Dunes Trail from Pinyon Flats is a 4.5 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Mosca, Colorado that offers scenic views and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
dogs on leash
From Denver, Colorado Springs, or Pueblo, the most common route is south on I-25 to Walsenburg, west on US 160, north on State Highway 150. For a more mountainous drive from Denver (same mileage as the I-25 route), you may also take US 285 south, then State Highway 17 south, then County Lane 6 east from Mosca. From Albuquerque, drive north on I-25 to Santa Fe, then north on US 285 to Alamosa. From Alamosa, take either U.S. Highway 160 east and State Highway 150 north, or State Highway 17 north and County Lane 6 east from Mosca.
One of my favorite places to hike. I've hiked along the dunes, Medano creek and in the forested areas to the East. The dunes were created due to high wind, so take that into consideration while packing your gear. This National Park is a gem and a must-visit location. Visit the interactive Ranger station and bring your camera for sunset shadows on the dunes.
good: shallow river, giant dunes, camping, clean bathrooms.
bad: wind + sand will exfoliate you like a sand blaster , kids/elderly even worse. if you see the sand pick up in a cloud find cover fast.
We hiked the dunes when there were 27 mph winds and it was pretty unpleasant most of the way. Once we got to the top, it was very rewarding, and it's really fun running down the dunes.
I hiked to High Dune on December 31st. The sun came out briefly before snow flurries followed me the rest of the hike. It is truly a unique place, I uploaded pictures of the hike. I highly recommend it, great fun and stunning views.
Beautiful and always a fun day!
We go at least once or twice a year. We love playing in the water, but I don't go unless there is water. You can check the creek conditions at the Sand Dunes web site.
we have done the junior ranger program and it can be really cool depending on who the ranger is when helping them.
If you hike to the top, like others have said, bring sunscreen, lightweight clothes, and shoes that can withstand heat and sand (no flip flops unless you plan on sitting down a lot to cool off your feet).
There is a camp ground there, but I haven't camped there since I was a kid. I remember lots of cactus-not very child friendly- maybe things have changed.
Amazing to see the sand dunes.
We backpacked into the dunes to camp there overnight. Seeing the tent in the middle of the sand dunes illuminated only by the Moon was pretty surreal. Climbing sand dunes with packs was fairly strenuous. Don't climb straight up the dunes with a pack, but travel along zig-zag dune crests that link up the dunes. Bring plenty of water in order to have a safe and fun time.
Visited Labor Day Weekend (2014). Pretty awesome and unique. Avid hiker so hiking to top of highest dune was no problem - although for those less fit or inexperienced, it might be tough. In either case, be sure to get it done early in the morning and even then be sure to wear sun screen as exposure is 100% with no relief and bring water. AND if you have a dog, bring dog booties as sand will be hot for their paws.
Also be sure to check out the quick hike to Zapata Falls (not on the dunes).
Additional images of dunes at http://www.ohnophoto.com/royal-gorge-sand-dunes-national-park/
My friends and I hiked for about an hour and did not make it to the top of the highest dune. It got dark on us, so we had to retreat. The place is otherworldly and I cannot wait to go back to hike more! Make sure to bring lots of water and take your time. Hiking in sand in high elevations uphill is quite tiring!
We visited the sand dunes with 70 5th graders on a field trip. We only went from parking lot to sand dunes, not a very far hike. The creek was running, the water was warm, and the kids had a great time. Definitely something to go see in CO! Probably much better to visit when the creek is running if you have kids. I hear it only runs a few weeks a year. Take bathing suits and utilize the changing rooms/outdoor showers so your pants aren't full of sand when you leave!
My wife and I did the hike July of 2013 saw 2 mule deer