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We take a short road trip to the Great Sand Dunes National park almost every year. This national park is very kid friendly, and they’re free to roam in most areas. It’s in a pretty remote area, so make sure you have gas, food and water with you. The visitor center has restrooms, and they sell a small number of snacks. But, I suggest bringing in a cooler if you plan to spend the day or longer!
When to Visit
Our favorite time of year to go is mid May to mid June so that we can enjoy Medano creek. When Medano creek is flowing, you have a giant play area with water and sand. It’s like visiting a beach in the middle of Colorado! Expect lines to enter the park on weekends during the months of May through June.
What to do at Great Sand Dunes National Park
1. Play in the creek (seasonal)
This is our favorite thing to do, and it’s what keep us coming back every year! The main access to the creek has restrooms and a very basic area to spray the sand off. You’ll still be bringing sand home in your car though!
2. Explore the dunes
You can hike up the dunes. They get extremely hot during the summer months. If you plan to hike, I suggest getting up early to do so. You can also rent sand sleds for the dunes. We’ve had mixed success with getting them to work effectively. It really depends on the level of moisture in the sand. Normal snow sleds will not work at all.
3. Vistor Center
There is a small but informative visitor center with a video and some interactive exhibits. Kids can participate in the Junior Ranger program as well.
What to Bring
Sunglasses, water bottles, sunscreen, insect repellent, food
If you plan to play in the creek, you also need:
Towels, change of clothes, sand toys
Tubes, small toy boats, kites, umbrellas and tents are also common.