Great Sand Dunes, Colorado – May 1999


Colorado is a state of incredible beauty. Nestled in the Rockies, there are mountains, streams, waterfalls, and not-so-dense alpine forests everywhere.

And the Great Sand Dunes. The Great Sand Dunes are hidden deep in the heart of the San Juan Mountains in southern Colorado, about 200 miles (320 km) from Denver.

When the Rio Grande changed course, the river bed was prime feed for the east-blowing wind that piled up the sand in stacks against the San Juan Mountains.

The highest point in the dunes is about 750 feet high, the largest in North America. The dunes themselves lie over an area of about 50 sq. miles (125 sq km). It is the strangest spectacle to see a waterless beach in the heart of a high desert.

The shifting sand, the mountains, and the underground stream that prevents the sand from getting blown away further, provide a surreal landscape for sandboarders, backpackers, and gaping tourists alike.

Sand DunesVisitors can camp either in the designated camping spots or deep in the dunes themselves. Camping in the dunes on a full moon night is a wonderful experience. Of course, every pore in your body will be clogged with the fine dust after you roll down one of those sand dunes.

Don’t forget to bring your camera because rumour has it that the sand dunes are very photogenic, especially to black and white pictures. Cooking in the sand dunes can be a lot of fun, especially if you don’t mind some sand with your omelettes. Make that a lot of sand withyour omelettes.

Sand DunesThere are some excellent backpacking trails around the sand dunes and numerous day hike trails from 2 miles to 9 miles. The crestone peaks just north of the sand dunes are great for camping.

In the summer, like any popular spot, thousands of visitors from all over the US dutifully converge at the dunes to scream, gape, and drink beer. For this reason, reservations at the campsite need to be made well in advance, especially for a weekend.

If you are a snowboarder….well then bring your board on, slap some Pledge on the underside and you are ready to surf down a steep cliff.

Sand DunesDon’t forget to check out the alligator and reptile farm next door to the dunes. There are about 40 extremely bored alligators, numerous snakes, and even an ostrich.

If you are lucky, you might be there for the birthday of the most capitalist alligator of all, SirChompsalot.

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A Little About Balaji

I am a student at the University of Colorado in Boulder and I am interested in pretty much anything to do with the outdoors; like rock climbing, hiking, backpacking, and travelling.

I live in Boulder which is the mecca for all the above-mentioned activities.

Come summer, Boulder crawls with tourists all wanting a piece of the beautiful mountains that stretch from my backyard to eternity.

In the future, I hope to provide more information about Colorado.

My other passion is beer brewing. We just brewed a Mead that turned out really great, though the rough edges will smoothen soon, and I am in the process of brewing a couple of beers now.

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