I underestimated the size of the sand dunes at Great Sand Dunes National Park. Not only are they taller than I expected, but also they are more expansive. Covering 300 square miles at 8,000 feet in elevation among the Rockies, the dunes are really impressive.
There are hikes in and around the dunes and overnight camping in the sandy backcountry, but we went for one reason only, to sled the sand dunes.
The park says that metal and plastic sleds don’t work on the sand. Otherwise, we would have tried to make do with a Rubbermaid top or cookie sheet. Instead we rented a special wooden sled at a store outside the park. The sled is made for the sand, and the secret to sledding on sand, they say, is that you coat the bottom of the wooden sled with surf wax so that it slides along the top of the sand.
The sledding was a lot of fun, but it was also exhausting. We had to walk about a mile through sand to the taller dunes where we could sled, and climbing the dunes is absolutely draining, as you can probably imagine. Three steps up the steep sand only cover the distance of about one step. You climb and climb, and the sand slides down and so do you. Add a sled in one arm and a squirming kid in the other, and several climbs will have you spent.
We had a blast, though a few hours was all we could handle.
Here are some videos and pictures of our time sliding on the sand dunes: