Great Sand Dunes NP (CO)
I'm halfway! Upon visiting the Great Sand Dunes, I've been to 30 of 60 U.S. National Parks. That took me 6 years to do at a fast but not breakneck pace. The latter half will probably take longer; the remaining parks are generally more spread out all over the place, and some are quite difficult to get to (Alaska, American Samoa, Arkansas).
So who would have thought the tallest sand dunes in North America would be in Colorado? They get up to 750ft tall! It's a pretty unique area, too - there are snow-capped and forested mountains, huge sand dunes, high desert, wetlands, swamps, natural hot springs, and a seasonal river all within relatively close quarters. The dunes are formed by sand being blown in from the western mountains (the San Juans) toward the eastern mountains (the Sangre de Cristos), and then storms from the east blow the sand back and it piles up. Additionally, the seasonal streams carry sand from the mountains back down to the dunefield. I would love to visit this place again in the spring to see snow on the mountains and the stream. Another interesting thing to know is that just a few inches under the dry surface sand, the dunes are quite moist. This causes the dunes to be pretty stable - they don't blow around and shift like you might expect huge piles of sand to.
We had a great time bumming around this park and Colorado. This photo shows the scene pretty much as soon as we got there. It's pretty stormy in the summer so we rarely saw light touch the dunes, but whenever it did it made for a great photo. I have a few more photos and stories to share, but I thought this one makes for a nice introduction to the area. Stay tuned!
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Captured: July 2018
Camera: Nikon D610
Lens: Nikon 200-500mm
Settings: ISO100, 200mm, f/11, 1/200 sec