Hike High Dune at Great Sand Dunes National Park

37.739890,-105.517032

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. 

Pack List

  • Water
  • Sled/sand board
  • Camera
Show More
RT Distance 2.5 Miles
Elevation Gain 700 Feet
Activities Chillin, Photography, Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Spring, Autumn
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Bathrooms
Easy Parking
River
Scenic

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

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.


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

Nearby Adventures

More Nearby Adventures

Hike the Mosca Pass Trail, Great Sand Dunes NP

102 Saves

Sandboard in Great Sand Dunes National Park

32 Saves

Backpack the Great Sand Dunes

338 Saves