Sand Dunes National Park Photo Gallery

Words and photos by Kersten Vasey

My friend and I were having our usual midweek discussion that revolved around plans for the weekend’s adventure.

Weekend at Copper? Potentially.

Tetons? A bit far.

Camping in Sand Dunes National Park? Intriguing.

I had just moved from Boston to Colorado and was ready to explore. But it was November, that awkward time of year when the snow hadn’t started piling up yet but the granite faces of the Front Range were uncomfortably slick.

Sand Dunes it was.

We were lucky that Saturday. A storm, bringing swaths of rain and wind to the region surrounding the park, had just blown through and we only narrowly missed it. Had we arrived any earlier, sand-laden winds would have ended our journey with painful abruptness. Instead, we were left to explore a perfect sea of ever-shifting beiges and blues left in its wake.

Sand Dunes National Park Photo Gallery
There was a playful twist added to our excursion: Though we were hiking up the giant dunes, our descents down them would be by sled.

We trekked through the soft formations, then up. The air broke with our squeals as, one at a time, we whirred down the steep dunes.

Sand Dunes National Park Photo Gallery
As the day drew on, the sun began its decline. Shadows beneath the dunes elongated, and the air began to cool against our overexposed skin.

I paused to take it in. The vivid landscape of contrasts was not a place I considered exploring prior to moving west, nor a place I would immediately recognize as Colorado. The Middle East, maybe, or a distant planet in “Star Wars”. Thankful for having such a landscape less than a galaxy away, I turned my thoughts again to the next sandy summit.

Six hours and countless dunes later, our energy was sapped. I sailed down one last dune, then watched the sun as it bathed the park in twilight’s colors.