Saturday, October 1, 2011

Great Sand Dunes National Park (Mosca, Co)

We arrived at Great sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, just east of Alamosa, CO, on Friday afternoon. We’re located only a mile or two from the front gate of the park. The campground (Great Sand Dunes Oasis) has full hookups but is little more then a gravel yard.  The place needs a little polish but the location and views far outweigh any cosmetic shortcomings.

The Campground

Our Site
Our View!!

After setting up camp we headed for the park.

Imagine this, the main attraction is the dunes. There are mountains and trails all around the dunes, but folks are here to see and play on the dunes. That’s one of the great things about this park facility. To a very large degree there are no areas off limits. On the dunes you walk where you want. So after enjoying a 20 minute movie we made our way to the dunes. Now you’re going to see lost of photos. But ladies and gentlemen, I assure you none of them will fairly represent the enormity of the dunes or the effort required to hike to the top. First the facts. The dunes are the highest in North America. The park covers 85,000 square acres. The hike to High Dune is 3 miles round trip and 650 feet of elevation gain.

But the hike is TOUGH!! You’re slipping or sinking in sand CONSTANTLY!! Not long after we got started I expected Debbie to bail out. Repeatedly I thought she’d turn back. But nooooo. The gnarly exercise queen stuck with it. ”Summiting” was quite an accomplishment and as often is the case, the effort was well worth the reward!! The unique character of the dunes themselves coupled with the terrific views make this a very special event. TOO COOL!!!



Saturday we moseyed to Alamosa. Our plan was to visit a couple wildlife preserves. Our first stop was the Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge.

The truth is that we walked a trail two miles out and two miles back and it was the least impressive wildlife refuge I’ve visited. It was more like a wasteland with a trickle of the Rio Grande for company.

Actually,  Debbie didn't totally agree with my assessment of the area.  She did point out that at least we got to see the distant mountains as we walked.

We did hustle through four miles so the exercise was productive. Did we see any wildlife you ask?  A few small birds flew by and we almost stepped on this snake.

Next we made our way across town to the Alamosa Ranch and Open Space Wildlife Viewing Area. Such a long name! This was far better then the first stop but still not great. We did another four miles that included circling a public golf course, some natural areas and finally an impressive collection of fresh water ponds. These were the temporary home of LOTS of Canada Geese,

a few other species we didn’t recognize, and at least one American Bittern. Now the Bittern is only special to us because we’ve viewed him as a migratory bird in Florida and there they are rarely seen.

So the highlight of the day was yet to come. As a reward for our eight miles we stopped for pizza. We ordered a 16 inch meat sorta lovers pizza. We ate the whole thing with a 65/35 split. That still qualifies for “splitting”....doesn’t it?!!

Today (Sunday) we head for Abiquiu, NM.  We're staying at what appears to be a fairly remote Corp of Engineers campground.  Don't know what the phone and Internet options will be there, so if you don't hear anything from us for a few days, that's probably why.  On Oct. 5 we plan to arrive at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta.  We've had that event on the agenda for a long time, so we're really excited.



  1. You two make us so ashamed!! All that exercise!!

    Charley's exercise consists of taking care of me and walking the dogs and mine is almost nonexistent!!

    But it looks like you are having so much fun!!

    Safe travels!!

  2. Hi, nice to meet the folds that took care of the fine folks I sent them. see you guys are from Prison Management.
    We would send you the best ones we could find.

    Enjoy following your blog.

  3. Geez, the two of you make me tired just reading about all of your hiking. You folks are really looking trim and fit!