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. Summer air temperatures are pleasant at this high elevation, but during afternoon hours the sand surface can reach 150F degrees, and dangerous thunderstorms can develop. Plan to hike the dunes in early morning or evening to avoid heat exhaustion, burned feet, or fatal lightning strikes.
Absolutely beautiful Sand dunes in the mountains, it actually smells like an ocean beach and makes you feel like your on another world. The Dunes are 30 square miles and you can camp anywhere in them with a free permit available at the visitor center, just have to hike in past the first ridge aka the day use area. It's tent camping only, and no pets are allowed in the back country dunes. You also need to pack everything you need in with you and leave no trace. The winds blow often and hard, moving enough Sand to cover you tracks in minutes. The views of the sky and stars are absolutely mesmerizing, one of the most beautiful Sand fields in the world. The creek that runs through the day use area can fluctuate in size daily, it wasn't high when we were there, but it was still flowing half way through the day use area. A must see destination if your in the San Luis Valley.
Had a wonderful time at great sand dunes national park. The camping here is wonderful and not overpriced…reasonable. only bathrooms and nothing else. But basic is perfect for me,.Not to many people surprisingly. bring your own wood..giggity
One of our favorite camp“sites” after visiting all 59 national parks was also one of the first we experienced. When we heard that it is possible to camp anywhere in the Dunefield at Great Sand Dunes National Park, we figured it would be a good way to leave the crowds behind and immerse ourselves into the heart of the park. We had no idea how right we would be.
First and foremost, camping in The Dunefield requires a free permit from the visitor center. These are limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis, so try to arrive to the visitor center early enough to grab one for the day you’ll be camping. The rangers will tell you exactly where to park and display your permit. The only hiking direction we received was to climb all the way over the first visible dune ridge, and anything beyond that would be fair game for setting up our tent. Don’t forget to bring way more water than you think you’ll need, and wear sturdy shoes for hiking on the sand.
The Dunefield was one of the most serene and unique camping experiences we have had. Once we crossed over the day use area, it was like being in another world. We didn’t see another soul, and the only noise all night came from the sand blowing in the wind around our tent. We would definitely recommend setting up camp in a shielded area, as the winds blew pretty hard all night.
We spent four days in Great Sand Dunes in August 2015. One of our favorite activities was to sleep in the Dunefield, but we’d also recommend climbing High Dune (and Star Dune if you’re adventurous!) and hiking in the alpine or sub-alpine areas of the park (we loved the hike to Music Pass, from the backside of the park).
You can read much more about our four days in the park on our blog: Switchback Kids (Great Sand Dunes)