Located about 250 miles south of Denver, Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve protects the tallest dunes in North America. The park is located at the north end of Highway 150.
Great Sand Dunes National Park contains ecosystems ranging from wetlands to forest to tundra, as well as the spectacular dunes that give the park its name. Scientists believe ash and sediment from volcanic eruptions settled in the San Luis Valley and the uplift of the nearby Sangre de The sand dunes provide a unique opportunity for sand sledding and sandboarding, which are permitted anywhere on the dune field away from vegetated areas.
The dunes also offer nighttime adventure where stargazing is perfected by dry air, little light pollution and high elevation. There are no designated trails in the sand, and visitors are encouraged to explore the 30-square-mile dune field as they wish. Plan to hike the dunes in the early morning before afternoon sun heats the sand surface to a blazing 150 degrees and afternoon thunderstorms bring dangerous lightning. Instead, spend summer afternoons hiking one of the park’s shady forested trails, such as the Montville Nature Trail, which offers outstanding views of Mt. Herard, the dunes and the valley from the trail’s highest point.
Piñon Flats is a National Park Service campground located one mile north of the park’s visitor center. The campground is open April through October. Campsites can be reserved in advanced. Un-reserved campsites are available on a first-come-first served basis. The campground features restrooms with sinks, flush toilets, a dishwashing sink and water spigots. Each site has a fire grate and picnic table. Some sites have large cottonwood or conifer trees for shade, while most others have smaller pinon trees that provide some shade.
A few sites have driveways that can fit RVs up to 25 feet, although no hookups are available. In addition, roadside camping is permitted at 21 numbered campsites along the Medano Pass Primitive Road. The sites are indicated with a brown post and camping symbol. Mountain bikes with extra wide tires for sand called fat bikes are permitted on the Medano Pass Primitive Road, both for day use and for overnight camping in Medano Canyon. Overnight backpacking is also allowed in the park’s hiking areas. Permits are required.
The most popular and unique backpacking option, camping is permitted anywhere in the 30-square-mile dune field outside of the day use area. Enjoy wide open views of the starry sky or a bright moonlit night. Plan to camp in the dunes only when weather is calm and clear to avoid blowing sand or dangerous thunderstorms with lightning. Several other campgrounds are available near the park. Oasis Campground, just outside the park’s entrance, includes 90 sites and accommodates RVs, tents and cabins. Zapata Falls Campground, a primitive campground on Bureau of Land Management property located 11 miles south of the park, provides spectacular views of the entire dune field and valley.
• Individual campsites have a maximum capacity of eight people, two tents and two vehicles.
• Deer and other animals often visit the campground. Please do not feed wildlife, including birds.
• Do not collect firewood in the park or bring firewood from outside the San Luis Valley. Buy local firewood at or near your destination campground.
• Pets are welcome in the campground. Please keep them leashed and under control at all times.
• Prevent encounters with bears by storing all food and scented items in the bearproof lockers provided at each site.
• Drinks, snacks, supplies and firewood are available in Pinon Flats Campground at the Mosca Pass Outpost Store and at the Oasis Store.
• Medano Creek is a popular seasonal stream that forms in May and June from melting snow in nearby mountains and provides an opportunity for tubing, wakeboarding and other beach-like activities.
Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve
11999 State Highway 150, Mosca, 81146