What a fantastic park in the Southeast part of Colorado! We arrived on Tuesday and stayed through Sunday. Being late October at an elevation over 8,000 feet we had 20 degree nights and 60 degree days. We stayed at Pinon Campground inside the park which has only a few spots big enough for a rig our size. We got one!
We were able to hike to the summit of the dunes (about 750 feet) and were still dwarfed by the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. On another day we drove off into the back country which took us up into the mountains. What an amazing drive over slippery sand dunes, through many stream crossings and the forest. It took about three hours up and over and we decided to end the trip back out to the highway. We did experience one night of insane winds but for the most part our time in the park was sunny and full of play time. Well, after Andrew worked all day we played!
Next time we are through the area we’d like to spend some time at the State park and see the wetlands that are the final piece of the puzzle that make this mountains, sand dunes, wetlands area so unique. The snow gathers in the mountains and when it melts in the spring and summer the streams carry sand back down to the base of the dunes. Here the wind whips and drives the sand back up to sculpt the dunes. The streams continue out to the lower lying areas and the wetlands are created. Pretty awesome!
Another little hike we took was outside the park to Zapata Falls. We wandered and tiptoed over stones in the stream and through a cave to see it. So worth getting wet by the cold water. We stood under the mist for a while…