Explore the Sand Dunes
Explore any part of the 30 square mile dunefield you wish; there are no designated trails in the sand.
A dunes–accessible wheelchair is available for free loan at the Visitor Center. In summer months, plan to hike the dunes in morning or evening to avoid hot sand.
When there’s water in Medano Creek at the base of the dunes, adults and kids alike love to splash in the stream. Watch for waves in the water, a phenomenon called "surge flow." As mounds of sand form and fall in the creek bed, water surges, similar to the action of waves at a beach. Check current conditions of Medano Creek on our news page.
The Tallest Dunes
The "High Dune" is neither the highest in elevation nor the tallest in the park, but it looks that way from the main parking lot. It is about 650 feet (198 m) high. Cross the flats and zigzag up the ridgelines to reach it. The 360 degree view is inspirational. From High Dune, the skyrising dune you see to the west is the spectacular Star Dune, rising 750 feet (229 m). It is the tallest dune in North America. To reach it from High Dune, journey another mile and a half up and down across the dunes to its summit.
Eastern Dune Ridge
By high clearance 4WD vehicle, drive to Sand Pit or Castle Creek Picnic Areas. Or, with 2WD vehicle, drive to Point of No Return, then hike 1/2 mile (1K) to Sand Pit. Castle Creek offers an impressively tall, steep dune face. Both areas have close access to Medano Creek, which usually flows through autumn in this area.
Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve is for nature lovers