Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 09-23-2008, 11:01 AM   #1
30' 1999 Excella
Tin Diesel's Avatar
Kingwood , Texas
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 250
Images: 4
Send a message via Yahoo to Tin Diesel
Great Sand Dunes National Park

Shhhhhhh! This is a secret. I’m only telling this to fellow Airstreamers. DON’T TELL ANYBODY ELSE! Its already crowded enough!

If you are travelling through Colorado and have the opportunity to swing through the south-central area, you should make it a point – go out of your way – to see the Great Sand Dunes National Park. If your travels take you north/south, forgo I-25 and instead take state highway 285 and 17. If you’re going east/west, take highway 160. In all cases, a beautiful drive. See map below.

If you’re just passin’ thru, give yourself a half-day to hike on the dunes. This is an experience not to miss. If you’re in decent shape, you can make it to the top of the highest dune and back down in two to four hours. Bring water, and a hat. Also, be prepared to walk across a shallow river that runs between the dunes parking lot and the access to the dunes.

If you only make it halfway to the top, its worth it – but to get all the way up and enjoy the full 360 view is spectacular.

For overnight stays, you have two options near the park – the San Luis Lakes State Park and the Great Sand Dunes National Park, run by the National Park Service. I have pictures of both below.

We stayed at the National Park in June. Its snuggled in between the dunes and the Sangre de Cristo mountains. You can read more about it here. The park is nice, clean and convenient to the dunes. Only a few sites have good views of the dunes – many are screened in the low trees native to the area. Sites are first-come, first-served. No reservations. To get a good spot, YOU MUST ARRIVE BEFORE NOON. To get any spot, you’d better get there before 3 p.m. We got there at 2 p.m. on a weekday in early June and got the last spot big enough for the trailer. That’s another thing – there aren’t many sites that will accommodate a larger trailer. Ours is 30’ and pretty much maxed-out the biggest spot. I wouldn’t have wanted to try to get a 34-footer in there. The sites have electric hookup only, are fairly small and close together.

There’s more to do than just hike the dunes, but we were on our way elsewhere and couldn’t take the time. Take an extra 30 minutes and go to the information center. There’s a walking tour that explains the origins of the dunes – very interesting.

In September, we stayed in the San Luis Lakes State Park. More about it here. This park is about 5 miles west the dunes as the crow flies, and borders the San Luis Lakes. Like all Colorado State Parks, the sites have electric hookup only, although ours happened to be right next to a fresh water outlet. Views from this park are fabulous (see pics below). The lakes aren’t great close-up, but they provide a nice foreground to the mountains and the dunes. You can reserve your spot through ReserveAmerica online – the best sites are on the east side of the Mosca A Loop. Watching sunset (and sunrise) from this park is almost better than being close up in the National Park. These sites are larger and better spaced than the National Park – many are pull through – and can accommodate the big MoHo’s. Be sure to check seasonal dates – we showed up on Sept. 13th without a reservation and found they were closing for the season on Sept. 14th.

The local area is flat and agricultural. There’s an alligator farm (!) nearby that everybody jokes about – but it’s the real thing. We didn’t stop in, but kids might enjoy it. The drive north on 17/285 is well worth it – a flat valley bordered by mountains on both sides. We split right at Leadville and took highway 91 to Copper Mountain. Gorgeous drive, no problem for the trailer (30’ with F250 Turbodiesel).
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	GSD1.jpg
Views:	105
Size:	262.3 KB
ID:	67929   Click image for larger version

Name:	GSD2.jpg
Views:	111
Size:	355.0 KB
ID:	67930  

Click image for larger version

Name:	GSD3.jpg
Views:	105
Size:	145.0 KB
ID:	67931   Click image for larger version

Name:	GSD4.jpg
Views:	101
Size:	152.3 KB
ID:	67932  

Click image for larger version

Name:	San Luis 1.jpg
Views:	110
Size:	172.5 KB
ID:	67933   Click image for larger version

Name:	San Luis 2.jpg
Views:	108
Size:	178.1 KB
ID:	67934  

Click image for larger version

Name:	San Luis 3.jpg
Views:	110
Size:	207.4 KB
ID:	67935   Click image for larger version

Name:	Colorado map.JPG
Views:	136
Size:	64.5 KB
ID:	67938  


Hey, its the only way to be sure!
Tin Diesel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-23-2008, 11:18 AM   #2
Rivet Master
warbler5's Avatar
2004 30' Classic
Roseville , California
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 679
Send a message via AIM to warbler5
Wow!!!!!! Thanks for sharing this's gorgeous! And, we also have a 30-footer, so the campground tips are helpful, too.

I wonder how long this has been a National Park....

2004 30' Airstream Classic
2011 GMC 3500HD Duramax
Hensley Arrow hitch

Jackson Rancheria, 10-12 Oct 2014
Pinnacles Nat'l Park, 20-22 Feb 2015
Casini Ranch, 10-12 Apr 2015

AIR #6287
TAC #CA-26
WBCCI #3933/4CU
warbler5 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-23-2008, 11:35 AM   #3
Boondocker's Avatar

1968 24' Tradewind
Louisville , earth
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 4,635
Images: 7
Send a message via Yahoo to Boondocker
Great place, epically in the late spring and early fall. BTW, I love the geese shot.

Visit my photography page
and the
Favorite camp grounds project map
My Blog

(The artist formerly known as General Disarray)

Boondocker is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-23-2008, 12:08 PM   #4
Full Timers/Diesel power.
Mike Leary's Avatar
1983 31' Airstream310
Cactus Hug , Arizona
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 2,540
Images: 11
That is a great spot, great part of the country; we'll be down there in a couple of weeks.
Thanks to you, it'll prolly be full!
"A settled wisdom, plus the itch to be elsewhere"
Mike Leary is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-23-2008, 02:15 PM   #5
Refurbished 89 Excella
DKDarrow's Avatar
Sugar Valley , Georgia
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 241
LOTS of national forest campgrounds in the area..............Take the road over to Chama and you pass a bunch of them........Maybe take a steam engine train ride out of Antonito................Dennis
Dennis & Susan
D&D Farms, Sugar Valley, Ga
Registered Boer goats
DKDarrow is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-23-2008, 03:21 PM   #6
Rivet Master
ZoominC6's Avatar
2004 30' Classic Slideout
Colleyville , Texas
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 1,519
Great Sand Dunes is a really interesting spot to visit and with all the other sights in that region of our great country, Chama, Taos, Rio Grande Gorge and north into the high Rockies etc etc it's not to be missed if you're traveling in that region. We recommend it highly.

In dog years, I'm dead!
ZoominC6 is offline   Reply With Quote

Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Estes Park/Rocky Mountain National Park PWRSTRK On The Road... 13 06-08-2010 02:18 PM
Great Sand Dunes Colorado Royce On The Road... 11 08-22-2007 01:29 AM
October Great Sand Dunes & Senic Rail Rally? Boondocker Forum Rallies & Meet Ups 12 03-06-2006 01:07 PM
Great Sand Dunes tips? rfield54 Our Community 6 06-11-2005 05:26 AM
Glacier National Park kzener40 On The Road... 10 08-09-2002 06:10 AM

Featured Campgrounds

Reviews provided by

Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 03:13 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

Airstream is a registered trademark of Airstream Inc. All rights reserved. Airstream trademark used under license to Social Knowledge LLC.