This past weekend, I’d registered to run the Mt. Evans Ascent…and then I failed to train so I transferred my registration. Then, Alex and I were going to climb with our friends…and then Alex burned his hand pretty severely last weekend.
Instead, we decided to drive south for a mini-road trip to The Great Sand Dunes National Park – far enough away to feel like a special trip but close enough to warrant a one-night trip. I’d only ever seen the sand dunes from the Oasis Campground (long story) but hadn’t made it inside as an adult and, knowing we only have a few Colorado weekends left, we rallied our friends, Lucas and Nancy, who are also moving away this summer, to cross this Must See item off our Colorado bucket lists.
As we were planning our trip and scheduling an overnight for Philly at the kennel, we learned the Sand Dunes is one of the few national parks that allow dogs off the ‘trail’; our pup was coming with us! Philly is her happiest when she’s outside and would be content to spend her days camping if we let her. (If only we could, Phil!)
We opted to camp at the Oasis Campground, about 4 miles from the entrance to the park. We’d stayed here previously and enjoyed the view as the campgrounds are up the mountain side a bit. Knowing rain was in the forecast (and after the flooding rain we’ve received in Denver recently), it sounded drier to be UPHILL than camping at the base of the mountains and dunes.
The weather report indicated a 50% chance of thunderstorms on Saturday afternoon but clearing later in the evening so we weren’t surprised to feel the rain soon after securing our campsite. After about an hour of thunder and lightning in the area, the system started to move out and we set up a tarp above the picnic table included at our campsite.
We played Farkle, told stories and drank beer. There really is no better way to spend a weekend than camping with close friends and pups!
Alex loves the San Luis Valley because it’s a purported hot spot of UFO activity. As a person who is unreasonably afraid of UFOs and aliens, I was less jazzed about this fact but put my big girl pants on to watch the sky for weirdness with my friends. To my relief (and Alex’s disappointment), no UFOs were spotted during our watch.
Sunday morning brought big blue skies – no rain! We packed up camp, ate breakfast at the lodge restaurant and drove into the park!
It was a fairly mild morning, mid-50s – the prior night’s rain helped cool things off – but we still aimed to be on the sand by mid-morning to help ensure our pups wouldn’t get too hot. Especially this little black dog.
Alas, the cool morning quickly warmed and we could tell it was time to head back to the stream that separates the dunes from the parking lot to give the pups a cool down.
If you’re visiting the dunes with a dog and want to hike to the top of the dunes, I’d highly recommend going very early in the morning or late in the evening to keep your pup cool. The sand was warm, not hot, but my black dog got really warm, really fast. (But she had a blast running on the sand and playing in the water!) There were many dogs at the dunes of various shapes, sizes and colors and all seemed to be so happy to be playing in a giant sand box. We did not put booties on Philly but if you own some and are considering visiting the dunes, it wouldn’t hurt to pop ‘em on.
She spent the whole car ride home zonked out in the back, the mark of a weekend well spent!