We continued on from the Rocky Mountains National Park to the Great Sand Dunes National Park, with a stop at the Valley View Hot Springs along the way for a late morning/early afternoon soak.
A Stop at the Hot Springs
It was early May and still chilly during the day, which made for a perfect hot spring stop. We arrived at the hot springs before lunch time and took in a soak to relax some of our hiking muscles.
The views while soaking in this mountain top hot spring were amazing.
There was even a bigger pool where you could do laps in the hot springs water.
After a couple of hours soaking in the hot springs and sweating in the sauna, we continued on to the Great Sand Dunes National Park
Great Dunes Amongst Mountains
The whole day, our view while driving was nothing but valleys and mountains. Nothing hinted that we would see sand dunes. As we approached the park, the Great Sand Dunes started to appear in a valley, with a backdrop of mountains.
On the way in to the park, we stopped to rent sand sledding gear and to secure a camping site. Then we parked the car and headed towards the sand dunes. There was an option to rent sand-board, but with my ankle still healing from our Zion Adventures, we decided to sled.
In our excitement, we stopped at the top of the first small dune we found and decided to try our sand sleds. I sat down on my sled and pushed off. As soon as I lifted my feet to the sled, I zipped down the dune, spraying sand to either side of me as I went. Sand was also sprayed on me and I thought about the sand goggles and bandana I had forgotten in the car. By the time I made it to the bottom of the dune, I also had a mouth and nose full of sand.
I stood up and watched as KC took his turn sledding down the dune. He managed to move faster down the dune than I did, but he also kicked up much more sand. By the time he came to a stop, his feet and legs were mostly buried under sand on top of the sled, with the sled still on top of the dune’s surface.
His face was sand crusted, but he was smiling, so we continued to hike to further, taller dunes in the fading light. We sled our way back down the dunes. A couple of times, KC managed to sled fast enough that when he hit a bump, he was thrown off the sled. Each time we was thrown from his sled, KC was able to land on his feet, giving the impression that he wanted to jump off the sled instead of being thrown off.
By the time the sun fell behind the mountains, we had sand everywhere on us and in us. Even though we shook out our clothes before getting into the tent, we ended up with a big pile of sand inside the tent and between our bed sheets. This would have been a minor annoyance, except the temperature dropped and it started raining that night. Sand grains and cold temperatures made sleeping that night less than comfortable and packing away a wet sand covered tent while the temperature was hovering just above freezing was also not a fun time. However, sand sledding and seeing the dunes was well worth it.
The Great Sand Dunes National Park was a hidden gem at the bottom of Colorado. However, if you find yourself sand-sledding or sand-boarding, don’t forget your goggles or bandana or you’ll find yourself with sand everywhere by the end of the day.
You can check out more pictures of our Colorado Adventures on our Photo Journal Page.
About the Valley View Hot Springs, check out the OTL Valley View Hot Spring Website.
About the Great Sand Dunes National Park, check out the NPS website.