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5 Photos from a Weekend Exploring Great Sand Dunes NP

I spent a weekend exploring one of the most unique national parks in the country...and I only scratched the surface.

By: Calvin Weibel + Save to a List

Great Sand Dunes National Park is home to perhaps some of the most unique landscapes in the United States. Featuring the biggest dunes in North America, GSDNP is located in southern Colorado at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo mountains. I had the opportunity to visit for a weekend and practice landscape photography while exploring the dunes, and they did not disappoint.

On the first morning of our visit we hiked up the dunes at sunrise to take some photos. This image was shot about a half hour later as we stood near High Dune and enjoyed the view. The dunes are at their most dramatic at sunrise and sunset when the sunlight is coming from the sides.

When we hiked back into the dunes a bit further we found quite a few backpackers spending the night on the sand. I can't think of a better place for a campsite.

This photo was taken on our second evening in the park. We hiked into the dunes for about an hour, this time approaching from the east side. We spent a few hours wandering around, taking photos, and taking in the view. The way the light hits the sand just before sunset is unreal.

I took this photo from a ridge near High Dune looking down at the dunes below. Getting to a high point in the dunes is really helpful for photography because it allows you to see much further - and then you realize the true scale of the sand dunes.

If I had one tip for newcomers exploring the sand dunes it would be this: take the time to really hike in for an hour our two. A lot of visitors only climb the first few dunes, or don't climb any at all. But the further you hike, the better the views are, and the more you realize just how big these dunes actually are.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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