We Have Sand in the San Luis Valley, a LOT of Sand

I live near a LOT of sand and I don’t mean a sand lot, though it’s that, too. Great Sand Dunes National Park is really and truly sandy — and also very beautiful in a totally accessible way. It’s true that there isn’t a whole lot to DO there much of the year, and the mosquitoes are beyond counting in summer, there are hiking trails into the Sangre de Cristo Mountains where there are waterfalls and even a pass that settlers used in the olden days to cross the mountains, but the preeminent feature is sand and sandboards — similar to snowboards — have been invented to ride down the dunes when the climate is amenable. Looks like fun, but… There is also a very beautiful visitors’ center.

In spring when the snow melts in the Sangres and water comes charging down Medano Creek, it even turns into a beach. Sometimes, though, it can be a little cold, but if we have a good winter, the beach endures into June or even July!

Life’s a Beach

You can learn a LOT more about the Great Sand Dunes here

The coolest (literally) sand that’s not wet is at White Sands National Park in New Mexico. I was there as a little kid — 4 and 5 years old. It was wonderful, a magical land. The sand never gets hot because it’s white — gypsum — and it reflects the heat — unlike the sand at Great Sand Dunes which, in summer, is too hot to play on.

My brother and I at White Sands, 1957. The green car is ours, I think.

I’m fascinated by White Sands because of the fossilized footprints they’ve found of a little girl carrying her brother? Sister? You can read about them here.

13 thoughts on “We Have Sand in the San Luis Valley, a LOT of Sand

  1. Lovely sands! I grew up near the clean sands of the Great Lakes but always wished for more stones as they had further north or seashells like the oceans. As a kid, I didn’t realize how lucky I was to have the lakes and any clean sand at all. NOW I can see that, of course, living away from the Great Lakes.

    • Right there on the creek that goes through and past the sand dunes. 🙂 People bring umbrellas, chairs, boogie boards, lunch and it looks like a California beach except for that it’s not and there are mountains. It’s pretty cool

  2. Having grown up in sandy Southern California, I always thought that sand was by the ocean, or maybe by lakes as well. I had no concept that there might be sand dunes in places like Maine, or Death Valley, or Colorado, or other land-locked places! All of these beaches look great!

    • It’s strange but true that there were once inland seas here and in New Mexico. The Sand Dunes here are from wind and frost/ice erosion on the mountains, sand from that blown across the valley and trapped by a pretty unique line up of mountains in the Sangres. Like in CA, the wind really blows here. We’re looking at 45 mph next week, but that’s a breeze compared to some of the 75 mph blasts that used to hit the mountains in CA. That happens here, too, but it was different when that wind came blasting down my street in Descanso.

  3. I live not far from the Indiana Dunes National Park – and lived even closer when we lived in Michigan City… I’ve visited your dunes and they are lovely. They reminded me of home.

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