Explore the most popular nature trips trails in Great Sand Dunes National Park with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

I lost the trail 2 or 3 times and over shot the lake.
12.66 miles later, 3 adult tantrums, 2 falls, 3 female bighorns, no partirages or pears trees, exhausted, nauseated from the altitude I made it back to camp and had a good laugh til I cried at myself.
I loved it. Plan to go back and put some trail markers up with Wyland the Earl Grey drinking, ex Army Ranger with a kitty, camphost.
Markers are sorely needed.
These mountains and the valley below are sacred. there is potent magic here.
Don't be disappointed if a place doesn't let you in the first time. Bow your head, lift your heart and try again.

Best short hike I’ve ever done. Don’t worry about getting lost. You are always able to see the visitors center from the dunes.

hiking
23 days ago

After driving 6 plus hours to get there, it definitely was a good trail to stretch not only the legs but the entire body on! Such a fun trail!

camping
27 days ago

Love it

hiking
1 month ago

Awesome park!

hiking
2 months ago

Simply great!

hiking
2 months ago

When you reach the end of the trail, don't stop. The view east is a bit further along. Follow the dirt road and stay to the right up the hill, maybe 1/4 mile further. You will be rewarded with a view of the valley beyond. Enjoyed the hike very much.

hiking
2 months ago

Great hike, you get a little bit of everything. Some solid uphills on the way up thru trees on dirt, up in some rocky areas, and then some tundra-ish marsh to a pretty cool lake. Fantastic views the whole way up. GPS is going to vary, funny watching people post the various distances. I got 4.7 one way on mine. Wasn't terribly difficult. Hour and a half up, hour down. As every hike, moderate and difficult is going to be a personal judgement. Its around 3-3200 ft elevation gain up in somewhere between 4.5-6 miles. If that seems hard for you, its going to be hard. If that seems like a day in the park, you'll breeze through! I thought the actual hike was more enjoyable than the destination, but that's just me. Not that the lake was a disappointment by any means. Lots of marmots prowling around the path leading up to the lake. I went and it was sunny - a little overcast, very enjoyable day on the trail. Well worth the time to check out, even if you don't go all the way. The falls are also pretty cool. Little rock hopping thru a very short slot canyon. If you don't have good balance, you may want to wait until after the hike in case your feet get wet, or bring some grippy water shoes.

hiking
2 months ago

The dunes are always a great time. We hiked Sunday mid morning to late afternoon. Definitely a leg burner. Be sure to bring sun screen, sunglasses and extra water! It’s almost worth wearing long sleeves and pants as the wind can pick up the sand pretty quickly. Incredible views

hiking
2 months ago

Completed this trail in a little over 2 hours, so the estimated time is pretty spot (I don't consider myself a super adept hiker). Additionally, I went on a relatively cloudy day, which turned out to be beneficial because it definitely lowered the temperature and kept the sun from beating down on us the entire time. It seemed that 90+% of the people that made it to high dune did not venture further to the Star Dune (tallest in NA). I ended up continuing to Star and it was undoubtedly pretty difficult. There are a fair amount of large dunes between the two points (I believe it's roughly 1.5 mi past High Dune). Overall, hiking up Star Dune, itself, was challenging, since the grade was steeper than I had anticipated. If you do continue on to Star- be sure to bring plenty of water. Good luck!

little water this time of year. late August.

3 months ago

Beautiful, loved having the mountains surrounding!

I'm giving this a 4 because there is no way this trail is 8 miles long. at the very least, it's 6 miles one way. there are two points where you are losing all of the elevation you've gained, just to have to go and regain it again. bring more water than you think you need.

also, the map posted on all trails is not real. it's not a straight path

hiking
3 months ago

Magic!

I didn't hike the full trail, but it is somewhat shielded from elements, has a beautiful view of the dunes, and was overall very enjoyable

hiking
3 months ago

It's my first time to climb a sand dune. I didn't imagine it's so hard to hike on the sand dune. It's really hard but funny. The only problem is sometimes the wind is so strong that you cannot even open your eyes. I think it's better to wear a long sleeved clothes. I didn't wear it and I felt pain when the sands beat me. There will not be many people climbing to the top of the dune, so I felt proud for my success.

hiking
3 months ago

A small hike to see the plants near the Great Sands.

So beautiful!! Could be considered hard for casual hikers, and for avid hikers moderate.

Very neat experience! Definitely tough on the way up. Really suggest going early, especially if you bring dogs! Also make sure to wear shoes you don’t mind getting sand in.

hiking
3 months ago

Hiked Memorial Day Weekend. Absolutely beautiful hike! But please note that the lake is 6 miles ONE WAY, thus making this hike 13 miles if you include the Falls. We started around 9 am, and it took roughly 6 hours to do both and take a lunch break at the lake. Very steep trail, but once you hit the boulder fields it flattens out. Make sure to bring enough water, it gets hot in the afternoons. Lots of people were trying to start the hike (with no layers, visible water or snack supply) when we were finishing without realizing how far it really is.

hiking
3 months ago

Hiking on the Dunes is such an incredible experience. We went at sunrise, and it was well worth it. Some things to keep in mind:
-hiking in sand is much more difficult than regular hiking. It's a short distance (approx a mile to High Dune), but each step takes a lot more effort than hiking on usual surfaces
-we went the morning after a rainstorm. The sand was more packed/hard than usual, and this made hiking much easier. I highly recommend it!
-even though it's counterintuitive, wear shoes/boots/socks, not sandals. The sand can get quite hot and it burns. Even if you start out in the dark/early morning, the temperature can rise quickly.
-be careful in planning your path to the Dune; avoid the fragile plants!
-if it's windy, you'd appreciate long pants, a hat, and a windproof jacket (a rain jacket would do). At one point while sand boarding, I even wished for goggles.

Enjoy!

hiking
4 months ago

Wow. Definitely not a hike for those with weak knees. We planned on camping here, but due to lighting we ended up getting on the dunes around 2a.m. Definitely a challenging, but very rewarding hike. Some of the best views you can experience in America!

Surreal place and great little hike. Water and sunscreen are a must.

Amazing hike. I bit more challenging than anticipated, especially coming from sea level. Started 7:00am at the campground trailhead. Made it to the lake by 11:20am. Back to campground by 3:00pm. Bring lots of water and sunscreen. The Sun is very strong. Also, thunderstorms started moving in around 1:00pm.

Went on a windy, cloudy morning before a thunderstorm and it was a magical experience. Definitely follow the ridges where the sand is more firm. The wind was blowing the sand around, making beautiful eddies but blasting our legs. Wear pants on a windy day (easy to say when it was cloudy) and stay on the windward side of the ridges.

Tips aside, one of the coolest things I’ve ever done, 100% recommend!!! The beauty was otherworldly. If you go beyond the first high dune ridge, all that you can see for miles are dunes and mountains.

Update: we went again the morning after a steady rain, and the sand was solid and cool to walk on. Perfect conditions for hiking, and the patterns that showed up were breathtaking. I walked barefoot in the dunes for hours with plenty of sunscreen and plenty of water.

backpacking
4 months ago

A moderately challenging hike with some steep sections. Beautiful views at the lake though!

Beautiful hike, and though sandy, hot, and hard, it’s so worth it! We tried sliding down in a cardboard box, but it didn’t work very well for us and we ended up just tumbling down the dune. Overall, it was a wonderful trip!

Amazing views on the way! We started very late about 5 pm and went to the falls first started to trail from the falls around 6 pm and went uphill for about another 2 hrs and turn around at 8 pm. We didn’t finish the trail but my gps told me we went about 3.4 miles so we were about 1.2 mile short of finishing the trial. It’s totally doable and worth it. Amazing views of sunset and the valley

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