4am – Me, my camera, tripod, and flashlight. Under the stars with no humans in sight. Heaven!
The park contains the tallest sand dunes in North America, rising about 750 feet from the floor of the San Luis Valley on the western base of the Sangre de Cristo Range, covering about 19,000 acres. Researchers say that the dunes started forming less than 440,000 years ago.
The dunes were formed from sand and soil deposits of the Rio Grande and its tributaries, flowing through the San Luis Valley. Over the ages, westerly winds picked up sand particles from the river flood plain. As the wind lost power before crossing the Sangre de Cristo Range, the sand was deposited on the east edge of the valley. This process continues, and the dunes are slowly growing. The wind changes the shape of the dunes daily.