An Adventure to Great Sand Dunes National Park

By: Tom Malone - Summer 2019

Denver, Colorado - I left the house at 3:30 a.m. to beat rush hour traffic on my journey to Great Sand Dunes National Park. After driving through sunrise in nearly complete isolation, I saw the desolate waves arise before me. The nearly 1,000-foot-tall desert features rose up in the middle of a bowl of jagged Rocky Mountain peaks, begging to be climbed, explored, and admired.

I laced up my hiking boots, which seemed odd considering I was about to trek through a stream and mounds of sand, but I followed some sage advice. The hot sand would have blistered my feet. I charged up the first dune, ready for the incredible view of the mountains; the view wasn't there. Instead, I saw a valley of sand, followed by more immense sand peaks to be climbed before reaching the apex of the dunes.

My lungs burned from the climb. Even though the hike shouldn't be that intense based on milage and elevation, the soft sand buckling beneath each stpe left me exhausted. I was forced to stop frequently, which gave me time to admire the views, both far away and close up.

Finally, I reached the top of the tallest dune in the park and was mystified. Vast expanses of sand dunes spread out before me, followed by gorgeous, ominous mountain landscape. The view was worth every mile in the car, and every difficult step throught he sand.

Check out the photos below to follow my adventure through one of the most alien landscapes I've ever encountered.