Thanksgiving at Great Sand Dunes National Park

Last Thanksgiving’s model of taking the entire week off and retreating deep into the trails of a national park was a pretty big success, so we decided to do it again this year. This time we were joined by Zeb, our welcomed third wheel. After Kerry ran a marathon in Tulsa like it was no big deal, we headed over to Great Sand Dunes National Park.

It can be tempting to make a list of parks and speed from one to the next, hitting up a short trail and checking out the iconic vistas at each. But I’ve been to enough national parks to know that a week isn’t enough time to get bored at even the smallest of them. Stretching yourself thin leaves you spending most of your time in the car. So we settled in at Sand Dunes and the nearby town of Alamosa and didn’t leave until the end of our break.

Notable activities:
Sleeping in the sand dunes back country and wandering aimlessly from one dune to the next without the rigid structure of trails to stifle our hiking imagination. We were later chased out of said dunes by a wind storm in the night.

A two-day long attempt to summit Mount Blanca which ended a mere half mile from the top. Sleeping in a wooden hut on the mountain that saved our lives while the temperatures dropped to -10 degrees. Post-holing in 3-4 foot deep snow. Almost freezing our toes off.

Hiking the rim of Capulin Volcano, wading the frozen stream to Zapata Falls, seeking out a mountain lion den on Mosca Pass, Kerry’s birthday at the Point of No Return, lounging at hot spring pools, and Thanksgiving dinner at IHOP.

The week was action-packed and cold, but a pretty good use of our time.


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