We made it to the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve just a little after 1pm, a warm box from Pizza Hut resting on the bfs lap and my eyes fixed on the horizon. It was that kind of overcast afternoon where you can’t help wondering when those distant rain clouds are gonna overtake the sky and ruin your plans. It was a mildly chilly day, the sun dipping in and out of sight and we were shivering a little as we sat ourselves in the picnic area near the dunes to eat our lunch and plan out our afternoon.
Just driving up into the park had been an experience in and of itself, the whole area it’s own corner of nowhere in Colorado. It’s the kind of place you have to really aim to go to, you can’t just find yourself there accidentally, and I think thats part of the charm. The crowds were minimal and they completely disappeared once we headed out on the unpaved road towards the Point of No Return (seriously, what have I said about national parks and their inclination towards dramatic names).
We had a good few hours to kill before the sun set and we wanted to wait a little before tackling the dunes themselves, so after eating lunch and getting caffeinated again, we decided to take the small hike up to the Dunes Overlook. It’s a fairly easy hike, just 2.3 miles (3.7 km) roundtrip and i’d definetly recommend it not only for the excellent view from up above the dunes but also for the beautiful views and scenery on the way up. Once you make it up to the overlook, you can either sit on one of the many convenient benches like the bf did to catch your breath, or you can be like me and run around all over exploring the many view points. We somehow lucked out and managed to get the overlook all to ourselves and I can honestly say it was with great reluctance that I eventually let myself be led back down.
Once we made it back to the car, I crossed the road to go check out the area just on the other side, where the Sand Pit is. The bf stayed in the car to clean his shoes out (lots o’ sand, obviously) while I trudged my way slowly over the small ridge, my camera slung heavy over my shoulder. The thing I most vividly remember, apart from the incredible view of the mountains with the sand dunes just off to the left, was the calm quiet. The wind whipped around me constantly, but never harshly, and the coolness of it was welcome on my warm face. I could feel the gritty sand in my boots as I stood there looking out at the landscape while surrounded by beautiful and unexpected vegetation and it felt more like a gift than anything else, a vivid constant reminder of where I was.
Eventually I replaced the lens cover on my camera and walked back to car, intent on making it out onto the dunes themselves.