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The tallest dunes in North America are up to 750 feet tall and neighbor grasslands, shrublands and wetlands. They were formed by sand deposits of the Rio Grande on the San Luis Valley, and the park also has alpine lakes, six 13,000-foot mountains, and ancient forests.

This trail is moderately difficult with the elevation gain at an already high altitude. It provides wonderful views of the dunes and ascends into a beautiful alpine meadow setting.

hiking
3 days ago

This is perhaps the most difficult trail that I've ever done and I've hiked a lot in my fifty years! This is loose sand and sometimes one step forward takes you two steps back. I purchased sand goggles for this hike and was very glad because the wind was howling and the sand was blowing. That being said, the dunes, with their strange shapes and changing shadows were beautiful. The farther out you go, the fewer people. The view from the top of High Dune is awesome as is the feeling of achievement.

This is a fairly easy trail between near the visitor center and the campground. Although the views if the dunes are great, it is somewhat marred by the presence of roads and buildings in between. However, the dunes are really only accessible from the eastern side so this is understandable.

hiking
7 days ago

8 days ago

Gorgeous landscape! It is difficult. Every step you take, you slip back down so be prepared for slow progress. It's very windy and the sand gets blown everywhere. The sand was glued onto my sweat and snot. Pretty intense "hike".

on Mosca Pass Trail

hiking
13 days ago

A lovely, peaceful trail with great views of the sand dunes.

on High Dune Trail

hiking
13 days ago

A must-do if you visit this park. Be prepared for slow progress and some sand blasting at you if it's windy! We went in the morning when it was still cool and not as crowded.

Very scenic trail. Several steep sections.

I absolutely loved this trail. It was beautiful! It took me, an asthmatic from Florida, just under 2 1/2 hours to get to the end (from the Great Sand Dunes NP). Frankly, I felt like the journey was far better than the destination.

If you're starting from the dune side, it's nearly entirely uphill. It is beside a creek (Mosca Creek, of course) the entire time--you always hear it. There are many places along the trail that allow you to get water from it (the best/safest spot is close to the end). The middle part (the most beautiful) is quite rocky, but easy to hike. There are beautiful meadows towards the end where you can camp with a permit. There are two flowing creek crossings without a bridge (and one with), but they're very shallow. The one nearest to the end is quite muddy.

There are opportunities for panoramas and photos at every turn. Expect to see people on the trail as the park is quite busy this time of the year. But this hike is simply worth it!

a truly amazing view from the top!

hiking
21 days ago

The trail starts off very wide and this section of the trail is heavily trafficked. About a half of a mile in you reach Zapata Falls, the trail to the lake breaks off to the right. From here on the trail is much narrower and less traveled, think any normal hiking trail. There are several hills but overall it is a moderate hike. There is snow near Zapata Lake. Pack snowshoes or plan to scramble for ~1/2 miles to reach the lake.

This hike is one of my all time favorites. zapata falls is gorgeous but you might get a little wet getting there. after the falls there is about a mile or so of pretty easy hiking and then it gets pretty difficult. there are several streams to cross and some steeper climbs but the lake was well worth it.

Ooops! The review below was for High Dunes Trail!