We went to the sand dunes late March for my spring break. I'm a teacher/outdoors woman and they have to compliment each other when time is forgiving. We have most weekends during the school year but during those breaks, we break out fast ;) We had all the plans to pack that night for the whole 10 days and leave early in the morning, but after my kids left for the day I hit my second wind, came home and said "lets go now!"
We packed everything and left by 5 to get to dunes 4 hours away. I didn't care, I wanted to get there and wake up to my favorite type of morning, coffee with a view.
We got to the dunes at nightfall, we tried to beat the dark but you never know when the night will cape over you in the spring. We made our final turn at 9pm and tried to find a campsite that would be level enough for our car and Tepui Tent, they are one in the same. I have to mention that getting to a site in the dark can be the most anticipated excitement of a trip, you know where you are geographically, but your surroundings are a mystery until the sun comes up. All we had was a blanket of stars and the near sounds of wildlife. For you avid outdoors-people, this is the comfort of home. When we are on the road with our house on our car and family (2 dogs and my husband) I can be anywhere and be at home. I encourage all of you to find your home in just that, simplicity comfort :)
We made a quick fire that fed us a gourmet meal of hot dogs and Coors Light ;) Then headed up the ladder to our home away from the city; our tent. We were woken up in the middle of the night by coyotes howling next to our campsite, which I learned later was either them confirming a kill, taking roll-call or mating. Being up high never felt so safe.
We slept until about 6am (normal for when we camp) I sleepily climbed down the ladder of our tent, and saw the sun rising over the great sand dunes. Blue and Rugger were ready to come down from the tent, this was a learning experience. Blue is a stiff 65lbs and Rugger is 45lbs. I had Andy hand Rugger down to me, easy enough. Blue ended up kicking off the tent and knocking both of us to the ground. He shook it off pretty well and then was ready to explore.
We had so much fun exploring this area. We went in March so there was nobody around camping outside, they were mostly at the inn down the mountain. We hiked around our campsite and ended up seeing some of the most beautiful sights. We had to take caution in many areas because the ground is filled with cacti and spurs that we had to pull out of our pups paws. I recommend paw covers if you are headed this way. For humans-go for thick pants or tall socks and wear shoes that cover your feet. Tweezers helped us pull spurs out-they were everywhere!
Here are a few items that can help protect your dogs paws in these situations.
We camped at the Great Sand Dunes Oasis campsites which costed about $20/day and you pay down the mountain at the rest area. This campsite is outside of the park and you drive in to see the dunes. Since we arrived so late, we called them on our way down and they were incredibly nice and said just find a spot and walk on down in the morning to pay. It was extremely easy.
Once inside the park their is a multiple of things to do. I highly recommend dune sledding (you rent boards at the rest area outside the park). Take lots of pictures- this is an experience you wont forget!
We stayed two nights then folded up the tent (which is me sitting on top of the tent while Andy zips everything up) then headed off to New Mexico.
TIPS for The Great Sand Dunes:
*You pay to camp here because it is a National Park- you can camp or stay at the inn
*Wear closed-toe shoes, high socks or pants-spurs are everywhere
*bring covers for your dog’s paws-they will get spurs in their paws -bring tweezers to help with spur removal
*rent things to do at the rest-stop outside of the park
*the inn is close by to the campsites and has a convenience store/gas station if you need firewood or other items. It also has a bathroom, showers and dumpsters
*WAKE UP EARLY! you need to see that sunrise over the dunes!