We arrived at Great Sand Dunes NP Friday morning after another beautiful drive through an amazing valley surrounded by mountains. We could see the dunes from quite a distance as things started to flatten out. We arrived at the visitors center, took a quite nature hike through the woods, and went off to tackle the dunes. You have to wade through a wide shallow river bed to get to the dune field, which was freezing as it was only about 60 degrees out, although sunny. The wind, however, was a problem, with gusts up to 40mph sandblasting us with every step. We got to the base of the dunes and decided to turn around, and try tackling them again the next morning when the winds calmed down. We had a nice long lunch, a few drinks, and dessert at a local restaurant, and just relaxed and did laundry that afternoon at the campsite. We spent most of the time in the car to stay out of the wind, and planned out our next couple of days.
Saturday morning, we woke up bright and early and hurried to the dune field at 6am. It was about 34 degrees out by the time we got there, and there was ice along the edges of the creek. The wind, however, was only about 8-10mph, so we decided to bundle up and go for it. It was a struggle just getting through the creek, which was running fast this morning. Once we dried off, we set out for the tallest nearby ridge. We warmed up as we got moving, but it was tough going. Imagine how hard it is to walk along the beach, now turn that into a mountain. We got to the top of the ridge in sight, and were breathing hard although still a little chilly. It was much higher than it looks in the picture. We decided that the view was good enough from there, and headed back down. Down was much easier, but since you're not working hard it was a lot colder. I was really not looking forward to getting back across the creek, but we did, and immediately sat in the car to warm up. And then it was about 8am, and time to head to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.