you with no relief from the scorching heat of the sun.

Great Sand Dunes National Park is accessible at all times of the year; however, the only time the campsite and visitor center are operational is from April through October. May through August is the busiest time of the year. From the end of May to the beginning of June, when the flow of Medano Creek is at its highest, the creek is a favorite destination for tourists and children.

Although it was still flowing, the stream had receded to a depth of barely a few inches in some areas. The journey to the Dunes Overlook on the trek is just around a mile long.

The Great Sand Dunes in the springtime

The springtime in Great Sand Dunes may be unpredictable when there is a strong wind. It is recommended that you visit the dunes first thing in the morning to escape the stronger gusts. The months of March and April are often the snowiest months of the year, with temperatures ranging from the forties to the fifties during the day and falling below freezing during the evenings. It snows on the dunes roughly once a week, but it only sticks around for a day or two before melting away.

To the east of the dunes, the stream is still frozen over for the most part, although the major roads are often cleared of snow rather fast.

It is best to visit the park between the beginning of February and the end of March to view the Sand Hill Cranes on their annual migration. Elk are most likely to be seen in the region during these colder winter months, so keep an eye out for them.

The Pion Flats Campground opens for the season sometime around the beginning of April and begins to become busy around the end of the month as the temperature continues to rise.

Spending the summer among the Great Sand Dunes

The water level in Medano Creek begins to drop by the end of June and remains at or below that level throughout the months of July and August. At this hour, the park is packed to its capacity with tourists. The weekends at this time of year are very busy and exceedingly packed, with lengthy lineups to enter the park, overflowing parking lots, and completely filled campers.

If you plan on going during the warm weather season, your best bet is to come on a weekday rather than a weekend and to get there as early as possible. This will help you avoid the crowds and lengthy queues It will also enable you to beat the heat, since July and August are the warmest months in the park, with daily temperatures ranging from the high seventies to the low eighties. If you arrive early, you will have the best chance of beating the heat.

Lightning, gusty winds, and torrential downpours are common features of the afternoon thunderstorms that occur in July and August. But along with the rain came wildflowers, and by the middle of August, the grasslands and hills surrounding the dunes were covered with prairie sunflowers.

This time of year at the Great Sand Dunes

Visit Great Sand Dunes National Park during the fall for an experience you won’t forget. The month of September is still rather warm, with temperatures ranging from the low seventies during the day to the mid-forties during the night. The sky are typically clear, and the wind is seldom more than a light breeze.

Explore Great Sand Dunes National Park - Travelrnews
Explore Great Sand Dunes National Park – Travelrnews

The aspens gradually change color over the month, and by the time October rolls around, they have reached their most brilliant golden hue. Around the middle of the autumn, the cottonwoods reach their height, and snow showers start to dust the mountains that are all around.

Remember that the autumn may be hunting season, and if you are going hiking up in the hills, be sure to wear bright colors. There is no hunting allowed in the sand dunes, but if you are going in the fall, keep in mind that it may be hunting season. However, the vast majority of hikers do not come across any evidence of hunting.

The Great Sand Dunes in the Wintertime

Snowfall occurs virtually every week throughout the winter season in Great Sands, and temperatures are often far below freezing during this period. On the other hand, the majority of the days are cloudless and quiet. People may often be seen sledding or cross-country skiing on the dunes throughout the winter months, particularly during the winter holidays.

Locations of Overnight Lodging Near the Great Sand Dunes National Park

There are several alternatives for both hotel and food in the town of Alamosa, which is located in Colorado and is just a half hour away from the entrance to the park.

Great Sand Dunes National Area does not have any lodges, however camping and backpacking are also options for visitors looking for a place to stay while exploring the park.

The campground near Pinon Flats

The Pion Flats Campground is accessible from the months of April all the way through October. The sites, which are required to be reserved via the park’s website and are located one mile north of the visitor center, cost $20 per night in 2022. It is possible to make reservations up to a year in advance for group sites and up to six months in advance for individual sites.

How Many Days Should You Plan to Spend at Great Sand Dunes National Park?

It is not necessary to spend more than two or three days in the park in order to experience the most of what it has to offer. A day spent sledding on the dunes, followed by one or two days of trekking and a visit to the Zapata Falls If you are going to be there after dark, you shouldn’t miss out on the free night programs that are given by the park rangers.

The conclusion is as follows.

Great Sand Dunes National Park is an incredible national park that provides a wide variety of exciting activities for people of all ages to enjoy together. We’ll go through the advantages and disadvantages of each season, as well as our pick for the best time of year to visit Great Sand Dunes National Park.

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