United States
Luis Maria Baca Number 4

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3 travelers at this place

  • Day78

    Great Sand Dunes

    May 18, 2017 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 6 °C

    Für den Nordosten Colorados wurde Schnee gemeldet. Ich mag Schnee.. allerdings sind 18 inches (46cm) dann doch etwas viel. Vor allem ohne Winterjacke und Schuhe und mit einem Auto bei dem ich mir nicht sicher bin, was für Reifen drauf sind 😣

    Also bin ich weiter nach Süden gefahren zum Great Sand Dunes National Park. Hier kann man sich die größten Sanddünen Nordamerikas angucken. Die Dünen liegen am Sangre de Cristo Mountain und sind von den Flüssen Medano und Sand Creek umschlossen.
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  • Jul14

    Lathrop SP D3 ... Great Sand Dunes NP&P

    July 14 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 75 °F

    Part II of today’s story finds us visiting a sandy playground.
    
The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve — the tallest dunes in North America — are only about 11% percent of a 330-sq mile deposit of sand. If not for the interaction of sand, water, and wind we would not have these dunes. At least that’s the gist of what I got from one of the info panels at the visitor center. The development of the dunes was summarized in three bullet points:

    * Erosion took place in the mountains [in this case, the Sangre de Cristos and the San Juans]

    * Streams brought sand to the valley to form deposits in the flood plain [dry this time of the year]

    * Surface winds were guided to Music, Medano, and Mosca Passes by a bend in the Sangre de Cristos, creating a pocket to deposit sand

    The main dune field is apparently not growing because it lacks new sand. Vegetation in the surrounding area has stabilized the sand sheet. That said, the dunes in the forefront, near Medano Creek, can grow because the creek brings sand to that area … sand that we had to walk across before we could reach the dunes.

    Great Sand Dunes boasts high elevations and cooler temps. It did not disappoint. When I checked the Weather Channel later, the high at GSD was 84F … 10 degrees cooler than it was at Lathrop SP… and probably even cooler since we were there early and left well before the day’s high was reached.

    So, that’s the general info … now for the story of our visit.

    Before entering the park — which is 19 miles from the US-160 turn-off — we pulled into a parking lot near the Great Sand Dunes Lodge for a distant photo of the dunes. Seeing a long line of people at one of the buildings, I asked a maintenance person if people were waiting to go inside for breakfast. She laughed and said that they were probably queuing up to rent sand boards and sleds. That did it. We quickly got back on the road and headed to the park entrance kiosk.

    Showing our America the Beautiful Lifetime Senior Pass — yes, it does pay to grow old 🤣 — we stopped at the gate just long enough to pick up a map and an informative news sheet. There was a crowd at the visitor center, so we skipped it going in. Not sure what all those people were doing there since the VC is not open at present due to COVID-19. Though I later found out that the gift shop is open ... sort of ... with a staffer standing in the door and shoppers telling her the number of the item they want to buy. Anyway, we continued on to the parking lot that is the main access point for the dunes.

    There were quite a few vehicles in the parking lot, but plenty of empty spaces at that early hour. That would change by the time we returned from our walk. We took a spot at the far edge of the lot, collected our hats and water, and headed off to explore the dunes. Everyone seemed to be making a beeline towards High Dune (699 feet tall), where there were already a number of people hiking up … looking like ants scurrying about on a hill.

    To avoid the crowd, we headed to the right where only a few people were already wandering around on the dunes. By the time we crossed the flood plain — dry during this season — those people were already well on their way up.

    Mui and I played around the empty dunes for a while, trying to slide — unsuccessfully — down one of the dunes to get back down. The good news? The sand doesn’t stick to you and a quick brush with our hands was all we needed to clean ourselves up. By this time, the sun had come out, but the temp still felt comfortable … if a bit humid.

    Making our way back to the parking lot, we discussed returning later in the season to camp at the only campground within the park in order to enjoy the dunes in the early morning and evening. So, next we headed to the only campground to check out the sites. Dry camping … but will do nicely for a short stay.

    By the time we left the campground, we were ready for lunch. We debated taking our portable picnic table out to the flood plain to have lunch in sight of the dunes. But the soft surface would just cause the table to sink, so we decided to try a spot at the head of the Medano Pass Primitive Road. Alas, the place stunk to high heaven due to piles of horse doo-doo left behind by an equestrian tour. With nowhere else that would have been suitable for an al fresco meal, we left the park.

    Mui had spotted a road sign for what he thought was the San Luis Lakes State Park, so we headed there for lunch. Turns out that it was actually a state wildlife area, though the only critters we saw were a few small birds ... at a distance. We did find, however, picnic shelters with views of the lake in the near distance and the Great Sand Dunes and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in the far distance. Perfect.

    Even though the water in the lake was obviously much lower than it should be, we enjoyed the view as we ate our simple meal. The only other people around were a group of three women and a young girl who went swimming in the lake … though they did have to walk a considerable distance from shore in the water before they reached a depth that allowed them to immerse themselves. A few other cars came in for a look-see but didn’t stick around, so we pretty much had the place to ourselves. Nice.

    After lunch … but that’s for part III of today’s story …
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Luis Maria Baca Number 4

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