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20090224 Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
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Miles Barger
(milesbarger) - F - M

Locale: West Virginia
20090224 Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve on 02/28/2009 14:59:00 MST Print View

Text, pictures, video.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: 20090224 Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve on 02/28/2009 15:07:25 MST Print View

lol on the B.F. look Miles.

Michael Davis
(mad777) - F

Locale: South Florida
Re: 20090224 Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve on 02/28/2009 18:26:11 MST Print View

That's one of the places on my "list" to hike some day. I've always been intrigued by the seemingly out-of-place existence of Great Sand Dunes. I have seen it from the air and it looks surreal.

Miles Barger
(milesbarger) - F - M

Locale: West Virginia
Hike idea on 02/28/2009 18:38:05 MST Print View

An idea for a hike (view the park map):

Sand Ramp Trail
to Upper Sand Creek Lake (add on a climb of the peaks if you'd like)
to Medano Lake (off trail)
to Little Medano Creek where it meets the Dunefield
to Star Dune
to car

Could make for a great week! This is what I would have done if I had more than a weekend that included an eight-hour drive.

Carlos Figueroa
(cfigueroa) - F

Locale: Santa Cruz Area
Re: Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve on 03/11/2009 04:19:21 MDT Print View

Your trip reports are awesome and I start thinking out of the box about my next trip. Can you list distance, gear and any further details about your trip? It seems that there is only one trail along the edge of the Park - is that true? Also, I have never seen on a map where the wind direction is indicated. Can you comment on this.

Edited by cfigueroa on 03/11/2009 04:27:58 MDT.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve on 03/11/2009 08:21:20 MDT Print View

Carlos -
I'll chime in here ... Yes there is only one trail on the east edge of the dunes. In the dunes proper there are infinite routes, and no trails. Going up into the Sangres from the immediate dune area there are the two shown on the map referenced above by Miles. BTW, the wind direction is also shown on the map, but the majority of the time it comes from the west/southwest.

Within the park but south of the dunes is another trail going up to Mosca Pass. If you are adventuresome and a good route finder you can force a ridge route north to Medano Pass road, and then back to the dunes.

Miles Barger
(milesbarger) - F - M

Locale: West Virginia
Distance + Gear on 03/11/2009 22:09:10 MDT Print View

Carlos,
Greg's info on routes and wind is spot on.

Distance: ~3 miles the first day, ~7(?) the second. My route the second day was all off trail across the dunes, so I'm really not sure how far it was. Those dunes are tough hiking, so it may have felt farther than it was.

Gear: Oh man... I've tried to keep myself clearer of gear junky-ism than in the past, so I don't have a detailed spreadsheet. BUT my main items were

  • Pack: MLD Zip (1st gen)
  • Shelter: GG The One (1st gen)
  • Bag: WM Summerlite + BMW Cocoon Pullover and Pants
  • Pad: BMW Torsolite + GG NiteLite
  • Cooking: Homemade Heine keg + alcohol stove system
  • Clothes:
    • BPL Merino Hoody
    • RailRiders Weatherpants
    • Patagonia Houdini
    • Mont-Bell Thermarest Vest
    • Patagonia hat + OR gloves
    • Montane Featherlite pants
  • Misc: Firestarter, hydration bladder, headlamp, etc.

Not sure exactly what it all weighs together (gasp! I have a system that's light and works well for me, so I don't overtly think about weight anymore) but a base around 7 pounds for temps down to 10F, possible light snow, and high winds.

You can download a park map online that lays everything out. By combining the trails with off-trail travel (the best kind) through the dunes and the alpine wilderness area, you could plan a helluva trip.

Edited by milesbarger on 04/22/2009 22:26:47 MDT.

Carlos Figueroa
(cfigueroa) - F

Locale: Santa Cruz Area
Re: Great Sand Dunes on 03/12/2009 03:39:21 MDT Print View

Thanks Greg and Miles,
for the past several years I have taken the “safe routes” on well-worn trails (follow the yellow-brick road), which in some sense takes the adventure out. In my past I was a big wall climber in Yosemite for two decades – I want more and Miles your past two reports re-sparked my “being out there streak.” It’s almost a contradiction to have the Great Sand Dunes and the alpine wilderness next to each other – I find the contrast exciting. I have already set plans to do the Colorado Trail this summer (at a crazy pace of 2 weeks). Because of this trip report, I hope to start planning a trip there for next year that combines both areas.

In areas of alpine I have vast experiences and therefore, I know what to bring as gear; but I have never hiked on dunes and really have no idea what to expect. Your short gear list gave lots of information – it’s a standard list. Thanks for the information.