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Trip 5, Park 7: Great Sand Dunes National Park

The Great Sand Dunes National Park features a field of sand dunes covering more than 30 square miles with the backdrop of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Impressively, the sand dunes can be seen at the base of the mountain from at least 50 miles away (which is when we spotted them).

The Great Sand Dunes are the tallest sand dunes in North America. The photos do not give a good sense of how high and vast they are. We hiked out to the base of the dunes but opted to not hike to the top of the dunes. (Any black dots you can make out in the photos on the dunes are hikers, just to give perspective.) After walking out to the dunes, we hiked the short Sand Sheet Loop nature trail near the visitor center before departing for Colorado Springs.

After having explored the "Mighty 5" national parks in Utah and even the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, the Great Sand Dunes National Park did not seem equally on par. It is an impressive dune field but does not rise to the level of national park status, in our opinion. Some of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains lie within the national park boundary, which expands the offerings in the park, but can only be accessed by four-wheel high-clearance vehicles.

By the way, Colorado Springs had many breweries to choose from. We stayed in downtown Colorado Springs and enjoyed the nearby Pikes Peak Brewing Co, Phantom Canyon Brewing Co. (with awesome food!), and Bells Brothers. We also found Goat Patch Brewing Company (near the Garden of the Gods) to be good.

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