Great Sand Dunes NP, CO Bob Leverett
July 12, 2009


            Monica and I want to shared some more images of the Great Sand Dunes NP with you. We're providing a brief description of each. Were I to visit the dunes a hundred times or more, I would be no closer to capturing their beauty, moods, expansiveness, and uniqueness on my last visit than I was on my first. I hope the six images described below will help fill the descriptive void.


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ReverseFlowC: When winds reverse their direction, so to do the patterns of the sand. This image shows patterns formed by winds coming through Music, Medano, and Mosca passes. The time is early morning. When the winds blow from the west, the pattern of the crests reverses. The great peaks to the left in the image include Crestone Peak, Crestone Needle, Humbolt Peak, Kit Crson Peak, and Challenger Point, all over fourteen thousand feet. Sage brush dominates in the foreground.

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DuneExpanses: As one travels farther into the dunes, the visual impact of the mountains becomes less dominant. The sands tighten their grip on the imagination as they continually shift underfoot, making progress difficult. In the image, you can see small patches of green. Vegetation tries to take hold, succeeding for a time, only to be swallowed by the shifting sands.   

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SandAndSky: As one climbs higher and penetrates deeper into the dunes, sand and sky dominate. The 33-square miles of sand appears endless. The highest dune is Star Dune. Approached from Sand Creek, the dune is fully 800 feet high. I actually have it higher if one begins at Sand Creek.

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SanLuisValleyC:   This image looks to the west across the expansive San Luis Valley. The edge of the dunes are visible on the right. The San Juans are visible on the horizon. The San Luis is a scenic spectacle itself. It is the largest mountain valley in the lower 48 states. It is approximately the size of Connecticut and lies at an altitude of between 7,500 and 8,000 feet.   Technically, it is a desert a fairly hot one in the summer, at least during the day (never at night),   and a cold one in the winter.   Temperatures have gone as low as -50 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter.

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MonicaSandAndSangresC:   In dune country, one becomes aware of the changes that constantly occur in the shifting sands. As one begins a trek into the dunes, sand patterns are immediately eye-catching, but the sands have a powerful competitor for the attention. The hight peaks of the Sangre de Cristo dominate the eastern horizon. They rise abruptly without foothills. The highest summits rise over 6,000 feet above Medano and Sand Creeks to the west. The peaks present a sharp contrast in color and shape to the ocean of sand. Walking into the dunes, I find that my eyes do a constant dance, focusing on the competing color schemes. The tan, brown, and black of the sands vie with the dark green to blue backdrop of the mountains. In turn, mountain and sand hues vie with the striking shades of blue and white of the sky. One quickly acknowledges that Great Sand Dunes NP is a place where nature paints in bold strokes and vivid colors. Lines are sharp.

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MedanoCreek: A dunes excursion begins with a crossing of Medano Creek if from the east and Sand Creek, if from the west. Most crossings are of Medano Creek. This image looks back on our crossing. The water is melted snow from the Sangres. Many visitors elect to wade up and down the shallow creek rather than tackle the more demanding terrain of the dunes.

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