The National Park Service offers a variety of camping opportunities including car camping in the Pinyon Flats campground, 4WD backcountry camping and backpacking. The popular Pinyon Flats campground contains 88 sites with picnic tables, fire grates, and restrooms. Around half of the camp sites are reservable at the National Park Service website, while the other half are available on a first come first serve basis. There are also a few large group sites for 15 or more people available by reservation. If you prefer a bed over a sleeping bag, there are a handful of lodging options close by, including the seasonal Great Sand Dunes Lodge and the Great Sand Dunes Oasis Motel.The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve offers a wide variety of hiking opportunities from the dunes to the neighboring mountains. The most popular day hikes include the challenging treks up High Dune and Star Dune, Medano Lake Trail, Montville Trail, Mosca Pass Trail and Music Pass Trail. The hike up High Dune, or a bit farther to Star Dune, offers amazing views of the expansive dune field and the surrounding valley and mountain peaks. The soft sand makes climbing the dunes challenging and in the peak of summer the surface can reach up to 140 degrees. It is recommended to hike the dunes in early morning or evening when the outside temperature is cooler and the sand isn’t blistering hot.

Camping and hiking are generally what bring visitors to Colorado’s Great Sand Dunes, but it’s the other unique attractions that keep people returning year after year. One of the most popular sand dunes attractions is Medano creek, which flows along the east edge of the dune field during spring and into early summer, providing opportunities to splash around and cool off. Another beautiful attraction that visitors may not know about until they’re camped in the park is the spectacular night sky. Minimal light pollution in the San Luis Valley provides brilliant views of the Milky Way, a variety of familiar constellations and the occasional shooting star darting across the sky.

Colorado’s Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve contains a beautiful landscape with unique and unforgettable adventure opportunities. However, it can be a dangerous and daunting landscape if you aren’t properly prepared. No matter what time of year you visit the Great Sand Dunes National Park, the weather can be unpredictable and the temperatures can fluctuate dramatically from day to night. It’s important to be prepared by carrying enough water to stay hydrated, applying sunscreen and wearing UV protective clothing, and bringing warm clothing and rain gear for cold night and unexpected thunderstorms. The park and dunes are open to the public 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, so pick your favorite season and start planning your trip today.

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