Saturday, May 29, 2021

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Year:  1996, Western trip, age: young
I think I told them to act like they were hot and couldn't go another step.  Pretty sure the 3 boys weren't acting, lol.

Went up quite a mountain Thurs. (elevation near 10,000 ft.) heading to our campground and heard something pop .  I had noticed several packages of chips bloated before we left in the morning so I figured it was one of those.  I think I've gained a few pounds the past few weeks, maybe that's my problem, just swollen?

Our first glimpse of the mountains.

It was a good climb heading to our campground but glad we aren't going on that little dirt road at the top.

What does the "D" stand for?  In my case "duh" when I realized it was for the town, Del Norte, at it's base.

Well we had 3 bags of chips pop open from our elevation increase.  In all our years of travel I don't think we've had that happened.  For dinner we had BLT'S.  Pat opened the mayo and....speaking of pressure, let's just say he pulled a "Debbie" as we now call it!  Made me think, where do they package all of those kinds of products to be delivered to higher elevations?  🙄 from Pat.

We are staying at Woods and River RV Park and Campground in Del Norte, CO.  It is a basic campground, no frills, but what can we see out our front window?  The Rio Grande River! It actually starts at Canby Mountain, about a 4 hour drive from here.  It's not really that far but it's one of those "you can't get there, at least directly, from here" things.  The campground is 1 to  1 and a 1/2 hours from Great Sand Dunes National Park depending on which route you take.  We didn't book very early so over a holiday weekend we didn't expect a close campground, especially this year.

Views from our campground.

The Rio Grande River runs through our campground.

I have not experienced altitude sickness before.  Not fun.  Thursday night and still tonight (Fri.) my head feels like those bags of chips and nothing helps much.  I just hope it doesn't pop open.  Pat said he had a headache too. According to him we should be better by Sat.---PLEASE.

We left the campground at 8:30 this morning to check out the sand dunes.  It was established as a National Monument in 1932 and redesignated a National Park in 2004.  I mention this because older Monuments and National Parks just weren't built for the traffic they get today.  We drove right into the park (a long line waiting when we left at 11), found a parking space in the main lot at the visitor's center, picked up a map, and then we go to the Dunes access.  WOW, it was packed and parking was WAAAY down the road.  

Views as we approached Great Sand Dunes National Park Fri. morning.

The Great Sand Dunes

A view of the Dunes parking.  A road to the left had cars lined on it way back.  Moderna Creek in the background.  The creek is runoff from melted snow from the mountains and is usually only present in April and May. 1 to 5" deep it's a fun way to keep cool.

We are here until Tues. but we decided to go today knowing it would be crowded the next 3 days for sure.  Neither of us felt like walking that far so we took a tour of the beautiful Piñon Flats Campground in the park (no RV's over 29' allowed and even that looked like it would be tight, also the campground was full) and circled through the Dunes lot again, and again, and then gave up.  We went back to the visitor's center and found we could get access to the Dunes that way.  Still didn't feel like walking the entire path (temps. last night got down to 39° and when we got to the Dunes it was still only in the upper 50's but the sun and sand make it feel much hotter) with the sun so we just took a short walk.  We were here in 1996 with the boys and we had just been on the Dunes in TX in April (we didn't have a need to do more sand sledding, although the sand boards a lot of people had looked fun) so we were good just seeing them.  We still have time if we want to go back.

View from the campground.

Campsite at Piñot Flats Campground.

Loop Trail at the Visitor's Center.

Nice picture Pat.  Age: old

1996 Western trip
Our youngest, Chris, wading in Medano Creek in front of the Great Sand Dunes.


  1. Nice pictures Ann! I love when you post the pics you took as you made the travels with the kids to compare with now!!! I also experienced altitude sickness the first time in the mountains. Mine was gone after 24 hours. Praying yours subsides soon! Love the chip story! laurie

    1. All those years of scanning pictures (started when we moved to Williamsburg) have paid off. Pat thought altitude sickness but I'm wondering if it just isn't a severe migraines from the very dry desert air and altitude change. Either way I'm trying to treat for both just not effectively. Dry and high may not be two places I want to live permanently!