Pinon Flats Campground is located in Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve in southern Colorado. The huge dunes are the tallest in North America and comprise about 11 percent of an enormous sand deposit that covers more than 330 square miles.
The dunes have long stood as a landmark for travelers from ancient North Americans to Southern Ute, Jicarilla Apaches, Navajos, early explorers, gold miners, homesteaders, ranchers, farmers and migrant field workers, to you - today's park visitor.
Great Sand Dunes' wide range of natural features provides endless outdoor recreational activities. The park is perfect for kids, who love exploring the dunefield on foot or by sled. Medano Creek, at the base of the dunes, is a popular place in the summertime. Kids and adults alike love to splash in the cool water.
Many kid-friendly, ranger-led activities and a junior ranger program are available.
Many miles of hiking and backpacking trails lead through the park's forests and alpine terrain, including the Mosca Pass Trail, Dunes Overlook/Sand Ramp Trail and Indian Grove Trail.
Pinon Flats campground offers 86 campsites; all are available to reserve in advance. Sites that are not reserved will be offered on a first-come, first-serve basis at the park. The park recommends making a reservation in advance, especially for peak summer weekends and holidays. Private first-come, first-served camping is also available just outside the park boundary. For more information about camping, visit www.nps.gov/grsa/planyourvisit/camping.htm. During visitor center operating hours, you can see a park film, experience interactive exhibits, speak with a helpful ranger and visit the Western National Parks Association store. Kids of all ages can pick up a Junior Ranger booklet or participate in the Junior Ranger Explorer program.
Great Sand Dunes are the magnificent centerpiece of a natural system that includes high mountain peaks, sparkling streams, vast grasslands and lush forests.
The campground is situated among pinon pines and sagebrush beneath the majestic Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Most sites have beautiful views of the snow-covered peaks.
A wide variety of grasses and wildflowers can be found throughout the area, and mule deer are commonly seen in and around the campground.
Zapata Falls is just south of the national park off Highway 150. A short but slippery 1/2-mile hike leads to a 25-foot high cascade. Simply driving to the trailhead provides an excellent view of the entire dunefield and San Luis Valley, especially at sunrise or sunset. San Luis State Wildlife Area is located at the western edge of Great Sand Dunes National Park. It features a large natural lake popular for boating, water skiing, sailing, windsurfing and fishing.
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Great Sand Dunes National Park is a unique experience that is worth the stop. The camping is nice though admittedly lacking shade in a lot of sites. Some sites can be small so pay attention if reserving for a mid to large size RV. The dunes are fun (try renting a sand board for a little adventure) but if you've done the sand and have more time Mosca Pass is a great trail with lots of trees and just outside the park is Zapata Falls, which is a hiking must! It is a short (.25 mile) hike to a beautiful campground. The ride up can be bumpy but worth it.
Arrived here in august it was definitely a different place. We were surprised at how little people were here in august. The place was pretty basic.. bathrooms and thats about it. Not really much wood to gather so planning on finding wood outside the park and bringing it in might be a good plan, Buying it is just ridiculous. The sand dunes were outer worldly and the view from our site was epic.
I arrived on a Sunday around 3pm. Loop 2 had a few sites available, but only for one or two nights. Loop 1 had around three or four sites available. Be sure to make reservations if you can! I got lucky and was able to snag site 18 for two nights. It is in a curve of Loop 1, with the mountains to the back and the dunes to the side. Not too far from the bathroom or the trail. The bathrooms have specified dish washing sinks, which was very convenient. Bring your own soap of course, for the dishes and the bathroom. The bear proof lockers were plenty large enough to fit coolers and dishes. It snowed on me while I was there and was very windy!
The Oasis right outside the park was a nice place to stop and eat or grab some last minute supplies. The short drive to Zapata falls is also worth it!
I was camping in a SylvanSport GO which handled the snow like a champ. Some of my water spilled in the front storage of the GO, but they had already thought about that and put in a drain plug! You can even use that front storage as a cooler in a pinch! Check them out at https://www.sylvansport.com/
We made our way up to GSDNP on a whim during the first week that the campsites were open. During this time of the year (April-May) all sites other than group sites are first come-first serve. We arrived around 3pm and got the second to last site available, so, as with all National Parks, arrive early or make a reservation if you can! We stayed on loop 2, which is the upper-most of the non-group sites, requiring a bit further of a walk to the dunes. Out site was well leveled, clean, and well kept, with a bear bin, table, and fire ring. The site host was very friendly and helpful, and the site store is a short walk away--it carries the typical assortment of goodies and firewood, as well as sunscreen and the like if you forget an essential. We had excellent views of the dunes as well as the neighboring Sangre de Cristo mountains. The campground was a short walk from the visitor center along a beautiful trail that offers access into the wilderness area that shares a boundary with the park. The sites are also a
Pinon Flats Campground is a National Park Service campground nestled in the grass of the high plains at the base of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range, Great Sand Dunes and along the Medano Creek.
Nearly every site is a good one. There are 88 regular tent/RV sites divided evently between the first two lower loops and 3 group sites in the upper loop. Check out the National Park Service's webiste: https://www.nps.gov/grsa/planyourvisit/pinonflatscampground.htm
for more complete information.
If you are not reserving a site, get there early…and early or mid-week serves up better selections. Weekends are packed during the summer.
There is plenty to occupy your time if you are a hiker, brought your MTB, or your snow saucer. Hiking to the top of the Dunes is invigorating, but taxing. I highly recommend utilizing trekking poles and bring plenty of water. Mid-summer, I would also encourage you not to wear open toe sandals, as the sand gets blistering hot. Reported summer temps are between 80-140 degrees. Evenings were cool and we bundled up.
The views from the campsite are breathtaking, wildlife abundant, and stargazing is, well… stellar! In mid-summer the mosquito's were thick but with topical agents, we were fine at dusk.
The panoramic view from atop the Dunes were fantastic! Give yourself an hour to make the climb, especially if you have some little ones. Tote that snow saucer for a wild ride down the Dune, beware that speeds can get frighteningly fast…but hey, its sand.
Storms rolled in over the Dunes unannounce each day but blew in, over and out quite rapidly. Sunsets were captivating and colorful. Medano creek was shallow but refreshing by mid-July…but is a wild playground in May and June with snowmelt runoff from what we heard.
While camping there, hike the trails, hike the Dunes, visit the Visitor's Center…and definitely make time to drive up and hike into Zapata Falls, which is about eight miles outside of the GSDNP&P. There is a small sign along the road coming in, drive a dusty 3+ mile gravel road up to the parking area and hike the remaining half mile. Pack your sandals or water shoes. The waterfall is secreted inside a mountain crevase and you must walk the frigid mountain water in. Yes, your feet will go numb…but it is worth it…a 30ft cascade at 9400 foot elevation.
This trip was a highlight and we anticipate a longer return stay…a definite must do!
Piñon Flats is a campground within Great Sand Dunes National Park. It's a biologically diverse area in Southern Colorado, where high winds that blow through the Rockies deposit sand at the Southernmost tip . We made camping reservations about six months in advance. The campgrounds are tidy, with trees, bbq pits and space between camp spots ( loop 2 is best!). There are walking trails all around, and a river to splash in, depending on rain levels. You can trek the sand dunes, and even snowboard down the dunes, but sand gets hot and it's best during the cooler hours of the day ( and it's great exercise!) I would highly reccomend it for kids, and a big bonus is that it's dog friendly . Pack a good stash of food and drink because the campground is far away from a grocery store. There are hot springs you can swim in, located just west of the park. Don't miss the night show in the amphitheater with the singing/ guitar playing ranger who tells stories about the critters that inhabit the park! It was delightful. We got to touch and hold rocks from the moon and rocks from Mars . If you are an avid stargazer, this place is the Mac-daddy location , in one of the most remote locations in the US far from city lights. We saw some Persiod meteor showers. The American Indians worshipped this place as sacred, and it's easy to understand why.
Campground is always packed, try to make reservations if you can. Some sites are walkup. Amazing views and definitely a place you need to visit. A creek runs through the area and is a great place to play in. Cool place to sand board as well.