Great Sand Dunes National Park

Colorado

The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is located in south-central Colorado. Its 100,000+ acres include a 30-square-mile field of the tallest sand dunes in North America, some of which reach as much as 750 feet in height. The preserve offers a variety of other landscapes to experience as well, such as grasslands, wetlands, conifer forests, alpine lakes, and tundra. You can also splash, swim, and cool off in the park’s seasonal Medano Creek.

The weather at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve varies considerably with the seasons, and is affected by the area’s significant altitude, which ranges from 8,000 to over 11,000 feet. In the summertime, daytime temperatures often hover between 70-80F, but sand surface temperatures can reach a scading 150F on summer afternoons. Because of the altitude, these high daytime temperatures can drop into the 40s and 50s in the evening, so layered clothing is recommended. In spring and fall, daytime temperatures are closer to 50-70F, and nights can go down to the 20s. (Spring can also bring high winds in the afternoons.)

The park is open all year round, so you can also visit in winter -- but be prepared! Daytime highs are usually in the teens-30s, and lows can dip well below 0. Always check the forecast before you head to the park, and make sure you have the proper clothing and gear to enjoy yourself safely.

Great Sand Dunes is situated in quite a remote area, but there are a variety of small towns in the vicinity to explore. The town of Mosca is the closest at 23 miles southeast of the Visitors Center, and offers basic facilities like a gas station, restaurant, post office, and motel. Ten miles further along at the junction of US 285 and US 160, you’ll find the village of Alamosa, the county seat and most populous city in the area with just shy of 10,000 inhabitants. You can also reach the relatively large city of Pueblo, Colorado within a two-hour drive of the park.

As far as activities are concerned, the park is perhaps best known for its unique opportunity to slide down its epic dunes on sleds and sandboards. However, there’s a lot more to Great Sand Dunes than summery sleigh rides. Although there are no designated trails within the 30-square mile sand dune field, visitors are welcome to hike and backpack anywhere in it they wish; there are also ample forested and trails to explore in the surrounding preserve area. Great Sand Dunes’ remote location makes it an excellent spot for stargazing, and the park offers some dedicated night programs to orient guests to the depths of the night sky. The rangers also offer a variety of free daytime interpretive and educational events; check the official park calendar for full details.

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Weather
Spring 50-70 F
Summer 70-80 F
Fall 50-70 F
Winter 30 F
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Nearby Cities
Alamosa, CO
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RV Resorts & Campsites in Great Sand Dunes National Park

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve only offers one on-site campground with RV-friendly spots -- and even these are limited in number and don’t offer hookups.

However, there are also a number of other area campgrounds to choose from, both public and private.

RV Rentals Near Great Sand Dunes National Park

Nearby RV Rentals

Restaurants

What to Do at
Great Sand Dunes National Park

Don’t get us wrong, there’s plenty to see inside the park proper. I mean, we’re talking about over 100,000 acres of preserved land to explore! But even the woodsiest camper needs to eat every once in a while. (And hey, you may just want to catch a show or hit a museum while you’re at it.) Here’s what to see, do, and eat in the Great Sand Dunes National Park area.

Restaurants

Mealtime is the best time, especially in southern Colorado, where the chiles are abundant and the Mexican influence is strong. Hope you like it hot -- but if not, don’t worry. There are plenty of different cuisine options available.

Bistro Rialto

Italian makes everyone happy -- and this joint serves it all up fresh and affordable. Pizza, pasta, salad and more. Don’t forget the garlic bread!

Type: Italian

Location: Alamosa

Calvillo’s Mexican Restaurant

Classic Mexican eats with all the fixings at affordable prices. Choose from menu items or a generous buffet.

Type: Mexican

Location: Alamosa

Nestle Toll House Cafe

Who doesn’t love an old-fashioned chocolate chip cookie? Well, when it’s time for dessert after a day of exploring, you can head to the original source. Get your chocolate chipper fresh out of the oven, or upgrade by building your own ice cream sandwich.

Type: Cafe

Location: Alamosa

The Rubi Slipper

Looking for a lunch spot? Try this local favorite offering an array of burgers alongside Tex-Mex delights. Try the roasted jalapeno spinach dip!

Type: Tex-Mex

Location: Alamosa

Shopping

Maybe your trusty hiking boots finally gave out -- or maybe you’re ready for a new kind of outdoor adventure. Or maybe you just want a new pair of jeans. Whether it’s gear or goodies you’re after, you can find what you’re looking for in these southern Colorado shops.

Museums

Want to learn more about the wild, wild west? These San Luis Valley museums are your opportunity.

Sightseeing

While the dunes alone could keep you busy for a week or longer, there’s a lot more to see outside the park boundaries

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How to Get to
Great Sand Dunes National Park

Although Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is located in a remote area, modern technology makes it easily accessible no matter where you’re coming from.

By Car

Most visitors will take I25 to Walsenburg, and from there head west on US160 and then north on State Highway 150. However, it’s important not to rely on your GPS for remote Rocky Mountain driving, as these systems often lead travelers astray. Click here for more detailed directions from a variety of other locations.


By plane

Commercial airlines do service the small Alamosa airport, only 38 miles from park boundaries; you can also fly into the relatively nearby cities of Denver, Colorado Springs, or Albuquerque.

Entering Great Sand Dunes National Park

The fee to enter Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is $20 for a non-commercial vehicle and its occupants, which gets you a 7-day pass to the park. However, fees are only collected when the entrance station is open, which means the park is free to enter at all other times. You may also obtain a $15 pass if you enter the park by motorcycle, or you may choose to upgrade to an annual pass for $40 (for Great Sand Dunes only) or $80 (for all NPS properties). For up-to-date details on park fees, visit this page.

No matter what park you’re visiting, an RV is the perfect way to combine the flexibility of camping with the comforts of home. And if you don’t already have a rig of your own, no worries; RV rentals are available in every corner of the country.

And whether it’s your first RV trip or you’re a long-time camping veteran, we can’t wait to learn more about your trip to Great Sand Dunes National Park! Share your photos and stories with us  at memories@rvshare.com, or tag us with your epic adventure tales on social media. Who knows? We might just feature you on the RVshare blog or social channels. Enjoy your trip!