Great Sand Dunes National Park Photo Gallery

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Over the past 12,000 years, sand and soil deposits picked up by westerly winds traveled through the San Luis Valley from the Rio Grande, and as the winds died down, the particles landed in the east edge of the valley near the Sangre de Cristo Range. These particles have created the tallest sand dunes in North America at about 750 feet from the valley floor, in an area now known as Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.  
Credit: Taylor S. Kennedy/National Geographic/Getty 
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While there are no hiking trails through the dunes themselves, there are trails inside the park for all skill levels. The Montville Nature Trail, a half-mile loop circling the lower portion of Mosca Canyon, serves up great views of the dunes. The seven-mile Mosca Pass Trail intersects the Montville Nature Trail and is a bit more strenuous, climbing almost 1,500 feet in elevation.  
Credit: Colorado Tourism 
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The sand dunes make for a dramatic setting on the plains of south-central Colorado, right at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range. From the top you can see mountains on one side, while on the other side the dunes seem to stretch forever.  
Credit: Colorado Tourism 
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One mile north of the visitor center, Pinyon Flats Campground offers 88 established sites spread out across two loops, each with excellent views of the dunes. Restroom facilities have sinks and flush toilets. Some sites have large cottonwood trees for shade, while others have smaller pinyon trees and are more open.  
Credit: Patrick Myers/National Park Service 
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During spring and fall migration, thousands of sandhill cranes drop in on the park's San Luis Valley. This is such a popular sight that nearby Monte Vista holds an annual spring Crane Festival.  
Credit: National Park Service 
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Medano Creek flows in spring and early summer, luring visitors to splash, wade, skimboard, or float... depending on the water level.  
Credit: National Park Service 
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Visitors willing to take a long drive or hike should head into the park's Alpine Peaks, where it is too cold for trees to grow, but wildflowers, pikas, marmots, and bighorn sheep can be seen. There are a number of trails in the area; just make sure to check the conditions before setting out.  
Credit: Kris Illenberger/National Park Service 
 
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