Hike High Dune at Great Sand Dunes National Park

Details

Distance

2.5 miles

Elevation Gain

700 ft

Route Type

Out-and-Back

Added by Justin Ritucci

Explore Colorado's most unique landscape and photograph North America's tallest sand dunes. Slide down the massive dunes on a sand board or sled and then cool off in the Medano Creek, right at the base of the dunes.

The Great Sand Dunes are one the most unique landscapes in Colorado. These massive dunes are the tallest sand dunes in North America. Hiking these dunes can be very difficult, but well worth the amazing views of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range. If you plan on visiting in the summer, be sure to wear closed footwear. The sand can get up to 140 °F in the summer months.

Be sure to bring a sled or rent a sand board at the Oasis shop right before the park entrance. The dunes can be very fun to sled down. It slides best when it is a little bit wet right after it rains. After hiking the dunes be sure to cool down in the Medano Creek, right at the base of the dunes.

Park at the lot just beyond the visitor center and you'll be able to see High Dune. It looks like the tallest dune, although it actually is not. There's no "trail" but you can easily wind and zig sag your way across the ridges to reach it. Cross the creek from the parking lot and find your way there. 

Read More

Known for

Chillin
Photography
Hiking
Bathrooms
Easy Parking
River
Scenic

Nearby

Reviews

Leave a Review

One of the coolest places in Colorado

These dunes are amazing for all age groups. Hiking to high dune is worth the climb up. I suggest going at or near sunset the different colors make the sand look beautiful.

One of my fav places in CO!

I love the Great Sands Dunes because it's so unlike any other place in Colorado. I've been a few times and I always get excited driving up to the park entrance and seeing the dunes start to peek over the horizon and come into view. It's not easy hiking up to High Dune, but it's so worth it to see the entire dune field tucked up against the Sangre de Cristo mountains. Plus when you're done with that you can reward yourself by hanging out at Medano Creek. Bring a camp chair, a few beers, and cool off your hot and sweaty feet in the creek. There are a lot of great things to do in this area of Southern Colorado.

Colorado's Most Unique Landscape

In my opinion, this is Colorado's most unique landscape. Hiking North America's tallest dunes was cool. We ran/rolled down the dunes. Go in the early morning to beat the heat and crowds.

Beautiful

A pretty incredible place, with the dunes juxtaposed against the beautiful Sangre de Cristo mountains. Wander around, and be sure to get up high enough to see the full dune field to the north and west!

Awesome Day Trip!

Brings lots of of water and food if you plan on hiking to the top of the dunes!

Alien Landscape

Great Sand Dunes is amazing. It feels so out of place if you're used to the open plains and towering mountains of Colorado, but have spent your summers wandering the dunes at Outer Banks - sand dunes belong at the ocean, not next to snow capped mountains, right? Make sure you take time to go to the Visitor's Center and learn about how these marvels were formed. It gives you a much grander appreciation for what you're climbing on. Also - sand is HARD to walk in. Prepare to struggle uphill and leave with boots filled with sand. It's been mentioned, but MAKE SURE you have coverage if it's going to be windy. We passed a man who grunted "it feels like I'm being attacked with millions of needles" as he struggled along in shorts. It's beautiful, especially so in the winter, and it is a must-see if you're in Colorado.

Very Cool

Hard to hike in the sand but the sense of accomplishment when you get to the top is great! Would recommend going here!

Incredible

We drove here in the dark, and got such an amazing surprise waking up to the sun rising over the sand dunes. Had so much fun wandering around in the sand and the views are amazing. Definitely worth adding to a road trip!

If it's going to be windy make sure to wear pants or leggings. The blowing sand is painful on bare skin.

So Much More Beyond

Seconding comment about not realizing the immense beauty until you're at the base looking up. But definitely work your way up-- two steps up one slide down at a time. The views from the top peak over the dune valley are amazing. The juxtaposing sand dunes against snow capped mountains are breath taking. Soft sand. Warm rays. And a cool creek to splash in after summit. Bring a beer to crack at the top and double check for sand critters that like to crawl into your pack or socks-- though some even climb shoeless.

733 total saves

4.8/5

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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.

Nearby Adventures

Hike the Mosca Pass Trail, Great Sand Dunes NP

5.0
8 mi / 1459 ft gain

Sandboard in Great Sand Dunes National Park

4.7

Backpack the Great Sand Dunes

4.8

Hike to Star Dune

5.0
8 mi / 750 ft gain
More Nearby Adventures